There are only two ways to get to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta, Canada. You can take an 8 minute gondola ride and travel the 2150 feet to the top or you can hike the 5.5 km (3.4 miles) to the top (all of it uphill).
I recently returned from my fourth trip to the Canadian Rockies with my sister. Hiking to the top of Sulphur Mountain has been on her bucket list and was she was determined to accomplish that on this trip.
I am a fairly fit 65-year old woman but I still had reservations about hiking to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
First, I have an unreasonable fear of encountering a grizzly bear while hiking. According to Wikipedia, the last time someone was killed by a grizzly attack in Alberta, Canada was in 2014 when a hunter inadvertently came between a mother grizzly and her cubs. But I have a hard time getting the grizzly scene from “The Revenant” out of my mind..
Second, at the beginning of the trail a big sign was posted warning that cow elk were calving and they could be aggressive – so stay clear of them.
Third, I have tendonitis in my ankles and I wasn’t sure could make it to the top – and once I made the commitment to hike, I didn’t have any recourse other than to finish the hike or walk back down.
So, with bear spray and water in hand, we began our hike. And it was wonderful. We set out at a reasonable pace, stopped along the way for water and to enjoy the views, and about two hours later we reached the top. The trail is very well maintained with no technical areas. We had no bear or elk encounters and my ankles held up just fine.