Hiking Burstall Pass

Canada Burstall Pass Trail

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This hike takes you to breathtaking views in a pristine alpine area. Mountain peaks, glaciers, wildflowers, and the sky so close it feels like you are touching it. One of the most breathtaking place in the Kananaskis.

The trail begins along the berm beside Mud Lake. After a rather uninspiring 3 km (you can mountain bike this part) the trail narrows and enters trees where tangled roots twist across the path and you breathe in the smells of damp earth and moss.

Ten minutes later the trail spits you across a split log bridge onto the gravel flats where braided glacial fed streams wind among the willows. Robertson glacier is to your left. You will have to navigate across this stretch, generally following the trail signs...and trying to keep your feet dry as you leap across the myriad streams, or try to balance on the spindly log crossings.

The trail enters the trees again and climbs for 5.5 km. Moss and wildflowers glow in the dappled sunbeams. A creek converses in the ravine to your right and the wind converses in the tree tops.

You reach a hanging subalpine valley. Here campanulas and anemone occidentals seed heads wave in the breeze, silvery mats of antennaria catch the sunlight, and larches turn golden in the Fall. A pleasant level walk before the final climb to the pass and views open up all around you.

Follow the trail around and look out over the incredible turquoise/indigo Lehman Lake below.

Better yet (if you are up for a Class 2 difficulty scramble) , continue on to the top of Snow Peak. Shortly after the sign that says you are entering Banff park, climb up the ridge to your left and follow along the ridge for jaw-dropping exhilerating panoramic views.

Return the same route, taking with you that soul refreshment that only a day in the wilderness can bring.

Directions:

From Canmore drive 45 km along scenic Spray Lakes Road. The Burstall Pass parking area is well marked on your right.

From Calgary take Highway 1 to Highway 40 South to Kananaskis Lakes road and turn right to Smith-Dorian/Spray Lakes road. The parking area and trail head are 20 km from this junction

Distance15 km roundtrip to pass, elevation gain 470 meters 19 km roundtrip Snow peak, elevation gain 900 meters

Pack List

  • Water
  • Jacket
  • Clothing layers (be prepared for all weather conditions)
  • Rain coat and pants
  • Water sandals optional for gravel flats
  • Good hiking boots if you are doing the scramble
  • Camera (absolute must)
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Activities:

Photography, Hiking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

9.3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1542 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

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How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Great Hike!

This hike was awesome. I did it during the May long weekend and there was three to four feet of snow! It was quite compact though so doing it in regular hiking shoes was fine. We didn't make it to the summit due to the snow but the views were still unreal.

about 1 month ago

almost 3 years ago

If you are driving back towards Canmore and it is around 4 pm, stop at Mount Engadine lodge for their bountiful hikers's "afternoon tea"...and they do serve beer.

almost 3 years ago

Added by Becky Simrose

Seriously in love with the mountains and ocean... and travel. I live in Calgary, just a short drive from Banff and so spend a lot of time in the mountains. When I'm not working I'm often on Vancouver Island...my other home and my ocean fix!

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