Mystic Pass Trail
Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Map

Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail

Banff National Park
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Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail

Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail

Distance: 22.1mi
Elevation: 4,869ft
Time: 3 days

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If you are interested in the Sawback Trail but don’t have 5-7 days to complete it, try out the three-day Mystic Pass Trail. This trail begins at Mount Norquay and travels up Forty Mile Creek to summit Mystic Pass. It descends on the north side of the pass to join Johnston Creek and continue on to Johnston Canyon.

Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Map

Getting there

From the Town of Banff find Lynx street and follow this towards the Trans-Canada Highway. Pass over the highway on the overpass as you join Mount Norquay Road. This road switchbacks steeply up the side of the mountain before reaching the parking lot. If you’re lucky, you will be able to spot some bighorn sheep or even a bear along the way.

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When to do


Backcountry Campsites

Mount Cockscomb Fm10, Mystic Junction Fm19, Mystic Valley Mi22, Larry’s Camp Jo9

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

One Way

Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail
Elevation Graph

Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Description

Starting at the Mount Norquay parking lot, begin walking towards the ski lodge. There is no defined trail here, but you will pass the lodge and continue towards the ski lifts. Pass under the Cascade, Spirit, and Mystic chairs before you reach a trail sign and small junction with two defined trails. Stay left following signs for Fm10. Begin your hike up Forty Mile Creek and watch for bears! This is a popular wildlife corridor, and carrying bear spray is a must.

Travel 12.2mi and 356.0mi of elevation gain to reach Mystic Junction (Fm19) camp. This is a quiet camp in the woods near the Mystic Lake warden cabin. You may be tempted to push your miles for Mystic Lake Mi22 camp; however, you should know it is not at the lake. It is a few kilometres from the lake and not worth the extra mileage.

On day two, depart Mystic Junction heading towards Mystic Lake. There is a slight detour to the lake that is well worth it. Be sure to accommodate some time to visit the lake before you begin climbing Mystic Pass. This day will take you 7.6mi from Mystic Junction to Larry’s Camp (Jo9). It rises 1421ft in elevation on the gentler side of the pass before dropping down 1949ft into the next valley. It is a scenic route and the most enjoyable stretch of this trail.

Larry’s camp is a manageable 4.6mi of mostly downhill terrain to the Johnston Canyon Resort and trailhead, stopping at the Ink Pots on your return. This natural water feature is a popular destination for day hikers.



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