Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail
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.
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Route Description for Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail
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 19.6 km and 573.0 km 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 12.2 km from Mystic Junction to Larry’s Camp (Jo9). It rises 433 m in elevation on the gentler side of the pass before dropping down 594 m into the next valley. It is a scenic route and the most enjoyable stretch of this trail.
Larry’s camp is a manageable 7.4 km 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.
Getting to the Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Trailhead
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.
Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Elevation Graph
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Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Reviews
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