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    Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    3 days
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    35.5 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    1,484 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
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    Directions to Trailhead
    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.

    Route Information

    • 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

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    Mystic Pass Backpacking Trail Reviews

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