Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail
Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail

Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail

Banff National Park
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Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail

Distance: 18.3mi
Elevation: 5,443ft
Time: 2-3 days

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The backpacking route over Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake is for the adventurous backpacker. If you are tired of overcrowded campsites and the headache of booking, this is a great next step. Backpackers in the White Goat Wilderness receive no amenities and are required to follow leave-no-trace policies on their own. This is a beautiful remote portion of Alberta’s backcountry.

Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail Map

Getting there

From Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefields Parkway, set your odometer and drive 10.3mi to a pullout on your right. The Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel and Campground are 2.8mi south of here. You will park in a small pullout on the right (east) side of the highway.

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When to do


Backcountry Campsites

Norman Lake No5

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back

Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail
Elevation Graph

Sunset Pass to Pinto Lake Backpacking Trail Description

Start in the parking lot at the trail kiosk and begin by making your way through the forest. The beginning of the trail is rough and rocky with a steep ascent. You will gain 1788ft in the first 1.8mi, so be ready for some burn.

You will begin to hear the sounds of rushing water as you gain elevation. Take the side-trail on the 9th switchback to find a surprise viewpoint of Norman Creek Falls. This is a great place to catch your breath and admire the complex canyon carved by the falls.

Continue climbing the strenuous switchbacks until you reach a junction for Sunset Lookout. Follow signs to Sunset Pass, climbing more switchbacks and turning right at the arrow-shaped blaze. Hike along the route for a few hundred metres to an alpine meadow. Descend to Norman Creek and cross the creek to the campground. This is a great place to stay if you would like to hike less distance per day.

The trail will lead away from the campground and cross Norman Creek again under the direction of some cairns. The meadow can be rough and overgrown until it re-enters the trees on the other side. Pass through blooming wildflowers in the subalpine forest if you arrive in the right season. You will soon crest the height of the pass and arrive at the National Park Boundary.

In 0.5km, there is an excellent view of the headwaters of the Cline River and Pinto Lake. Descent into White Goat Wilderness Area to Pinto Lake. Beware, the lake is not as close as it seems. When you arrive at the lake, take the faint trail to the shore’s right to find some established campgrounds. Because this is not an equipped campground, be sure to check in with other campers and let them know where you will be storing your food and cooking.

Enjoy the solitude of this out-of-park wilderness before returning the way you came the next day.


liz k 1 month ago

does anyone know if it's required to purchase a national park pass, even though you're leaving the park and heading into white goat wilderness area?

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