Panorama from the Edith and Cory Pass circuit hike in Banff National Park, Alberta
Panorama from the Edith and Cory Pass circuit hike in Banff National Park, Alberta

Edith and Cory Pass Circuit hike

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Edith and Cory Pass Circuit hike

Distance: 8.9mi
Elevation: 3,527ft
Time: 6-8h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.4 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
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This incredible hike through Edith and Cory Passes is the most varied hike close to Banff. This circuit takes in a number of different micro ecosystems – from a steep and dry ridge, to an arid pass, back through a lush forest. Be aware of some modest scrambling sections (both up and down) on the approach to Cory Pass.

Edith and Cory Pass Circuit hike Map

Getting there

From Banff, head west on the Trans-Canada Highway towards Lake Louise and take the Bow Valley Parkway (#1A) exit. After 0.2mi you will see a turnoff for Fireside. Take this, and follow the road to the Fireside parking lot.

I’ve done this 55 people have done this
I want to do this 198 want to do this route

About

When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Circuit


Edith and Cory Pass Circuit
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Edith and Cory Pass Circuit

Start in the Fireside parking lot and walk over the bridge heading east, passing a wonderful picnic area with a stone fireplace. Enter the forest on a well-trodden path, eventually reaching a fork in the route after just over 0.6mi. Here there is a sign directing you left towards Cory Pass or right towards Edith Pass.

Take the fork going uphill to the left towards Cory Pass. This route is steeper, and is better tackled on the ascent rather than beating your toes and hurting your knees on a steep descent. Climb steadily upwards for 0.9mi, quickly gaining 1476ft of elevation. You’ll soon reach a flatter section, and then continue on the ascent. Here, there are incredible views out from the ridge top, and from certain points you will be able to see the route contouring Mount Edith towards Cory Pass.

Shortly after, you’ll come to a rocky ascent that will require the use of your hands (and maybe your bum) to slide down another rocky bit. Look out for signs directing the route here, as going off route could be fatal.

As you cut under Mount Edith, the path continues across a steep slope that is regularly impacted by rock fall and rain, so be careful here. Look up to wonderful views of Mount Cory. Here you may see some mountain climbers or scramblers attempting different routes on the rocks above.

Coming to Cory Pass (3.7mi, 7710ft), you will see a totally different landscape, known as Gargoyle Valley. If you choose to stop here, make sure it is safe from rock fall. The next 1.2mi are the highlight of the hike, as you get incredible views of the mountains flanking Gargoyle Valley, including Mount Cory, Mount Fifi, Mount Louis and Mount Edith.

You begin your descent from Cory Pass with some fun scree. Make sure to look where your feet are going, not just look up. Next, head to your right and continue to contour Mount Edith, eventually coming out into a forest with numerous avalanche paths. Attempt to follow the cairns as you descend the scree. Note that there are numerous braids to the trail and you may end up below where the trail re-enters the forest, which is marked by a prominent brown sign on the edge of the forest. You may have to climb back up to the trail if you get carried away descending on scree.

The path through the forest has ups and downs, and is noticeably moister than the preceding part of the hike. Keep your eyes open for remarkable mushrooms, but please don’t pick. Eventually the trail will become a wide and gentle path covered with pine needles. Cruise back towards the parking lot, enjoying the variety of microenvironments you have been fortunate to see on your hike.

Insider Hints

  • Go clockwise to reduce the strain on your legs coming down.

  • Leave a cooler in the car and enjoy a wonderful BBQ and picnic with a beautiful stone fireplace at the picnic area near the parking lot. This is one of the best picnic areas in the park.

  • If you are early or late in the day, continue driving on the 1A north towards Castle Mountain Junction. Drive slowly and keep your eyes open, as there is an abundance of wildlife. Bears feeding at the side of the road are not uncommon.  DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR CAR for any animals, as all can be dangerous depending on the season.

Comments

Dynamike 1 month ago

The description of the trail is very accurate and indeed go clockwise on this one. Perfect trail with lots of various terrain. Expect some scrambling, which I enjoy personnaly. Trails is pretty much unmarked in my opinion. We walked on our way down but if like to jog a little, you can do this in less time. Be careful, at the very start you will cross a creek with the help of tree trunks (bridge was not available) but don't go straight up! It seems to be the trail but it's not! After you cross, head to your right and move along the rocks towards the 4 or 5 pic-nic tables and huge fireplace. The trail starts right after. Not for kids and expect to wonder if you are still on the right path quite a few times! Overall, it's a must.

10.0 Overall Rating
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4h 50m Time Taken
JohnCan 1 year ago

Challenging ascend and descend with outstanding views.

10.0 Overall Rating
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7h 20m Time Taken
Richy_travels 1 year ago

Impressive views as we move forward.

10.0 Overall Rating
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7h 15m Time Taken
Greenlife 1 year ago

The ascend was quite rocky, but there are flat sections too. Nice hike.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
8h 00m Time Taken
Grant Ko. 1 year ago

Lots of different terrain, steep elevation, unbelievable views - it was everything I wanted in a hike.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
FellWalker 1 year ago

The Aspen trees where the trail starts are beautiful. The views of the mountain are gorgeous.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Stoves_M 1 year ago

The whole experience was as grand as we had hoped.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Jeffrey Reagan 1 year ago

Edith and Cory Pass Circuit got some incredible topography and various scenery to offer.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Margaret Theroux 2 years ago

Such an awesome hike. The Gargoyle Valley is superb. There were a couple spots we didn't love (scrambling) but nothing too dramatic.

SebClyde 2 years ago

Unforgettable experience! Keep your eyes open for wildlife in the open fields.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
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14 Comments Show all

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