Buller Pass

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
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Buller Pass

Distance: 14.6km
Elevation: 685m
Time: 5-7h

Difficulty Rating:

The hike to Buller Pass is one of the most spectacular in Canmore. It’s perfect for intermediate hikers, and despite the region still recovering from a forest fire, there are beautiful views and wildflowers throughout the trail. Once above treeline enjoy stunning views all the way to the pass!

Getting there

From the Canmore Nordic Centre, take the Smith-Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) 32km all the way to the Buller Mountain Day Use Area. The parking lot is on the west side of the road.

About

When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

From the parking lot, head back across the Smith-Dorrien Trail. The hike starts out in a thick forest, gently climbing upwards towards the meadow, gradually increasing in grade as you approach. The climb feels surprisingly long, but the shade of the trees keeps the temperature milder. Additionally, along the way you’ll pass a waterfall, another great way to cool off during a hot summer hike.

Right before the pass, you’ll encounter a flat, two-kilometer meadow. As you approach the pass, there are a number of switchbacks leading up to it and the pass itself is quite steep as well, with a scree slope near the top. Pace yourself. When you reach the top, take a lunch as a reward for all your hard work.

As you hike, you’ll also notice that the forest morphs from thick and lush to burnt out, with numerous wildflowers. The terrain then turns to an alpine meadow, and finally to the scree scramble above the treeline. Additionally, the overall difficulty of the hike gets progressively greater as you approach the pass. However, the trail is excellently marked.

Those with energy can continue on to Ribbon Lake, Guinn’s Pass or to North Buller Pass.

Descend on the same route you took up.

Insider Hints

  • Try to spot the marmots and chipmunks in the meadow – they are too cute!
  • If you are feeling adventurous, continue another 4km down the other side of the pass to Ribbon Lake. Just keep in mind that you will have to do the pass another time.

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