Larches as seen from Burstall Pass
Larches from Burstall pass

Burstall Pass hike

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
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Mountain views on the Burstall Pass Hike on Smith-Dorrien trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreGreat scenery from the Burstall Pass Hike on Smith-Dorrien trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreForest and mountain on the Burstall Pass Hike on Smith-Dorrien trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail of the Burstall Pass Hike on Smith-Dorrien trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreMountain the Burstall Pass Hike on Smith-Dorrien trail in Kananaskis, near Canmore

Burstall Pass hike

Distance: 9.6mi
Elevation: 1,476ft
Time: 4-5.5h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.4 Overall Rating
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The hike to Burstall Pass is an iconic Canmore route for good reason – it's stunning! Although a great trail for intermediates, those with energy can scramble up Snow Peak for one of the best views in the Rockies. And in autumn, the sights of the larches are incredible!

Burstall Pass hike Map

Getting there

Take the Smith-Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) 26.1mi from the Canmore Nordic Centre. Turn right and park in the parking area beside Mud Lake on your right-hand side.

I’ve done this 40 people have done this
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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


Burstall Pass
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Burstall Pass

On foot from the parking lot, head up to Mud Lake and take the old logging road west (on the right-hand side). Do not follow the southbound road, as that goes to French Glacier.

The first few kilometers of this hike are on a wide, gently sloping trail that passes Burstall Lakes. This early section is ideal for easy biking or the use of an adventurous stroller. You’ll quickly notice how beautiful the forest is, and if hiking later in the summer or autumn, the larch trees will come alive with color. Midway through the forested ascent, there will be breaks in the trees allowing you to go down to the Burstall Lakes. Take advantage, enjoy a quick break and admire these stunning waters.

Just past the Burstall Lakes the logging road ends – with a bike rack to park your ride – and leads onwards to classic single-track hiking. After approximately four kilometers, you’ll enter the potentially marshy gravel flats. After crossing over Burstall Creek on a small bridge, your boots may need to come off to cross the many appendages of the stream. Especially in June and early July, the flats are exceptionally wet and muddy, and a spare set of water shoes is helpful.

After another half a kilometer, the trail returns to the forest and continues to climb. The grade steadily increases from here, and at approximately five and a half kilometers you’ll again emerge into an alpine meadow. After hiking through wildflowers, the true ascent to the pass begins.

Take note that the flooding of 2013 damaged the old trail, and at times it’s hard to differentiate between the old and new trails. Some of the signs for the old trail still stand, which may increase the difficulty and confusion on the route.

Once atop the pass, the trees really open up, and beautiful views down into Banff National Park and Mt. Assiniboine reward you for your trek. You can continue the hike briefly down the west side of the pass with little elevation loss – don’t worry the climbing is mostly done. This continuation yields several more vistas of Spray River Valley and Mt. Leman.

After taking a healthy break at the pass and doing a little exploring, return the way you came. The views are new and you should feel the reward of stunning beauty and tranquility the Canadian Rockies are famous for.

Check out other amazing hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien:

Insider Hints

  • Bring sandals to cross the cold streams of the marsh.

  • Try to bike the first half to save more time to relax and appreciate the view from the pass.

  • If feeling adventurous and have the relevant map and route description, try the scramble up Snow Peak. The route can be confusing, so don’t try this unless you are experienced and knowledgeable.

Comments

ddelaloye 1 year ago

Great hike! We saw a lone mountain goat on the north ridge at the pass. Great view of Mount Assiniboine and Banff National Park once you reach the pass.

10.0 Overall Rating
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MartiniC 1 year ago

Fun-packed adventure! Be mindful enough not to feed the chipmunks and marmots because human food is not healthy for them.

9.0 Overall Rating
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5h 30m Time Taken
oskareglq 1 year ago

For a moderate hike, the views are pretty impressive. We didn't encounter any trouble while doing the hike and we enjoyed a lot.

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Theodore R. 1 year ago

The whole pass is just beautiful as it is. Perfect for sightseers and nature lovers!

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SebClyde 1 year ago

It was an exciting hike! I wish to go back in autumn.

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Paul D. 2 years ago

The first miles were merely easy, even though the trail was uneven. Everything gets better towards the top. The views at the summit were truly breathtaking. Worth the sweat.

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Luna M. 2 years ago

This hike offer the most amazing views and instagram photo opportunities!

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Jeremy R. 2 years ago

Awe-inspiring scenery. The route was stunning and you'll feel the positive energy of the mountain. Hiking with friends is really fun!

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LyleM 2 years ago

Make sure to have proper gear. Prepare for the challenge and rewarded by spectacular views.

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Rosemery Ash 2 years ago

The ascent was terrific! you'll find amazing views around every bend.

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33 Comments Show all

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