West Wind Pass

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
View Photos

West Wind Pass

Distance: 5.0km
Elevation: 390m
Time: 2-3.5h

Difficulty Rating:

West Wind Pass is a great hike! It’s not too busy and is a perfect hike for people who want to get stunning views without a ton of elevation gain. We love the vista back to the Spray Lakes Reservoir as well as at the views from West Wind Pass itself.

Getting there

From the Canmore Nordic Centre, continue west on the Smith-Dorrien (Hwy 742) as it winds up into the Spray Valley for 18.5km. You’ll notice cars parked on both sides of the highway, with a pull-out to your right, adjacent to Spray Lake. There is no signage for this parking.

About

When to do

June 15 - October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

None

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

For first-timers, just finding the right parking lots can be a challenge when you’re hiking to West Wind Pass. Luckily, on weekends there are usually a fair number of other cars of hikers going to West Wind Pass or up Rimwall or Windtower.

The hike starts in the trees across the road, and immediately comes to a sign stating that the West Wind Valley is closed from December 1st to June 15th. The path heads up through the trees, with Spurling Creek to your right, though often out of sight. Soon after you start your hike, you’ll come across the trail’s first deviation: take the right-hand route with signs west for Windy Pass.

After roughly 30 minutes you’ll come to some cliff bands with the route going over them. Go across this tricky area, taking care. The path splits 10 minutes later, and you can go either way, however we prefer to take the lower of the two paths.

Continue heading uphill following the path. As you come to West Wind Pass (also known as Windy Pass), you’ll notice a large mountain on the right, this is Windtower. To your left is the Rimwall, and the path you see heading up it is the Rimwall Ridge Route. Continue to follow the well-defined path to the right as it comes to West Wind Pass.

Once you get to West Wind Pass, you will appreciate the beauty. You can continue along the path over West Wind Pass for a short while to let the views expand in front of you in the Wind Valley! We love a break here.

From the West Wind Pass, hike back down the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Consider taking poles, as they help getting across the small cliff bands.
  • It can get hot on this hike, as it’s west-facing and exposed. Consider bringing some swimming trunks and a lot of courage to swim in the chilly Spray Lake down by the car.
  • Really hot days may need slurpees after this hike. You can get your slurpee fix at the Mac’s store in Canmore on Bow Valley Trail, in a strip mall just off of Railway Ave.

Similar adventures

Black Prince Lakes and Cirque

Difficulty:
11.8km
680m
4.5-6h

The hike to Black Prince Cirque and then Black Prince Lakes is stunning. This hike takes you to a classic…

Rummel Lake

Difficulty:
12.5km
380m
3.5-5h

The hike to Rummel Lake is a Kananaskis classic, with people returning year after year. The colours in autumn are…

Black Prince Interpretive Trail / Warspite Lake

Difficulty:
4.6km
125m
1-2h

The hike on the Black Prince Interpretive Trail is a great family-friendly hike on the Smith-Dorrien. The trip takes you…