Panorama on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, the Canadian Rockies
Panorama on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, the Canadian Rockies

Ball Pass hike

Kootenay National Park
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View from the top of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, the Canadian RockiesBeginning of trail takes through Hawk Creek crossing on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, the Canadian RockiesFire burned forest on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaViews up the valley on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaApproaching the pass on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaLake Floe view from Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park has beautiful sceneryCrossing Hawk Creek on a log bridge on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park rewards with beautiful viewsValley views on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaViews below the rock wall on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaEroded Cliffs on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park is a beautiful trail with amazing the Canadian Rockies viewsBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park leads through the stunning open areaWildflowers along the trail on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaViews below the pass on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaTrail of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park has panoramic viewsStunning scenery on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaTrail of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park has beautiful views all aroundTrail of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park while approaching Highway 93Hikers on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park leads through wildflower fieldsBeautiful scenery on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaWildflowers on Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park has beautiful valley viewsTrailhead of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass hike in Kootenay National Park has beautiful panoramic viewsStunning views from Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British ColumbiaBall Pass trail in Kootenays, the Canadian RockiesStunning trail of Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

Ball Pass hike

Distance: 12.4mi
Elevation: 2,802ft
Time: 6-8.5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.5 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
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Perhaps the most underrated hike in the entire Canadian Rockies is the Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park. This hike goes up along Hawk Creek and is perfect for a challenging day hike. Head up to Ball Pass through a rugged and exposed regrowth forest with a lovely mountain meadow as a destination. Pack a lunch and enjoy the views and then head back or make it an overnight and continue to Shadow Lodge or Ball Pass Campground.

Ball Pass hike Map

Getting there

The Ball Pass trailhead is the same trailhead as the Floe Lake hike. From Banff head west on the Trans Canada towards Lake Louise. At castle Junction take the AB - 93S towards Radium Hot Springs and continue onto BC-93S as you enter British Columbia. The trailhead will be well signed to your right, after about 13.7mi from the AB/BC border.

I’ve done this 22 people have done this
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About

When to do

July - September

Backcountry Campsites

Shadow Lake Lodge/Campground or Ball Pass Junction Campsite

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Ball Pass
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Ball Pass

Before you start this hike, make sure you’re prepared to scamper over and under a lot of downed trees, as fallen trees litter the route to Ball Pass. These trees make the initial part of the hike to Ball Pass annoying, and much slower than a normal trail.

To get to Ball Pass, park at the Floe Lake parking lot, then cross the 93S highway and catch a trail on the other side of the road and go left.  Soon you come to a path going off to the right.

This trail starts off with a walk through a re-growing forest from a past forest fire.  There are lots of downed trees (our imperfect count had 126 trees that should be removed) along the trail. It is a frustrating part of the hike to continuously climb over/under the trees, and we have seen other hikers turn around at this point.

The Ball Pass trail goes left and starts to climb in the trees, before contouring on a steep hill. The trail is clear here, and you start to get your first views of where the hike is going, as well back into the valley that leads to Floe Lake.

After roughly 2.7mi you come to a large stream that has small waterfalls. This is a beautiful place for a break, and you’ll love dipping your feet in the water on your walk back, especially if it is a hot day.

From this waterfall, the route is going to get prettier and prettier all the way to Ball Pass. The trail trends to the right and goes below Isabelle Peak. The trail soon comes out of the trees for some spectacular views.  You pass some streams that were mostly dry in the summer of 2018.

The route will continue below a mighty rock wall on your left, providing great views up the valley. You will eventually come back into light forest roughly 4.0mi from where you parked your car. This is also the start of a new ecosystem, as the route turns to forest and there is lots of moss, and the weather feels cooler and damper.

Follow the trail through the forest for 984ft and when you reach a creek the trail goes sharply left and uphill.  This is a pretty area, and you’ll enjoy the shade.

Once up this steep bit of trail, and roughly 5.0mi from your car you’ll come to a stunning meadow. This is totally unexpected and so very pretty.  This meadow is spectacular, with a small stream and wildflowers in July.  While you may want to take a break here, trust us and continue onwards and push to Ball Pass.

Once at Ball Pass continue for a couple of hundred meters for a much better view and prepare to be amazed for one of the best panoramas in the Rockies.  The views of Mount Ball, the Ball Glacier, Isabelle Peak and down to Shadow Lake are spectacular.  You can just make out the cabins visible to the right of Shadow Lake. On your right is the massive Haiduk Peak

What we like about Ball Pass is the Ball Glacier, a substantial glacier which is not seen that often this close to Banff townsite, with most glaciers farther north by Lake Louise and on the Icefields Parkway.

While we normally do the Ball Pass hike as a day hike, you can make this a backpacking trip. To backpack, continue down to Shadow Lake, which you reach in about 6 kms. There is a backcountry campground there just past the end of the lake.  You can also stay at Shadow Lake Lodge.

If you’re not going for a backpack, retrace your steps from Ball Pass back to car.

Find other great hikes in Kootenay National Park:

Insider Hints

  • This is a fairly undiscovered hike, as such, it’s best to go in a group as you may not see any other hikers on this route.

  • One of the best backpack routes in the Canadian Rockies takes part of this trail, going from Sunshine to Healy pass to Egypt Lake to Shadow Lake, then up over Ball Pass and down to the Rockwall from Floe Lake to Paint Pots.  It requires a car shuttle.

  • Beware there is a lot of deadfall on the trail, so be prepared for it.

Comments

AnnSue 1 year ago

Looking for a more challenging route, my friends and I took this trail. It starts off the same way as Floe Lake Hike but changes route to a tougher terrain. Saw the same burnt forest but in a different angle. Spectacular view of the mountains at the top.

10.0 Overall Rating
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8h 00m Time Taken
Tara Green 1 year ago

Lots of beautiful scenery. a place to spend a weekend

9.0 Overall Rating
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7h 30m Time Taken
Hiking-eh 1 year ago

Taking your time and enjoying the wonderful nature is definitely worth your while.

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Molly Pineda 1 year ago

Nice one! Trail is long but fun. Weather is the only bad thing, but views pretty.

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Nathan R. 1 year ago

Breathtaking scenery. It was really challenging, but the views are worth the grind. Highly recommended for hiking and camping.

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matsuomako 1 year ago

Marvelous scenery! The streams are little dry but it is fine.

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Meighan 1 year ago

This hike is not for beginners but the scenery makes the challenge worth it.

9.0 Overall Rating
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6h 30m Time Taken
aeropanda 1 year ago

Lovely area. The mountains and meadow are splendid. I highly recommend it!

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Jango l. 1 year ago

I hope I can return to see the regrowth forest in the future! Looking forward to it.

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Olivia P. 2 years ago

It was incredibly challenging, but the views kept on getting better as we go further. I highly recommend it!

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27 Comments Show all

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