The scramble up Mount Bourgeau gives way to a commanding view of the Bow Valley near Banff. The trip takes you by scenic Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass en route to the summit, which means you’ll still have an amazing day even if you abort your summit bid.
The Bourgeau parking lot is on south side of the Trans-Canada Highway, roughly 13km west of Banff. There is a turnaround on the Trans-Canada for those who are heading to the route from Banff.
|When to do|
July - September
Yes - On Leash
Out and back
Mt. Bourgeau is a popular and demanding route in the Canadian Rockies. Reaching the summit of Mt. Bourgeau is little more than a hike, though it is technically a Class I scramble. Getting to the top takes you on a 24 km round trip with over 1,500 m of elevation gain. Energy and motivation are key, especially as a full 16 km of the hike is in the forest. This being said, the views in the alpine section more than make up for this, if forests aren’t your forte.
The signed trailhead is located to the west of Banff, just west of where the highway becomes divided by a small forest. Follow the highway signs, which will guide you to the correct location. Arrive early, as it seems to be on Banff Tourism’s list of places to send people and the small parking lot fills up quickly.
Initially the trail is wide, hard-packed, and slippery, with a 700 m ascension at a gentle to moderate grade. At a good pace, 2 hours of hiking will take you the 7.5km to Bourgeau Lake. From here the trail heads up through the obvious gap to the west and passes another lake. Next it heads to the left to crest Harvey Pass, 2 km further and 300 m higher than Bourgeau Lake. This is a very pretty viewpoint, and many come just for this view.
From the south end of the lake (locally known as Harvey Lake) the route up Mt. Bourgeau to the east is visible. Still, the summit is still over 2 km away and 500 m higher, so should not be underestimated. A reasonably clear trail guides you all the way to the top.
Views from the summit are truly incredible, but be warned, weather this high up is typically windy and cold, even if it’s clement in the valley below. Make sure you bring layers, so you can spend some time up high in relative comfort.
Return the way you ascended.
- Keep your eyes open for marmot and ptarmigan between Bourgeau and Harvey Lakes.
- This is a long day, and the hike to Bourgeau Lake is popular, so make sure you start early.
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