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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    282 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    12.2 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical DIFF
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Technical DIFF
    Directions to Trailhead

    Elk Pass

    Panorama on Elk Pass XC ski trail near Kananaskis and Canmore

    Download an interactive map and guide on your phone today!

    Table of contents

    The Elk Pass cross-country ski route is a popular ski route in the Kananaskis Lakes area. With a base elevation of 1,730 m, this usually means pretty nice snow, and is a favourite both early and late in the season.

    Route Description for Elk Pass

    The cross-country ski to Elk Pass is a great ski in the Kananaskis Lakes area. There are a range of trails accessible from the Elk Pass cross-country ski trailhead, though any path up Elk Pass will go on a blue trail, suitable for intermediates.

    Also, while we describe the Elk Pass route, there is also an exceptional circuit for more advanced skiers. The circuit follows our route to Elk Pass and continues around on Tyrwhitt to Whiskey Jack and then back to the trailhead on Moraine, for a total circuit of roughly 18.5 km.

    Finally, you can go over Elk Pass and descend down to the ACC’s Elk Lakes Cabin, which is roughly 6.3 km and involves a descent of roughly 220 m from the pass.

    The route we have shown is a fun cross-country ski to do for intermediate skiers who don’t mind a bit of descent.

    From the Elk Pass parking lot, head out on the green Elk Pass Trail. This easy ski trail has a steep uphill after about 800 m, and the uphill gains almost 90 m as it connects with the Hydroline utility corridor. The uphill can be painful in very icy conditions, especially coming down.

    Once over this hump, you descend a bit and then start to ascend again, only now in a pretty forest. After 2.9 km on the Elk Pass cross-country ski trail you come to the junction for the Blueberry Hill trail, which goes off to your right. Don’t take this today, but it is a fun ski for another day (see insider hints for more on this XC ski trail).

    Continue another 1.5 km to Elk Pass, where there is a picnic table. From Elk Pass, most intermediate skiers return the way they came, being careful on the descent. If you are looking for a longer day, continue on the wonderful Tyrwhitt trail and make a circuit.

    Insider Hints for Elk Pass

    • There are a few great variants on this trail. First of all, advanced skiers can try the black XC ski trail to Blueberry Hill. This is a fun, 3.5 km XC ski each way, ending in a nice viewpoint overlooking both Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. We like doing this trail when there is recent fresh snow as it makes the route a bit softer, and safer while descending.
    • You can also continue from Elk Pass in a northern direction on Tyrwhitt, making a circuit by descending on Whiskey Jack and coming back on the Moraine or Boulton Creek trails.
    • Finally, we love the ACC’s Elk Lakes Cabin. If you have touring skis, consider a few nights there, it’s stunning.
    • This area is pretty isolated, with the only food/gas/drinks at the Fortress Junction Service Station, back on Highway 40, about halfway to Nakiska.

    Getting to the Elk Pass Trailhead

    Take Highway 40 south from the TransCanada to the Winter gate. Go right here and follow the road for 11.9 km. Look out for a signed right-hand turn for Elk Pass, and park in the parking lot here.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      Mid-November to April

    • Backcountry Campsites:

      Elk Lakes ACC Hut

    • Toilets:

      Elk Pass Parking Lot

    • Pets allowed:


    • Avalanche Risk:


    • Family friendly:

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    • Type of XC Route:

      Double Track-set

    Elk Pass Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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