The scenery of Burstall Pass is just asking for a Lord of the Rings type of epic show or movie to be filmed at. My imagination ran wild at this place. From towering mountains to layered landscapes to meadows, the views here have so much to offer. I’ll go as far as saying that Burstall Pass should be considered as an iconic hike in Alberta!

Getting There

The trailhead is fairly easy to find as it leaves from the Burstall day-use area which is located just off the Smith Dorrien trail aka 742. It’s the “why is it not paved?” yet gravel road between the back of Canmore that connects to Highway 40. A scenic two-hour drive from Calgary.

The Hike

From the parking lot, you will be following an old logging road that will soon enough turn into a nice wide trail. There isn’t much elevation here but an appetizer to the beautiful forest that will accompany you during the elevation grind part after the meadow. In this part, you will get a glimpse of the Burstall Lakes with their marshy surrounding. Fantastic place to explore during fall, and a stunning place for a picnic.

Burstall pass trail, hike, kananakis, Alberta, Kirk Lubimov

Dividing the first part of the hike’s wooded section and the start of the elevation is a meadow which is pretty much a floodplain. This section can be disorientating in the summertime when vegetation is fully bloomed. It is also very scenic. There are streams and tracks everywhere from hikers trying to navigate their way around what will surely be a muddy wet terrain all the way back into the forest again. Bring another pair of shoe or sandals if you are fussy.

This elevation phase isn’t too bad but will get your heart pumping. This is a very doable hike for all skill levels with basic fitness level as long you can grind the distance. This hike is also a fantastic choice for birders, you will definitely spot and hear our feathery friends. This forest section is one to keep an eye out at. A grouse joined us on the way back from the forest.

Burstall pass trail, hike, kananakis, Alberta, Kirk Lubimov

Coming out of the forest you will have a flat trail, that also gets muddy, before the final few zig zags up to the alpine meadow with the picturesque views opening up. Burstall Pass is also not a bad choice during larch season. Wildflowers are plentiful here as well depends on the season.

If you still have more energy, and want to continue the adventure you can do the Snow Peak scramble which connects to the view point.

Distance: 16km.

Elevation: around 700m.

Time: Around 6 hours. This is a very inviting area to lounge and enjoy a picnic.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Season: June to November. You can expect some snow in October and November. People also snowshoe here but not all the way up.

Dog Friendly: Yes. The first part has lots of water for the pups but please note the top the doesn’t.


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