Boulder Pass, Banff National Park
Text and Photography by Mike Potter
This hike is a great access point for longer backpacking trips, including Skoki Valley and Hidden Lake.
The first 3.9 km up the Temple fire road at the start of this outing are not overly inspiring; however, once you get on the trail proper you are on your way to a classic subalpine valley.
After traveling two kilometers or so through coniferous trees (including subalpine larches), you reach open meadows. Here, amid rugged peaks, you are rewarded with a feeling of spaciousness. The Halfway Hut day-use shelter, spruced up with a new roof and new floor in October, 1989, can provide welcome respite in stormy weather.
If backpacking, you can use the nearby backcountry campground as a base for further day hikes–such as to Hidden Lake. To reach Boulder Pass, keep right at the km 7.4 junction and climb steadily past the large boulders that give the pass its name.
Boulder Pass overlooks Ptarmigan Lake, with views of the front ranges to the east and, to the west, Mt. Victoria, Mt. Temple, and several of the Ten Peaks above Moraine Lake.
Pikas may often be seen in the vicinity of Boulder Pass, scurrying about feeding and issuing their high-pitched calls. The abundant wildflowers growing in the surroundings meadows provide ample food for these industrious small mammals.
Distance: 8.8 km (5.5 mi) – Fish Creek parking area to Boulder Pass
Day Hike or Backpack: 2.5 – 3 hours one way
Elevation Gain: 650 m (2130 ft)
Maximum Elevation: 2340 m (7675 ft)
Trailhead: The Fish Creek parking area, reached by travelling 2.0 km up the Lake Louise Ski Area access road (passing by the Bow Valley Parkway turnoff on the right), turning right onto a gravel road, and continuing 1.1 km to the parking area on the right. Signs indicate no public access beyond this point.
0.0 – Fish Creek parking area (elevation 1690 m). Head up the Temple fire road, which rises on a steady grade. Keep straight at the two junctions encountered..
3.9 – End of the fire road (and limit of permitted access by mountain bike). Turn right up short steep incline, then proceed north, climbing gradually..
6.8 – Reach open meadows and cross Corral Creek to west side.
7.3 – Cross stream from Hidden Lake and keep left. (Halfway Hut day-use shelter to right.)
7.4 – Junction (2195 m). Backcountry campground and Hidden Lake trail to left. Keep right for Boulder Pass, and soon begin steady ascent.
8.8 – Boulder Pass (2340 m).
Text includes contributions by CanadianRockies.net Editor Paul Peters