Egypt Lake


Distance: 12.5 km (7.8 mi) – Sunshine downhill ski area parking area to Egypt Lake backcountry campground
Day Hike / Backpack: 3.5 – 4 hr one way
Elevation Gain: 695 m (2280 ft)
Elevation Loss: 375 m (1230 ft)
Maximum Elevation: 2330 m (7640 ft)
Topo Map: Banff 82-0/4
Trailhead: Behind (west of) lower gondola terminal at Sunshine downhill ski area parking area, at the end of the paved road 9.0 km (5.6 mi) from the Sunshine interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway. (Do not take access road from the southwest corner of parking area.)

The author at the summit of South Pharaoh Peak0.0 – Junction behind lower gondola terminal (elevation 1675 m). Head west up wide track.
0.8 – Turn right off wide track at sign (1740 m).
1.0 – Cross creek (1710 m) on footbridge or by rockhopping. Start steady climb.
3.1 – Cross Healy Creek on footbridge.
5.5 – Backcountry campground.
5.9 – Keep right; trail to left crosses Healy Creek on footbridge and climbs to Simpson Pass (1.3 km). Begin to climb more steeply.
7.7 – Cross footbridge and keep right; to left leads to Simpson Pass in 2.0 km. Climb through upper subalpine and alpine meadows.
9.2 – Healy Pass (2330 m). Veer north for 50 m before descending to northwest.
12.3 – Keep straight at junction (1985 m); warden cabin to right and Redearth Pass trail to left. Cross Pharaoh Creek on footbridge and climb to terrace.
12.5 – Egypt Lake backcountry campground and shelter (1995 m).

The trail to Egypt Lake via Healy Pass stays mostly in forest as it works up Healy Creek, except where it crosses a number of avalanche gullies off cliffs to the northwest once you’ve passed over the creek via the bridge at km 3.1. Soon after the backcountry campground at km 5.5, you pass the junction with the shortest trail (1.3 km) to Simpson Pass from this direction.

Then you have a steep stretch, and it is not until km 7.7 that you come out into open meadows interspersed with subalpine larch. The higher route to Simpson Pass turns south just after the footbridge here. From this point to the pass you reap the rewards of the trudge up the valley, for the ground is covered with glacier lilies in season and the views improve as you steadily gain elevation.

The vistas to the south encompass the numerous small lakes dotting the meadows toward Simpson Pass, the rolling terrain of the Sunshine Meadows, and in the distance Mt. Assiniboine, the “Matterhorn of the Rockies.” The often windy crest of the pass gives the first sight of Egypt and Scarab lakes, plus a horizon full of hitherto hidden peaks–including uniquely-shaped Mt. Hector near Lake Louise, some 60 km to the northwest.

From Healy Pass you can venture off-trail to travel along the ridge of the Monarch Ramparts, which despite its appearance from below is undulating and meandering rather than level and linear. This stretch supports a variety of wildflowers despite the often blustery conditions, evident in the large cornice that forms on the leeward east side. An intriguing species of the flora present here is alpine lousewort, with bright purple blossoms.

You can also take an excursion north from Healy Pass over meadows to pick up a path that leads up the ridge to a large cairn at the summit of a small peak of approximately 2545 m (8350 ft) elevation. This feature at grid reference 797622 gives views into the remote valley of Lost Horse Creek, and can serve as the jumping-off or end point of a cross-country jaunt to or from Bourgeau Lake.

The distance to Egypt Lake via the usual approach over Healy Pass, and the elevation loss from the pass, are such that most who head here are backpacking on an overnight trip. There is a backcountry campground near the lake, as well as a park-operated shelter.

The area is a justifiably popular destination that offers many hiking options, although the immediate vicinity of the lake is not a place to seek solitude. The name of Egypt Lake, and the names of other nearby features that have Egyptian allusions, were bestowed by the Topographical Survey in the early 1900s.

Backcountry Banff | Recreation | Banff National Park | Rocky Mountain Destinations

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