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Healy Pass
Banff National Park, Alberta
August 4, 2020

Distance: 19.5 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 706 m

Hiking Healy Pass at the height of the wildflower season was like walking through a vast garden. Meadows filled with vibrant wildflowers stretched as far as the eye could see. It's a wonder Dinah and I hadn't done this trip sooner.

Our hike began with a long walk from the Sunshine ski parking lot to the trailhead. The gondola parking lot was closed, presumably in response to the coronavirus pandemic, so we had to park an extra 400 m away. The trailhead is behind the gondola station.

There wasn't much to see as the trail winds through trees and runs alongside Healy Creek. After 6 km, the path shakes free of pine trees and enters small meadows bordered by larches. A stunning array of wildflowers blanketed the meadows, but there was more to come. Soon we passed boundless meadows filled with colourful flowers. We also eyeballed Monarch Ramparts which extends to Healy Pass.

At the pass, we took a break. Meanwhile, several groups passed by, mostly from the trailhead but also a few backpackers coming up from Egypt Lake on the other side of the pass.

We wished we could have capped our trip by hiking up Monarch Ramparts, but its entire length from Healy Pass to Eohippus Lake is closed June 1 - October 15 to protect the environment. Straying from official trails is also prohibited. So with no place to go but down, we turned around.

The hike to Healy Pass is long but rewarding. But after seeing the wildflowers in the summer, I imagine it would be equally satisfying to regard the larches in the autumn. Wildflowers or larches, I expect we'll return.

KML and GPX Tracks

The trailhead is behind the gondola station

There is little to see for a long way in

There are few flowers along the trail

At a bridge crossing Healy Creek, there's a pleasant spot to take a break

The trail hits rocky sections before the meadows

At the first meadow, a rock (behind the tree) makes a welcomed rest spot

We hiked through meadows filled with wildflowers

The trail crosses this stream twice

Wildflowers were mostly a mix of purple and yellow

The trail passes stands of larches

More trees ahead

A few Indian paintbrush wildflowers could be seen

Ahead the slope is oddly devoid of flowers

On the right are The Monarch and Monarch Ramparts

Another view of Monarch Ramparts plus a lake

The pass is after the next bend

Monarch Ramparts are closed to protect the environment (mouse over to read the sign)

West, Scarab Peak rises above Scarab Lake and Egypt Lake (mouse over for a close-up)

We relaxed on a rock on the pass

Heading back. In the centre is Twin Cairns (mouse over). We climbed it in 2015, but it's likely off-limits now.

82 O/4 Banff

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