Have a quick look at the map at the trailhead; this will save you from making one or two possible wrong turns during the first part of the hike. The trail is wide for the first 3 plus km, and you can cycle this if you wish, passing marshy Burstall Lakes on the way.
At about 4 km you cross Burstall Creek on a small footbridge, entering the wide gravel flats immediately (see photos). You may need to don sandals or runners as you cross the many braids of this glacier-fed stream.
The trail re-enters forest after .5 km, climbing to open meadows at 5.5 km. About 1 km later you begin the final climb to the Pass.
Great views once on top, with lots of opportunities for further hiking or scrambling. I would grade this trail as difficult only if Burstall Creek is high (eg. late afternoon, early summer). Otherwise it is a good trail of average to moderate difficulty.
NTS Map: 082J14 Elevation Gain: 451 m (1,480 ft).
From Banff, drive east to Canmore, then south on Spray Lakes Road for 45 km. There is a large parking area beside Mud Lake on your right.
If coming from the south, it is about 20 km north of the junction of Smith Dorrien/Spray Lakes Rd and Kananaskis Lakes Trail (ie Road).
Spray Lakes Rd. is a gravel road. There are other, mostly paved, options to access this area from Canmore or Calgary.
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Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Sun Oct 15 15:29:24 UTC 2017
UpsideBeautiful views after the first 5km approx. on both Chester Lake area and the valley to the west. DownsideCrowded but at least the trail is large enough most of the time. CommentWe did this hike in winter conditions and going into a blizzard once at the pass but we still had a chance to enjoy great views of the surrounding peaks from time to time. Mount Birdwood and Commonwealth Peak are stunning from the wetlands and on and the vertical slabs of Whistling Rock Peak are impressive. We used it to complete Snow Peak that is just North of Burstall Pass and usually easy but the blizzard made it more challenging as it intensified closer to the summit.
Posted By: Baby Thor
- Tue Sep 05 23:50:39 UTC 2017
UpsideIt was a fine hike. DownsideBit of snow to maneuver through, also remnants of the flood in the form of creeks and streams. CommentThe path disappears a bit where there was a flood a few years ago, but there are a few signs. Just go straight through the marshy area, jumping over creeks. I would have liked to go past the top of the pass but the rest of my group wasn't up for it. 6 hours total with slower people.
Posted By: CityGirl
- Mon Oct 26 02:09:49 UTC 2015
UpsideBeautiful surrounding mountains DownsideThe flood of 2013 - Lack of trail markers for the new trail. CommentI hiked this mountain in 2007 - pre flood - and had no problem making it to the pass and back in 3.5 hours. This time around, we never made it past about 3/4 the ways up. The flood made a lot of damage to the pathway and Parks Canada has not removed the flags "markers" from the old trail. We found ourselves climbing over downed trees, following the markers on what probably use to be the old trail. The new trail is not well marked at all. I am an experienced hiker and was very disappointed in this trail this year. Parks Canada should go out and properly mark the trail and remove any markers from the old trail.
Posted By: Kayak
- Thu May 22 18:01:37 UTC 2014
QuestionWhere is the closest RV Camp to the Burstall Pass TrailheadANSWERS are in this forum: RV Camping
Posted By: longleggedhiker
- Sat May 08 03:10:03 UTC 2010
UpsideAn outstanding trail with spectacular views requiring not a whole lot of effort. DownsideThe willow flats are very wet and mucky. Especially in June and most of July. CommentThis is a MUST DO hike for anyone. It is totally worth the time and effort! It is a good idea to bike the first part as it will give you more time to enjoy the high country. It is also best to do this hike in September as you will get to enjoy beautiful fall larch colors and the Willow Flats are for the most part dry in September.
Posted By: mountain momma
- Sat Aug 08 18:29:23 UTC 2009
UpsideLovely trail, great views, options to go beyond pass DownsidePossibly high waters CommentThis is by far my most favourite day hike! We went down into Leman Lake and enjoyed a dip. Fabulous!
Posted By: sdecarie
- Sun Oct 01 02:35:35 UTC 2006
UpsideIt's a great hike with many options once reach the Burstall pass area. Late Sept. Larch trees were very colourful. I'd definitely do this hike again DownsideOnly if the creek is high will you get wet in the marsh area CommentThe GPS data actually heads towards South Burstall pass from Burstall pass
Posted By: bikeal
- Wed Aug 09 05:01:37 UTC 2006
UpsideJust uploaded the GPS data for this great hike. We did make it to the top of the mountain looking over the valley, but I forgot to turn on the GPS until I was partly down mountain ridge, and I was too pooped to go back up again! Beautiful views from the top! Just be careful of the alpine flowers as there is no marked trails, and it's a bit of a scramble to the top. DownsideSome mucky areas to cross in wet season (we did this hike early August). CommentGreat views of glaciers, waterfalls and lakes. First part of hike you can mountain bike.
Posted By: pmjwright
- Fri Mar 03 22:34:56 UTC 2006
UpsideGreat scenery for less than average effort. Nice views of Assiniboine. Great larch colours in fall. CommentIt's worth it to bike the first half, more time on top. Easy mt bike, and it's the least scenic part anyway. From the pass you can ridge walk S of the pass, or its short easy scramble up Snow Pass to N.
Posted By: MELdad
- Tue Jan 03 04:05:57 UTC 2006
Commentover xmas - good skiing off the pass and great snow shoeing around mud lake from the parking lot at burstall.
Posted By: MELdad
- Wed Nov 16 20:19:11 UTC 2005
Upsidegood info re the creek - but mostly always fordable except in late june - wet season, burstall is a classic in the eastern slopes - great backcountry skiing off both sides of the pass too Commentcreek mostly always fordable except in late june - wet season, burstall is a classic in the eastern slopes - great backcountry skiing off both sides of the pass too- we had dinner at Mount Engadine Lodge is was great