Elevation Gain: 993 m (3,255 ft) to cliff band on first peak. 1579 m ( 5,170 ft) to summit.
Although this is classified as an easy, non-technical climb or scramble it is a steep and strenuous hike to the 8495 foot summit of Mt. Rundle. Over a distance of 6.5 km you will gain almost 900 m in elevation.
Be prepared for cold, windy conditions as you climb higher. Be prepared to stop and descend immediately if there is any sign of severe weather. We have experienced lightning, hail, and heavy rain in summer thunder cells that had started mudslides on the switchbacks.
Parks Canada provides a detailed route description in Climber's Guide to Mount Rundle. Pick one up at the Banff information center and review the tips, recommendations and gear lists. You can also refer to Alan Kane's ?Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies?
The GPS file has the waypoints for the Rundle trailhead junction on the Spray River trail and the summit, and the track is a two way track between the two points.
Parking for the Spray River trailhead is located near the Spray River bridge on the road to the Banff Springs Golf Course. Cross the bridge and follow the paved road just past the first fairway to the start of the trail. Follow a fire road for about 300m to the Mt Rundle Trail junction.
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Posted By: Jfadderl
- Wed Jan 24 06:47:56 UTC 2018
UpsideEasy access from Banff, and surprisingly not very busy. Incredible views from the top! The switchbacks through the forest are very pleasant - barely a slog (especially by west coast standards) and the trail is well maintained. An excellent introduction to Rockies scrambling! DownsideOne thing that has not been mentioned is the danger of rock fall - not to be underestimated on the final slope after the Dragon's back. When I did this hike in Aug 2017, a party high above me and my partner kicked off a dishwasher sized boulder - this monster slowly accelerated towards us for 30secs before soaring off the lip into the gully to the climbers right off the top of the Dragons back (not to be too dramatic, but it sounded like a speeding car when it passed us, and was probably going ~70km/h when it passed us). We were shook up but completely the hike. A helmet would not have made a difference, but I would pack one for next time!
Posted By: A.schroeder.1
- Sun Aug 20 01:40:22 UTC 2017
UpsideVery rewarding. Fun but difficult. CommentI've done this summit twice, and its become one of my favourites. Not, not a beginners hike.
The most accurate description that I recommend reading is the trip report below, Posted By: ScrambleBanff - Mon Aug 12 17:01:52 UTC 2013
Posted By: canadacandy
- Sat Oct 03 04:30:28 UTC 2015
UpsideBeautiful views from the top. Challenging, however achievable. DownsideIf you blink you will miss the path. Not marked by tag or sign. It's between the two parking lots, just walk very slowly and look for a path only large enough for single file. CommentMy friend and I are both experienced hikers and did this trail in about 4 hours return which included a beer and lunch at the summit (tradition). Absolutely gorgeous views from the top. Likely to see goats on this trail too.
Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Mon Aug 19 00:00:11 UTC 2013
UpsideGreat view of Cascade, Lake Minnewanka, Canmore, etc. Scrambling on the "dragon's back" is nice. Very challenging on the last 2 km or so. Trail is really easy to follow, many indications. DownsideVery steep and hard on the last 2km or so, not as rewarding as many other hikes for the effort I think. I would do Mt Temple or Bourgeau again before redoing that one. About 6km in the forest, that's a long way before your starting to get great viewpoints. CommentAbout 15 km to the top, it was a great and challenging hike. I liked it but not the best I've made. It is extremely windy sometimes, no better views than many other hikes around or at Lake Louise and in Kananaskis. But still one to try once if you want to sweat it all! Many people stopped at the first kind of summit you see. There is about 150-200 m more to do on the ridge to get to the summit actually. There is exposure then, but path is easy, just take your time! We did it in 3 hours up, 2h30 down, but we were exhausted at that pace. I think it would take 6-7 hours to do it at a reasonable pace.
Posted By: ScrambleBanff
- Mon Aug 12 17:01:52 UTC 2013
UpsideHike is done mostly in the sunshine, not very many people on the trail, and the hike simply takes your breath away. DownsideHike is done mostly in the sunshine, not very many people on the trail, and the hike simply takes your breath away. CommentSeriously though, this was my first ever scramble, and I've been waking up for 9 years greeted by this horizon-dominating peak. It was about time.
Early notes - pack bug-spray in the summer time, gloves or poles are going to be helpful, and bring lots of water ... explanation to come later.
For those of you who've hiked the lower summits around Banff (Tunnel, Stoney Squaw, Sulphur) this hike ... isn't like those hikes. After an early and rocky uphill "warm-up" the trail begins to even out and circumvent the base of the mountain. You'll cross a couple washouts, and then you'll hit a series of switchbacks. The views from these trails give you decent shots of the gondola from across the corridor. After you reach a strange shaped boulder, though, things get noticeably tougher.
The second stage of this scramble requires that you traverse a big washout. Look for the signs. Once across, you begin an uphill ascent that makes you wish you packed light. Seriously. I don't know what the grade was, but I brought a full banquet on my back (I was expecting guests) plus multiple changes of clothes (could have gotten away with a rain jacket) and I lugged this thing through a steep obstacle course of roots, rocks and branches. It's pretty much straight up, or rather, it's a small series of zigzags that take you more or less straight up. And then it gets ... more fun.
Once you emerge out of this, you're getting free of the treeline. The scree starts here. Get used to this stuff, because you'll be on it for a good while. This begins stage three of this challenge, the longest and hardest (and final - keep this in mind) stage.
This is where how much water you've packed becomes key. I was stupid, not really respecting the mountain very much on my first try, plus going it alone because my partner didn't show. I elected to bring only two bottles (1.5 litres) of water in favor of a bottle (glass, corked) of wine. Whatever romantic ideas I had entertained were going to be reduced to plain stupidity at the end of this trek.
Regardless, the top half of Rundle is made up ENTIRELY of scree. Combined with the sun (which in summer can be relentless) and the dust caused by the rocks constantly wearing each other down, your mouth can get pasty, fast, and having access to water is pretty essential. In fact, if you're like me and not used to the scale of this hike, you might consider packing only a few light snacks and just keep more water with you. Your body will be working hard, so too much food or drink at any time might be more than it can handle. And forget about bringing wine.
The most daunting feature on this final stage is the famous "Dragon's Back" ridge, which is a thin spine of loose scree you'll need to navigate in order to reach the peak. Both sides of this ridge drop away into deep ravines, so if you suffer from mild vertigo, stick to the middle of the ridge.
Once beyond the Dragon's Back, you're more or less picking and choosing your own line to the top. The view from here is - as mentioned - breathtaking. Looking back along the Goat Range, you can see Assinaboine in the distance, and Cascade (another local peak and my next destination) sits alone beside the western end of Lake Minnewanka. Without leaning too far over, you can even see neighboring Canmore off in the distance. The winds can kick up here pretty high, so it might be a good time to bring out your extra layer, but other than that, this peak is worth all of the trouble and angst it creates in order to get here.
And then, of course, you need to get back down!
I rated this hike as excellent only because - up until now - it's been the first of it's kind for me. Once I get a few more under my belt I might be able to give some more honest and comparable feedback.
Departed - 7:00am Returned - 4:30pm Rested - 12:00-1:00pm Total Time Hiking - 8.5 hours
Posted By: peterline64
- Wed May 22 02:27:28 UTC 2013
CommentFYI only, ran it (what was runnable), took me 3h round trip. great trip
Posted By: slickster
- Thu Sep 01 05:15:34 UTC 2011
UpsideThe summit ridge near the summit was very nice. Good views of Canmore as well as Sulphur mountain and mount Cascade. DownsideThe Dragon's back is very steep and loaded with scree. (900m elevation gain over 2.5 km). CommentIt took me 8.5 hours for up and down from Bow Falls to Rundle summit (I did not do the entire Rundle traverse). It was a tough grind. where the park trail ends, the grade gets really steep as you approach and traverse the dragon's back. Total gain was over 1500m, and the summit is about 2950m. about 8.8km from Bow Falls to the summit.
Posted By: miravz
- Mon Aug 16 22:24:10 UTC 2010
QuestionCan anyone tell me if there is water along route, or do you need to pack it? I have seen reviews that it has taken up to 17 hours to traverse the entire ridge and also some that say less. Can anyone give a more accurate idea? My partner & I were thinking of spending a few days to do it, but this may not be necessary.ANSWERS are in this forum: Rundle Ridge
Posted By: inhalelife
- Tue Mar 02 01:06:08 UTC 2010
Upsidegreat view from the top, lots of scrambling. huge gains in elevation over a small period of time. Downsideit gets really chilly up at the peak- be prepared, bring lots of layers! oh, and snacks! Commentstarting from Goat Creek, we spent about 80% of the hike scrambling. we did the trail feb28 2010 and it was pretty snowy at the top but just be careful on the way down as the snow is melting/melted and can be muddy and slippery.
Posted By: theirishman_9
- Wed Feb 18 22:21:25 UTC 2009
Questionwould it be possible to do the mt rundle trail in march? or would that be a restricted issue?ANSWERS are in this forum: mt rundle