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Hike the Banff Highline Trail on this backpacking tour in the Canadian Rocky Mountains


Hike Banff Highline on this classic Rocky Mountain backpacking trip. This trail travels through signature terrain of the Canadian Rockies. You’ll hike over several high passes, and see Mt. Assiniboine in the distance getting closer day by day. On route you will walk through vast wildflower meadows and stands of larches, and bypass multiple high mountain lakes. This trip’s uniqueness lays in the feeling of traveling a far distance, and every day has something new to offer as far as vistas and ambiance.  Once you’re getting tired from carrying a big pack, the opportunity to rest for a day by the foot of spectacular Mt. Assiniboine comes up. 

The Banff Highline Trail is a wonderful journey through the Canadian Rockies where you encounter much of the diversity to be found in these beautiful mountains. Day after day you cross spectacular passes interspersed with alpine lakes. Craggy peaks constructed of multi-hued quartzite give way to the massive limestone slabs typical of the Front Ranges.

Different elevations feature a variety of flowers and vegetation from the delicate moss campions of the alpine zone to the flowering shrubs and berries of the forest floor. A daily constant will be Mount Assiniboine's massive pyramid, first seen from Arnica ridge on Day 2 then gradually getting closer until we reach its base three days later.

Your guides have picked the most beautiful and accessible sections of the Continental Divide and hike south through Banff National Park, passing through both British Columbia and Alberta. There is excellent wildlife viewing opportunities throughout this whole trip. We will hike more than 100km of trails.

STARTING AT
$1695.00 CAD
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TRIP DETAILS
DESTINATION
EQUIPMENT/CLOTHING
ACCOMMODATIONS
MEALS & DINING
DATES & PRICING
ITINERARY
TRIP TYPE
Backpacking
SEASON

July to September

DIFFICULTY
Moderate / Challenging
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE
8
GUIDE INFORMATION

There will be a maximum of nine guests and a minimum of four. Your guide will be a fully-trained professional, licensed by Parks Canada.

 

RESTRICTIONS

No prior hiking experience is needed but would be an asset as you will be carrying backpacks of as much as 16 kg (35 lbs) for as long as six hours. The trails are generally excellent but there is a lot of climbing involved. 

This trip is rated challenging due to the succession of longish days (14 - 19km) plus the final 26km day (largely downhill). By using food drops at Sunshine Meadows and Mt. Assiniboine, backpack weights are moderate. Participants must be in good physical condition able to carry a backpack over hilly terrain for a succession of longish days.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Requirements: Sleeping bag, backpack, sleeping pad, hiking boots, plate spoon and large mug. 

TRANSPORTATION

Trips originate and end in Canmore, Alberta.

WEATHER

Summer temperatures average 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.

REGION
Southern Rocky Mountains
PROVIDED EQUIPMENT

Group camping and cooking gear, park permits, tents, transfers from Canmore.

SUGGESTED CLOTHING

Rain gear, fleece or wool underclothes, hat, hiking boots, running shoes, shorts, wool socks, warm pants.  A full clothing list will be supplied upon booking.  We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allow for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast changing temperature conditions. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. 

 

SUGGESTED ITEMS

Camera, daypack, water bottle, pocketknife, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, first aid kit, flashlight.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Accommodations are in tent camps along the trail.  

MEALS & DINING

MEALS & DINING

Your guides supply all meals and trail snacks from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 8. Groups generally go out for dinner in Canmore on the final evening (own cost).

Trail cuisine is prepared from lightweight wholesome ingredients including custom-made dehydrated dinners. For guests with dietary restrictions, your guides are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs.  

8 day tour, available July - September
$1695.00 / per person - CAD
July 8-15, July 20-27, August 3-10, August 17-24, August 24-31, August 31-September 7, September 9-16, 2018.
PAYMENT INFORMATION
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.

A 35% deposit is required to hold your reservation.

Balance of payment is due 60 days before trip commencement.
CANCELLATION POLICY & DETAILS
You have 24 hours from when you make your booking to change or cancel with no charge to you (provided your booking does not depart within 15 days). If cancelling your program up to 8 weeks before the program start, $105 will be withheld. Higher amounts are withheld if cancelling Semesters or Expeditions (details on request). Between 8 and 6 weeks before the program start, the deposit is forfeited. Cancellation less than 6 weeks before the program start and during the program results in loss of entire amount paid. We will gladly accept a substitute guest should you not be able to attend provided they meet the prerequisites for the program. Cancellations must be received in writing (letter, fax or email).

8 day tour, available July - September

Day 1

At 7.30pm we meet at the office in Canmore. We'll go over the trip logistics with you and check to see that you are properly outfitted.

Day 2

Vista Lake to Shadow Lake
We will pick you up after breakfast, deal with last minute gear issues, pack our food then drive to the trailhead (1hour). From a view point above the emerald waters of Vista Lake view point, we descend to the shore from where we commence the long climb past Arnica Lake to Arnica Ridge (2285m). Here we'll have our first views of Mt. Assiniboine nearly 100km in the distance. A short hike takes us down to the Twin Lakes before our final climb for the day to Gibbon Pass (2300m) with its extensive meadows. We drop again towards Shadow Lake and to the campground. Distance: 14 km, Total elevation gain: 1100 meters, Elevation loss: 830 meters. A great first day!

Day 3

Shadow Lake to Egypt Lake
Today we continue on towards Ball Pass junction (1950m) and through Whistling Valley, named for the whistling marmots found on the Pass. We hike past Haiduk Lake to Whistling Pass (2300m) with excellent views towards Mt. Ball. After taking in the vistas, we head down towards Egypt Lake (1995m). After setting up camp we can walk the short distance to the lake, to swim, fish or relax and watch for Bald Eagles that frequently circle above. Distance: 14 km, total elevation gain: 480 meters, elevation loss: 300 meters.

Day 4

Egypt to Howard Douglas Lake
Leaving Egypt Lake, we start climbing towards Healy Pass (2330m) where we emerge from the forest into the extensive alpine meadows. We'll hike through Simpson Pass (2350m), which was discovered in 1841 by Sir George Simpson,  Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. We continue with a long, gradual contouring climb which will bring us to the Wawa ridge overlooking the expansive Sunshine Meadows. The Monarch viewpoint here has one of the best views of the entire trip. Weather permitting we bypass Sunshine Village (famous ski hill) and cross several kilometers of meadow before the final short climb over Quartz Ridge to the Howard Douglas campground at 2275m. Distance: 19 km. Total elevation gain: 630 meters, elevation loss: 350 meters. It's a stunning day today!

Day 5

Howard Douglas to Og Lake
More meadows lead us to Citadel Pass (2360m) and the long descent into the Golden Valley (1960m) and the unique 'Valley of the Rocks'. We'll be gently ascending towards Og Lake campground (2060m). Distance: 16.4 km. Total elevation gain: 400 meters, elevation loss: 600 meters.

Day 6

Og to Magog Lake
With only 7 km of easy hiking to the campground at Lake Magog we can afford a well deserved leisurely start. Five kilometers of spectacular meadow hiking brings us to historic Mt. Assiniboine Lodge with the campground another 1.5 km beyond the Lake. We can spend the afternoon doing a short hike to Sunburst Lake or just take a well-earned nap! Distance: 7 km. Total elevation gain: 120 meters.

Day 7

Day hiking at Magog Lake
We'll stay at the Magog Campground again tonight, so we have the whole day to explore the Assiniboine area, or have a rest day. There are many options, from easy wandering in the meadows, to a scramble up Nub Peak where the views of Mt. Assiniboine are just fantastic. We can finish off with tea and cake at the Lodge before returning to camp. Distance and elevation change subject to group will! (8 - 14km).

Day 8

Magog to Mount Shark
We should be in great shape for our final day out to the trailhead. We'll head over Wonder Pass (2395m), where we leave Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park. Continuing down a steep trail, we have views of three beautiful blue and green lakes and we travel above the largest one, Marvel lake. Rejoining the main valley trail from Assiniboine Pass, we'll stop for lunch before setting out on a pleasant forest trail for the final 12km leg to the Mt. Shark (1770m) trailhead. A further 50 minute drive brings us back to Canmore for hot showers and an evening in which to celebrate our trip and life in the mountains. Distance: 26 km. Total elevation gain: 280 meters, elevation loss: 690 meters.