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Mountains and Stunning Views on the Hike to Buller Pass

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If you’re looking for a hike that takes only four hours and delivers stunning mountain views then you would do well to choose the moderate hike to Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country. From your perch at the pass you can see down to the Rainbow Lakes (where you can camp with a permit) and over to Guinn Pass. From Guinn Pass you can hike down to the Galatea Lakes and out to Highway 40. Look in the other direction and you’ll see snow covered Mount Assiniboine. Now that’s a payoff for a two hour ascent!

Looking down at the Rainbow Lakes from Buller Pass (you can camp here with a permit)

Looking down at the Rainbow Lakes from Buller Pass (you can camp here with a permit)

John and I chose the hike to Buller Pass as the trailhead was a mere five minutes away from where we were staying at Mount Engadine Lodge. From Calgary, it would typically be a two hour drive to get to the trailhead, so this was a treat – yet it wouldn’t take up our entire day – a good thing as we’d left John’s elderly Mom at the lodge.

The trailhead is directly across from the Buller Mountain day use area. If you’re coming from Canmore it’s about 31 kilometres from the Canmore Nordic Centre. If you see Buller Pond, you’ve gone a hundred metres to far. From the junction of Highway 40 and the Smith-Dorrien/ Spray Lakes Trail it’s roughly 32 kilometres.

Hiking to Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country

There is a parking lot and day use picnic area at Buller Pond – across from the trailhead

The trail climbs 670 metres (2,198 feet) over 7.3 kilometres to reach the pass. The ascent is generally moderate with a couple of lovely flat sections. For the first hour you’re in the woods and thanks to a forest fire there are some decent views. Great, green mossy sections add a blast of colour to the charred landscape. Stop and listen through here as you might hear and see a three-toed woodpecker.

Hike to Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country

The woods early on in the hike have an open feel about them

Reach the small waterfall at about the one hour mark. In summer, it would be a refreshing place to cool off. Shortly after the falls there’s a faint trail that takes you northeast towards North Buller Pass. You would need an extra two to three hours to include this pass on the hike.

Reach this turquoise pool about an hour from the trailhead

Turquoise pool about an hour from the trailhead

Climb through golden coloured larches to a viewpoint over a gorge. From there you can see the trail as it gently curves towards Buller Pass. It will take another 30 minutes of climbing from here to reach the pass.

John climbing out of the trees on the way to Buller Pass, Kananaskis Country

John climbing out of the trees on the way to Buller Pass

There's still colour to the larches at the end of September

There’s still colour to the larches at the end of September

It's a rocky world above treeline on the way to Buller Pass

It’s a rocky world above treeline

Buller Pass, Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Admiring the mountain landscape and wishing we had time for more exploration

Hike to Buller Pass - That's Mt. Assiniboine covered in snow in the background

That’s Mt. Assiniboine covered in snow in the background

Hike to Buller Pass - So glad we were hiking when the larches were ablaze with yellow

So glad we were hiking when the larches were ablaze with yellow

Even among the dead trees there is beauty with all the texture

Even among the dead trees there is beauty with all the texture

If you’re heading to Kananaskis Country to hike, you would do well to choose the hike to Buller Pass. And if you don’t mind a little routefinding and a lot more climbing then make a loop and include North Buller Pass. Just don’t forget a topo map.

Bull moose seen near Mount Engadine Lodge on the way to the Buller Pass Trailhead

Bull moose seen near Mount Engadine Lodge on the way to the Buller Pass Trailhead

On the way to the trailhead keep a sharp eye out for moose. I have almost always seen them in the fall near the turn-off for Mount Engadine Lodge. This fellow was around on both mornings we were at the lodge.

More Kananaskis Country hikes you might enjoy:

The fabulous hike to Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country

Leigh

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
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Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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