West Wind Pass is a beautiful hike up to a mountain pass in Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. This is an unofficial trail which means no one maintains the trail. Route finding can be challenging at times and there are cliffs. The trail is quite steep most of the hike and the loose trail makes the descent challenging. Best to hike West Wind Pass when it is clear of snow.
Insider Tip for Families: This is a challenging hike for kids. Also, it is very windy in the pass so make sure to bring extra clothes. The rocks that jut out from the mountain at the pass are perfect for shelter and climbing.
Distance: 4.8 km (3 mi) out and back
Elevation: 390 (1280 ft)
Highlights: Mountain Pass, Mountain Views, Valley, Creek
Facilities: Closest outhouse is Driftwood Day Use Area 2 km before the trailhead
Optional Gear: Carrier
TrailRider Rating: Challenging
From Canmore, take the Smith Dorrian Road to Spray Lakes. After the Canmore Nordic Centre turnoff set your odometer to zero. After 18.5 km, park on the side of the road.
West Wind Pass hike starts on the side of the road opposite to the lake. There is no sign for the trailhead.
It should be noted that West Wind Valley is closed from December 1st to June 15th but not West Wind Pass. Make sure to return the way you came to avoid disturbing the elk and bighorn sheep.
In just a short distance, the hike offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Once on the trail, follow the slightly wider trail to the left and do not cross the creek. Soon after you will see a smaller trail on the right side. Follow that trail through the trees.
The trail is steep but offers the occasional vista of the mountains and West Wind Creek. Contrary to popular belief, West Wind Pass did not receive its name because the pass is windy. The hike was named after West Wind Creek.
There are a few trails that sprout off the main trail that also lead up to the pass that can make route finding a little confusing at times. If you keep heading up the trail with the creek down the cliff on the right side, you are heading in the right direction. The cliff is steep and caution should be used as children will need to hike alongside the edge.
The trail climbs most of the way up to the pass. Right before the pass, you will head up a series of switchbacks before the trees open and the pass can be viewed in the distance. Enjoy a snack at the pass below one of the rocks extending from the mountain for shelter from the wind.
Return the way you came using caution on the steep descent. The trail has loose rocks that can cause sliding and slipping as you make your way down the mountain.
While Canmore is close with many shops and restaurants, try driving south away from Canmore down Highway 742 for 23 minutes to the secluded and pristine Mount Engadine Lodge to enjoy their afternoon tea from 2:00-5:00 pm. Call ahead to make sure there are no private bookings and confirm the price ahead of time.
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