Optional pre and post trip accommodation packages are available from $80 per person per night for shared room lodging ($160 for single occupancy). Purchase with booking. Subject to availability.
How difficult is it?
How fit and experienced need you be?
This trip is rated moderate to challenging due to three consecutive 16km days plus the rough nature of some of the trail. Because we are only carrying food for three nights, backpack weights are moderate. Participants will be carrying personal clothing and gear plus a fair share of food and group gear (tents, stoves, etc.). By keeping personal gear light, pack weights need not exceed 16kg (35lbs). Please read our Traveling Light & Making Backpacking More Fun for information and suggestions for clothing and equipment.
Prior hiking experience is not a prerequisite but is recommended. Participants must be in good physical condition able to carry a backpack over hilly terrain for a succession of longish days.
The trails range from exceptionally good in the first few kilometers to quite rough. We will hike a regular and steady pace that conserves energy but you still must be in reasonably good hiking shape and comfortable with rough trails. We cannot emphasize enough that training pays great dividends in enjoyment. We suggest you train by walking and/or cycling and/or hiking (ideally in hilly terrain).
The more we hike in the Rockies the more special places we discover! Join us this summer for our Banff-Sawback Traverse during which we travel to lakes and passes in the Front Ranges of Banff National Park. From spectacular Johnson Canyon we head north to Lake Louise via Pulsatilla Pass and Baker Creek with a visit to high and wild Badger Pass.
Day 1: At 7.30pm we meet at the Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office in Canmore. We'll go over the trip with you and check to see that you are properly outfitted.
Day 2: Johnston Canyon to Luellen Lake
We will pick you up after breakfast, deal with last minute gear issues and food packing then drive to the trailhead (45 minutes). We start on one of the most beautiful canyon trails in the Rockies, Johnston Canyon. The creek has worn an impressive canyon deep into the limestone. A steel walkway will take us across cliffs, over deep pools and beside impressive waterfalls before we leave the canyon to reach the upper valley at the Ink Pots. After pausing for lunch we continue up the valley leaving the tourists and manicured trails far behind. We hike through forests of spruce and lodgepole pine with the occasional open meadow before finally coming to our campsite by the tranquil waters of Luellen Lake. Distance: 17.1 km, Total elevation gain: 545 meters.
Day 3: Luellen Lake to Badger Pass
After a while the forest opens out and we emerge onto continuous meadows which dominate the upper valley. Just after the Badger Pass Junction we set up camp then head off later in the morning for a side trip to Badger Pass. At 2545m the pass is very high indeed, reached via open meadows and talus slopes and surrounded by a sea of tilting limestone peaks it is a wild and wonderful place. Content with the view we then retrace our steps to our camp. Distance: 16 km, total elevation gain: 745 meters, elevation loss: 595 meters.
Day 4: Badger Pass Junction to Baker Lake
Yet more superlative hiking as we hike through open meadows and larch stands towards Pulsatilla Pass which we reach mid-morning. On the pass at 2345m, Johnston Creek stretches far behind and ahead we see the mountains surrounding Baker Lake, our objective. The meadows continue and we pass by Pulsatilla Lake with perhaps a solitary loon gracing its alpine waters. The trail down into the forest of Wildflower Creek is rough and steep until we reach the .junction with Baker Creek and the final leg up to Baker Lake. Distance: 16.4 km. Total elevation gain: 695 meters, elevation loss: 545 meters
Day 5: Baker Lake to Lake Louise
Baker Lake with its meadow setting is an amazing place. On this, our final day we will have some time for exploration before heading past Ptarmigan Lake over Boulder Pass and down to Lake Louise to return to Canmore! Distance 11 km. Elevation gain 100 meters, loss 525 meters.
Meeting Place and Time
We will meet you at our Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office at 7.30pm the evening of Day 1.
Our office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
For your greater convenience we offer a pre-meeting shuttle service within Canmore. Please let us know in advance where you will be staying if needing this service. Pickup will occur between 7.00 and 7.20pm.
Please ensure that you have your hiking equipment with you.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures' guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our professional guides have extensive experience in the Canadian Rockies. Guides also have advanced wilderness first aid training and heritage interpretation accreditation. Guides carry emergency equipment including a first aid kit, bear spray and radio.
There will be a maximum of eight guests and a minimum of four.
Accommodation and Meals
On the trail you will be staying in modern, lightweight 2- and 1-person weather-proof tents.
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. For your convenience we can arrange hotel accommodations in Canmore for $160 per night. This accommodation can be booked with the trip online or by calling us. Subject to availability. Hostel accommodation is also available for $30 per night.
You can also make your own arrangements. Check our links page for a range of Canmore accommodations.
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
We supply all meals and trail snacks from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 5. Groups generally go out for dinner in Canmore on the final evening (own cost).
Trail cuisine is constructed from lightweight ingredients including our Yamnuska custom-made dehydrated dinners. Please specify any special dietary requirements you have on booking so we can incorporate them into our menus. A dietary surcharge will apply.
Getting to Canmore and Transportation
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west) and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore we will supply all transport needed for the trip.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. Greyhound Bus Lines (1 800 661 8747) serves Canmore from points east and west along the Trans-Canada Highway. Call 403 609 8790, 403 609 0300, 403 609 1490 or 403 609 8505 for taxis in Canmore. We can organize the ariport shuttle for you. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.
Clothing and Equipment
We supply group camping and cooking equipment plus a full emergency and first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal equipment (backpack, sleeping bag, etc.) and clothing. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures does have rental and retail equipment such as sleeping bags, mats, and backpacks. Rental Gear List. Contact us in advance to reserve.
Contact us if you have any questions or concerns or check out our latest video on how to pack your backpack
Luellen and Baker Lakes fish well for cutthroat and brook trout. Participants are welcome to bring lightweight fishing gear. National Park fishing licenses are required (purchase in Canmore). Fishing regulations apply.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit CDN is required at time of booking. Final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.
For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian and International Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.