Beautiful Burstall Pass



Elevation Gain

604 Meters

Avg. Pace

10:57 / km



Cellular Coverage: No Coverage

Trail Type: Out and Back

Burstall Pass Fly-By

One of the coolest offshoots of starting this blog is I am now getting run friends send me trails I should run to add to the website — Shoutout to Stacey for this one. This is how Burstall Pass got on my radar. I knew I would get out for a run on the Thanksgiving long weekend but I really did not expect to get out for a run with my sister from Vancouver.

We planned for her to visit from Vancouver, fairly last minute. Our parents were out of town so Judi would be alone, my kids and Michelle were busy so I would be alone, I thought what a perfect opportunity to have Judi out for a visit.

I figured she would be up for a good mountain adventure and she did not let me down as you will soon learn.

The Story

The forecast was looking amazing! Low of 2 degrees with afternoon highs in the high teens. We knew this would make for a chilly start but I was also determined to get to the trailhead early enough so that we would not have to wrestle throngs of long weekend adventurers. Judi is not typically an early bird so I was pleased when she was relieved at my suggestion of a 7am wake up call and a 7:45am departure. This should put us at the trailhead for 9am with temps around 2 or 3 degrees. 

I introduced Judi to our tradition of a Beamers coffee and a giant cookie for the drive to the trail. 

Be cautions if you grab our GPX. We did a little back and forth on this one as you will learn.

Getting There

The trail head is about an hour out of Canmore up in Kananaskis country. A Kananaskis park pass is required. We drove up past the Nordic Center and up Spray Lakes Road. Past Grassi Lake and the Ha Ling tail head up past Spray Lakes. You turn right at the Mt. Engadine turnoff and follow the road for a few KM to a dirt pullout parking area. There is no cell reception once you get to Ha Ling trailhead. 

Google Maps Directions Here.


Burstall Pass Trail

Judi got to learn the term “Runnable” this long weekend, and she was determined not to let her big brother show her up. It felt like we had barely gotten out of the car and she was off and running up the trail. 

I was still trying to get the navigation loaded on my Garmin Fenix 5 and take a few photos of the gorgeous reflection in the lake at the beginning of the trail. 

The first 4.5km of this one is very runnable with less than 125m of gain. There is about a 1km climb of 150m gain to a plateau where you get another 1km of relatively flat, runnable trail. 

After that, you have a 1km climb up 200m to the top of the pass. We carried on a bit to see what other views might be beyond the top of the pass but turned back a little less than a KM past the obvious stopping point. 

The plan was to stop here for a sandwich but we chatted with a couple of ladies who asked if we went to the Lake lookout. When we told them we didn’t, they assured us it was worth the run back as it was only about 1km away. 

I was pleased that Judi was still game to explore. We ran back the way we came and added a short stint up a trail to the left that Judi had actually mentioned exploring earlier. The view was worth the effort. I am not sure the picture does it justice, but here is the view of Lake Leman.

The run back to the car was fabulous. Very gentle grade and very runnable trails.  The lake by the trailhead was stunning with it’s reflections a little different than they were when we started. 


What to Bring in October

It was quite cool at 8:30 am when we started. Somewhere around 2 degrees Celsius. I wore a tee shirt and my thin Arcteryx windbreaker. I packed an additional long-sleeved Icebreaker tee and a long-sleeved fleece in case it got cold when we stopped for a bite. 

2 litres of water in my bladder and a 500ml flask were more than enough for this outing, but I tend to over-prepare. I took the Zoleo satellite communication system so we could check in with Michelle and had a coms device in the event of an emergency.

It should go without saying these days, but we both carried our own bear spray. We made plenty of noise on the trail and always had the bear spray handy. 


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