Pharoah’s Peak via Healy Pass



Elevation Gain

2003 Meters

Avg. Pace

13:51 / km



Cellular Coverage: No Coverage

Trail Type: Out and Back

The Story

It was the week before the Canadian Death Race and I am running the Near Death Marathon. Theoretically it is taper week. However, when your friends invite you on a mountain adventure you have to say yes. Unfortunately Michelle was not available to join us so this one was just me, Janelle and Tania. The plan was to meet in Canmore and do the 35 minute commute to the trailhead at Sunshine Village. 

I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated at the thought of running with these two strong ladies. Janelle recently completed the Moab 240 and Tania is a strong runner as well. We actually had a great chat about this while we were out on the mountain. Most of us trail runners really don’t care about pace and just love to share adventures so while it is a natural reaction to feel intimidated running with friends that are faster than you, it really should’t be something that holds you back. 

We got a little lost heading out of the parking lot so don’t follow our GPX track unless you want to add on some bonus KM’s. We started to wonder early about our direction of travel to which I replied 

“It feels like it is too early to consult the map.” 

Janelle concured with a “This looks trailish.”

As our chosen path started looking less and less trailish we consulted the map and realized we had indeed missed a turn. We backtracked and got ourselves sorted out back on the proper trail. The grade was gentle enough that it was largely runnable with a few steeper sections that required a power hike. Janelle took the lead and pushed the hills a little more than I likely would have otherwise. It was a great reminder to me that I am stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for.

The Trails

The trails were gorgeous, from tree covered path, creek crossings to open meadows they were simply magical. We ran up to Healy Pass then down to Egypt Lake. We took a short detour off the path to Pharoah’s Peak to go have a look at Egypt Lake. It was well worth the effort. We overshot the turn to scramble up to the peak on Whistling Pass trail once we passed Egypt Lake. The branch is not obvious but you can easily see the runout up the peak. Just be aware as the turn is very easy to miss. 

The climb to the top was about 1 km and covered about 400m of elevation gain. It was a calf burner for sure. As you can see, the views from the top were well worth the effort. 

If you wanted to make this more of a run day you could easily forego the climb to the top of Pharoah’s Peak and just keep running up the pass. I suspect Michelle and I will be back a few times for shorter runs just up to Healy Pass which was gorgeous in it’s own right.   

Fecal or Fungal

On our run back down, Janelle introduced me to a game they play with their kids out on the trails. It’s called Fecal or Fungal and as you can imagine the game is pretty simple. You identify something on the trail and everyone has to guess Fecal or Fungal? It is honestly not as easy as one might think! 

Getting There

The trail head at the parking lot of Sunshine Village in Banff. It is about 40 minutes from Canmore to get there. Google Maps Directions Here.


This trip may have redefined what I call runnable. I joked while we were out there that sections were “Janelle runnable.” The gain for most of it was not so much that you couldn’t run it and the gentle grade made for exceptional running on the way back. Certainly most of the trail to Egypt Lake was runnable with a few sections that made the grade just a little too steep to run. 

What to Bring

I took a 2 litre bladder and a 500 ml filter flask in my Soloman ADV12. I brought about 17 pieces of nutrition plus a turkey sandwich for the summit. I did run out of water on the way down from the summit. That was just a lack of foresight on my part. I could have topped up my water at Egypt Lake before we headed on to Pharoah’s Peak. I brought poles but did not use them. Tania used hers as she has a problem knee and the extra stability of the poles was a welcome addition. 

There is no cell service out there so a Garmin inReach or Zoleo is definitely in order. We brought an inReach mini. Bear Spray is always a good idea in the backcountry.

My phone died and I did not have my portable charger. This could have been problematic if I had ended up needing the offline map I had downloaded. Fortunately Tania’s phone had battery and the map which allowed us to see when we overshot the ascent.  

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