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A Complete Guide to Healy Pass Trail

A Complete Guide to Healy Pass Trail

Healy Pass Trail is a great starting point if you’re just beginning your hiking journey, and it’s one of the most coveted areas to visit for adventurers too because of the great views! You’ll see some of Canada’s best sceneries on this trail alone, and they are truly breathtaking. 

To get you started with the hiking essentials you need to conquer this trail, we’ve formed a quick and easy guide for you that tells you all you have to know before venturing to Healy Pass. Let’s begin! 

Time Zone

Canada Standard Time (GMT-5)

Things to Know

Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)

(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: English 

Calling Code: +1

Address: Improvement District No. 9, AB T0L 2C0, Canada

Pets are allowed: Dogs are permitted on the trail but must be kept on a leash. The trail is suitable for dogs that can handle long distances​.

Facilities at the grounds: Toilets are available at the trailhead and about halfway through the hike at a campground. Remember to bring your own toilet paper.

Wildlife encounters: Banff National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes, deer, and elk. It’s essential to carry bear spray and know how to use it as a precaution​.

Wear the proper hiking boots: Choose hiking boots that are waterproof, breathable, and have good traction and ankle support. Be sure to break them in before heading to the hike to avoid blisters and discomfort.

Parking: Sunshine Village has ample parking, avoiding the early morning parking rush common in other areas. However, an early start is still recommended to enjoy solitude on the trail and to return before any afternoon thunderstorms.

Trail Map and navigation: The trail is easy to follow, but using the AllTrails app or carrying a paper map like the Gem Trek hiking maps can be useful for navigation and tracking your hike​.

How to Get to Healy Pass Trail 

To get there, you’ll generally need to start from the town of Banff or nearby areas. Here’s a basic guide on how to reach Healy Pass Trail:

Driving from Banff to the Trailhead

  • From Banff, take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) west.
  • Exit onto Highway 93 South, also known as the Banff-Windermere Parkway, towards Radium Hot Springs.
  • Continue on Highway 93 until you reach the Sunshine Village ski area turnoff.
  • Turn right onto the Sunshine Village access road and follow it to the parking area at the end. This is where the trailhead for Healy Pass is located.

Public Transportation and Shuttles

  • During the summer months, there may be shuttle services available from Banff to Sunshine Village. These shuttles can drop you off close to the trailhead.
  • Check with the Banff visitor center or the Sunshine Village website for the latest shuttle service schedules and booking requirements.

Best Time to Go to Healy Pass Trail 

The best time of day to start your hike in Healy Pass Trail is early in the morning. Setting out early (around sunrise or shortly after) offers several advantages: cooler temperatures, fewer people on the trail, and the chance to see wildlife that is more active during the cooler hours of the day. 

Also, starting early ensures you have plenty of daylight to complete your hike, enjoy breaks, and take in the stunning scenery without rushing. Remember to pack accordingly for changing weather conditions throughout the day.

How to Hike Through Healy Pass Trail

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DifficultyModerate to Difficult
Distance20.3 km
Duration5–7 hours
Trail TypeOut and back
Surface Initial stretch through dense forest, offering shade and cooler temperatures. Two brief, steep, and rocky challenges; manageable but require effort. Final stretch into stunning meadows, highlighted by wildflower displays in season​.

Step 1: Get to the trailhead

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To embark on your journey to Healy Pass, start by driving to the Sunshine Village Ski Resort, located a mere 20-25 minutes from the Town of Banff. As you navigate west on the Trans-Canada Highway, keep an eye out for the Sunshine Village turnoff. 

Upon arrival, the trailhead awaits you just past the VIP parking area, with clear signage to lead the way. This trailhead benefits from its location at the Sunshine Village Ski Resort’s expansive parking area, making it an accessible starting point for your adventure. 

Notably, the ample parking capacity at Sunshine Meadows Gondola is a highlight, ensuring availability even during peak times, a stark contrast to the often crowded conditions at other popular trailheads in the area​ 

Step 2: Hike to Healy Pass

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Embark on an 18.3 km round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 890 meters. Despite its initial appearance as a moderate-to-challenging trek, the gradual incline makes the journey more manageable than anticipated. 

Start with a gentle climb, navigating through the forest and across creeks. The incline becomes slightly steeper towards the end, but the path remains clear and the stunning views as you approach Healy Pass are your reward.

The trail has limited facilities, with toilets at the start and another halfway through at a campground. Remember to bring your own toilet paper since it might not be available at the campground.

On Timing Your Hike:

Allocate approximately 6.5 hours for the hike, accounting for variable pacing and breaks to enjoy the scenery. The trail’s average slope is a manageable 7.3% over 9.1 km, making the ascent to the pass an enjoyable part of your adventure.

Step 3: Enjoy the scenery and wildlife

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As you make your way, July hikers will be greeted by vibrant wildflower displays, while autumn visitors can admire the golden larch trees during “Larch Madness” in early to mid-October. 

Wildlife is abundant too, so educate yourself on bear and cougar safety to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

In fact, the wildlife along the Healy Pass trail is just as diverse and captivating as the scenery. While specific sightings aren’t detailed in the sources, Banff National Park is home to a variety of animals that you might encounter on your hike. 

The park’s ecosystem supports large mammals such as black bears, grizzly bears, elk, and deer, as well as smaller creatures like squirrels, chipmunks, and a plethora of bird species. 

This means that the area’s rich biodiversity brings unexpected wildlife sightings, making each visit unique if you’re going to hike during specific times during the year.

Step 4: Reach Healy Pass and beyond

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Upon reaching Healy Pass, take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and the expansive larch forest. 

For those with energy to spare, consider extending your hike to Egypt Lake. This adds both distance and elevation but is often done as a multi-day adventure, with options for overnight stays at the Egypt Lake campground or shelter.

Where to Eat Near Healy Pass Trail 

Mad Trappers

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Address: 1 Sunshine Access Road, Banff, AB T1L 1J5, Canada


Contact Details: +14037627881

Opening Hours: Daily 10:30 AM–12 AM

Mad Trappers revels in its historic charm, with walls adorned with artifacts and photos from yesteryears. 

Renowned for its applewood-smoked meats and Southwestern dishes, the menu offers a unique taste of history. 

Diners can enjoy specialties like the Smoked Brisket Sandwich and Southwestern Quinoa Salad, making it perfect for a lunch break with a side of the past in the Old Sunshine Mountain Lodge.

Maclab Bistro 

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Address: 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr, Banff, AB T1L 1H5, Canada


Contact Details: +14037626141

Opening Hours: Daily 7 AM–1 AM 

The Maclab Bistro brings an air of mystery and promise of a new culinary experience to Sunshine Village. While details are scarce, the intrigue alone makes it a must-visit. 

The menu is expected to feature innovative dishes with a chocolate twist, inviting guests to be among the first to discover its unique offerings. It’s an invitation to explore culinary creativity on the mountain.

Nikko Sushi 

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Address: 22372 Fraser Hwy, Langley, BC V3A 4H6, Canada


Contact Details: +16045323147

Opening Hours: Daily 11:30 AM–9:30 PM

At Nikko Sushi, a warm welcome awaits those seeking refuge from the chilly mountain air, offering four original Sunshine flavors of ramen. 

This cozy spot is perfect for hikers and skiers looking to enjoy a hearty bowl of ramen and a plate of fresh sushi! With broths simmering for hours and noodles made fresh, it’s a delightful stop for lunch where warmth and comfort are served in every bowl.

The Alpine Grill

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Address: 920 NY-30, Northville, NY 12134, United States

Website: N/A

Contact Details: +15189245655

Opening Hours: Daily 3 PM–9 PM

The Alpine Grill embarks on a global culinary journey with its diverse food booths. From pizza and pasta to pho and burritos, the menu caters to a myriad of tastes. 

Located in the Lookout Lodge, it provides a convenient and flavorful refueling station with options for both breakfast and lunch, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Lookout Sports Lounge 

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Address: 240 St Paul St W, St. Catharines, ON L2S 2E7, Canada


Contact Details: +19056858833

Opening Hours: Daily 5–11 PM

The Lookout Lounge offers a serene setting to relax and dine, surrounded by panoramic mountain views. 

Situated in the Lookout Lodge itself, it’s the ideal spot for a leisurely lunch break—especially if you love watching sports games! The menu complements the view with dishes that are both comforting and inspiring, making every meal a scenic adventure. 

What’s the Weather Like in Healy Pass Trail 

Weather at Healy Pass Trail varies with the seasons. In summer, from July to September, days are warmer with temperatures around 15°C to 20°C, ideal for hiking amid blooming wildflowers. 

Autumn, particularly September, sees cooler weather with temperatures dropping to 10°C to 15°C, showcasing golden larches. 

Winters are cold and snowy, with temperatures often below freezing, making the trail more suited for experienced winter hikers. Spring can be unpredictable with lingering snow and milder temperatures. Always check current weather conditions before heading out.

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