Healy Pass Hike in Banff National Park is a highly popular day trip for its colourful meadows filled with wildflowers. The 9 km trail can be extended to Egypt Lake as a perfect backpacking trip for beginners, or as in our case, a day hike.
In this blog post I will share with you why Healy Pass is an amazing hike, the details of the hiking trail, how to get there, what to know before you go, a lot of photos to show you what you can expect, how to extend the trip and hike to Egypt Lake as well (and camping options at Egypt Lake).
Most of the day hikes in the Canadian Rockies include either summiting a mountain or ending at a lake. And while Healy Pass is neither of those, it involves a very rare sighting in the Rockies – meadows bursting with wildflowers.
If you visit in summer, I guarantee you that instead of looking around on the mountain peaks; you’ll be looking down on all the flowers. At least that was me. Getting close to the mountain peaks is always a nice treat but seeing colours in the alpine is so joyful it will surely brighten up your day.
And of course, there is an Egypt Lake nearby if you’re ready to extend your hike and want to relax at a lake.
For more day hikes in the Banff National Park, read these:
- Aylmer Lookout Bike & Hike Trip
- Johnston Canyon Hike to Ink Pots
- Rockbound Lake Hike
- Sulphur Mountain Hike
- Glacier Lake Trail
- Mount St. Piran in Lake Louise
- Boom Lake
Pros & cons of the Healy Pass Hike with Egypt Lake
- Close to Banff
- Accessible by car or shuttle bus
- Easy straightforward and well-signed hike
- Colourful meadows all around
- Option to extend the hike to Egypt Lake
- Great hike for beginners
- Option to stay overnight at Egypt Lake
- Very popular hike with lots of people
Where is Healy Pass
Healy Pass is located in Banff National Park in Alberta, close to the border with British Columbia. The trailhead is located at Sunshine Village ski resort, 18 km from Banff and 160 km from Calgary.
How to get to Healy Pass Hike
From Banff, take Trans-Canada Highway heading west. After a few minutes driving, you will see the exit for Sunshine Village. And 10 km later, you will arrive at a big parking lot with gondola and lodge.
We rushed in the morning to get a spot after hearing what happens with parking lots at popular spots (I’m talking about the horrendous situation at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake where parking lots are full by 7am). I’m glad that the parking situation at Sunshine Village is not even close to being so bad. We arrived at 7:30 am on Saturday in mid-July and not even 1/4 of the parking lot was full.
If you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive, Sunshine provides a free shuttle from Banff. It runs every hour from 7 am to 6 pm, check their schedule here.
The trailhead to Healy Pass Hike is behind the gondola building (which includes a lodge, restaurant, gift shop and public washroom) clearly signed with a map.
Healy Pass Hike with Egypt Lake, Banff National Park
- Distance: 28,4 km –> 19,4 km return to Healy Pass & 9 km extra to Egypt Lake (took us 7 hours including breaks)
- Elevation gain: 1060 m (650 m if you hike to Healy Pass only)
- Maximum elevation: 2335 m
- Difficulty: easy trail with gradual incline; the trail to Egypt Lake is a lot steeper
- Best time to go: mid-July to September (summer for wildflowers and autumn for yellow larch trees)
- Gear: water bottle with filter (many creek crossings to fill up at), windproof jacket, running shoes (the trail is easy), bear spray, bug spray (mosquitoes were fierce)
We began hiking on a wide dirt road in the forest which shortly turns right and narrows. It’s flat and quite boring to be honest through the thick forest but that’s how hikes usually start. We also made sure the bear spray is within reach and shouted every once in a while to let bears know we’re in the area. The trail follows the Healy Creek which we crossed several times on wooden bridges.
There’s absolutely no need to carry water if you have a bottle with filter. We’re using Lifestraw bottles and drink from any water source while hiking.
After a few km in the forest, the trail occasionally crosses meadows with nice views of the surrounding mountains and then enters a forest again. Wildflowers starting to slowly appear and my sense of anticipation grew even bigger. I tried to photograph each kind to identify them when we finish the hike.
7 km from the start, the trail exits the forest and goes through an enormous meadow. The amount of magenta flowers (Michal would just call them pink) are staggering. From the right angle, the meadow looked more magenta/pink than green. Even though the incline steepened a bit, I was so amazed looking at all the flowers that I haven’t noticed the flat part of the trail is long gone.
The views opened up every direction – Monarch range on the left with small lakes underneath and Pharaoh Peaks in front of us. The walk through the meadow took us longer than to trail runners passing by simply because I was so astonished by every single flower.
Being raised in Slovakia, we used to see wildflowers on every meadow surrounding our hometown from spring to summer. In the Canadian Rockies, especially in Alberta province, there’s not much colour on the hikes, if I don’t count the turquoise lakes, but rather rocky mountains and evergreen trees. This was a completely different hike from any other we’ve done in the Rockies. As we agreed with Michal, the whole experience felt very European to us, like hiking in Switzerland. Or anywhere else in Europe, really.
When we reached the Healy Pass, we joined other hikers and enjoyed a snack with a view. If you hike 50 m further on the trail or up on the ridge on the left, you’ll get a spectacular view of the Egypt Lake and Scarab Lake connected with a huge waterfall.
Egypt Lake Hike extension
Because the hike felt very easy and we had plenty of energy left, we decided to continue to Egypt Lake and continued past the Healy Pass. The trail steepens as you lose 300 m elevation in about 3 km. The wildflower meadows continue for quite a while before the trail enters a forest. Just as we reached the flat part of the trail with Sphinx Mountain in front of us, we arrived at the Egypt Lake warden’s cabin.
The trail to the public shelter is clearly signed and Egypt Lake is about 1 km from the junction. The backcountry campground with the shelter looks like a cozy place to stay overnight for backpackers. We continued past the campground until we reached the Egypt Lake. I always look forward to reaching a lake and usually dip my legs or whole body in it. Since it was very windy, I was satisfied with cooling off just my legs.
By this point, we had 14 km in our legs already. It was time to head back. As we were hiking uphill towards Healy Pass, we heard thunder in the mountains behind us and the clouds darken. Suffice to say, our pace increased significantly as we had to hike over the pass before the storm came. About 1 km below the pass and very exhausted, we noticed the storm moved another direction and not towards us. What a relief.
We enjoyed another snack break on the Healy Pass and continued back to the parking lot. Day hikers were gone and we met a lot of backpackers heading to the Egypt Lake campground.
On the way back, there was one trail sign that confused us. It pointed right across the Creek towards Sunshine Meadows and left towards the Burgeau parking lot. If you want to return to the Sunshine village parking lot, you will continue left here.
It was a delightful and very long day for us. Even the Healy Pass Hike alone would make for an amazing hiking day! (and in Michal’s words – that would be enough)
There’s also an option to reach Egypt Lake from Redearth Creek Trail & Pharaoh Creek Trail making it a nice trail running or backpacking route. And that’s our plan for next trail running adventure. I highly recommend purchasing a trail map as there are even more options in the area.
Know before you go
- National park entrance
When you enter Banff National Park, you’re required to pay an entrance fee. You have a choice of either a daily pass or a yearly pass.
As of 2020, the fees are:
- 10 CAD per person for a daily pass, 20 CAD for a group/family
- 69.19 CAD per person for a yearly pass, 139.40 CAD for a group/family
The yearly Discovery Pass is valid for all National Parks in Canada. You can purchase it at the gate when you enter the national park, in the Visitor’s Centre or online here.
Read our recommendation: Hiking packing list for summer in the mountains
- Staying in Banff National Park
To have the most freedom and enjoy nature to the fullest while staying on a budget, we always recommend staying in the campgrounds. Banff National Park has many with picturesque scenery. Read our comprehensive guide about camping in Banff National Park for all camping info and lots of pictures of the campgrounds.
- Road closure
For trail closures due to wildlife presence or avalanche dangers in Banff National Park, check out the report from Parks Canada.
Accurate road conditions can be checked here.
- Trail report
Before you head out, check current trail conditions on Trail Report from Parks Canada.
- Bear country
As always in the Canadian Rockies, you are in bear habitat. You should always carry a bear spray (can be purchased at Visitor’s Centre or outdoor stores), know when and how to use it and make noise while hiking and running (so you don’ surprise any bears)! Carefully read these instructions on how to behave around them.
Additional reading about the Canadian Rockies
Hiking in Canmore & Kananaskis
- Comparison of hiking Ha Ling Peak vs. Mount Lawrence Grassi
- Little Lougheed Hike in Kananaskis
- Galatea Lakes
- Grassi Lakes
More hiking ideas:
- 20 best hikes in Banff National Park
- Hiking in Jasper National Park: 17 best hikes for all levels
- Hiking in Yoho National Park
Plan your trip to the Rockies:
- Epic travel guide to the Canadian Rockies
- 100 things to do in Banff National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Banff National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Yoho National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Jasper National Park
- Icefields Parkway itinerary: a scenic drive from Lake Louise to Jasper
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