Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass: A Great Day Hike in the Canadian Rockies
Hike to Harvey Pass past Bourgeau Lake is a spectacular, but not that notoriously known trek in Banff National Park. Are you looking for a beautiful off the beaten path hike when road tripping in the Canadian Rockies or for a one-day trip doable from Calgary? Read our guide on how to best enjoy Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass trek.
The out-and-back trip to Bourgeau Lake & Harvey Pass caught our eyes when we were looking for a program for our last day in Banff National Park.
When we visited the Canadian Rockies for the first time, we hadn't planned our Rockies itinerary that strictly and allowed ourselves to choose what we will do according to weather and our mood. In early autumn, the sky in the morning looked promising, and we hoped the hike to Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass would be the best way how to say goodbye to stunning Banff National Park.
Trek to Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass is considered moderate to difficult, depending on your level of fitness, and because you'll gain 1075 meters of elevation on only 10 kilometers, and it takes longer to get above the tree line (understand it is not that rewarding from the very beginning as other treks in the Rockies), you can be sure the number of tourists will drop significantly compared to the other attractions in Banff National Park.
We are not saying it is completely abandoned, but if you are looking for not that notoriously known trek near Banff or Lake Louise (some people even come to hike this trek on a one-day trip from Calgary), Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass Hike is a good chance to enjoy quite peaceful outdoor adventure.
Trek to Harvey Pass and back is 20.5 km long and should take 6-8 hours if you decide on hiking only to Bourgeau Lake and here turn around, your day will be approximately 5 kilometers, and an hour and a half or two hours shorter.
The trailhead to Bourgeau Lake & Harvey Pass starts on the small parking lot just off Trans-Canada Highway approximately 13 km from Banff.
The parking lot is quite small, and even this hike is for sure not that popular like Plain of Six Glaciers trek near Lake Louise, try to arrive early to find a space for your car. From the parking lot, you must first walk through a wildlife gate and close the door behind you, which gave us an uneasy feeling of being trapped behind the fence with all those friendly animals.
HOW TO GET AROUND CANADIAN ROCKIES
We traveled in the Canadian Rockies two times, always in a rental car, and cannot imagine a better way how to explore this beautiful part of Canada.
Make your car rental reservation well in advance, especially when planning your visit during summer time
From the very beginning, the path steadily climbs through the forest, and even though the scent of the trees and birds singing creates a great atmosphere, the walk itself is a bit boring (for approximately 3 kilometers) with only a few scattered views across the treetops.
You'll cross Wolverine Creek several times on the way and eventually you'll come to the waterfall created by the creek.
From this point, the path steepens again, but the point of interest is not that far, so keep going. Believe us that once you will leave this part of the hike behind you'll be grateful you didn't give up.
It won't take long, and dark blue-green Bourgeau Lake emerges from the forest.
The lake is surrounded by a steep rounded rock wall which was once shaped by snow and ice.
For many, Bourgeau Lake is a great lunch spot after a challenging nonstop uphill climb. Lake's deep and mysterious color creates a beautiful contrast with the massive rock wall behind it, and we could have sat here for long, but as we still had enough energy, we wanted to continue further.
Once you reached the lake, it would be a shame not to carry on a little bit further to Harvey Pass.
The trail from Bourgeau Lake to Harvey Pass is even steeper than it was before and after few hundred meters it gets rocky which makes the climb more challenging, but it is perfectly doable for any moderately fit person.
Stay on the trail, and when you pass the small unnamed lake, you are almost there.
The views from the trail open up, and you'll find yourself on a meadow with the second small unnamed lake on your right.
Only few hundred meters ahead is Harvey Lake, and when you continue from here for another 500 m, you'll reach Harvey Pass with incredible vistas of Mt. Assiniboine on the South Horizon, Sunshine Ski Village, and Sunshine Meadows.
Planning Guide for Traveling in the Canadian Rockies
Columbia Icefields Parkway - A Guide to the Perfect Road Trip
Lake O'Hara Guide: Hiking in Yoho National Park
How to Stay Safe in Bear Country
5 Most Beautiful Lakes in the Canadian Rockies
Garibaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge Trek: Hiking in British Columbia
Wells Gray Provincial Park - In the Land of Waterfalls
If you still have enough energy, you can consider continuing up to the top of Mt. Bourgeau about 400 m higher, which you will see on your right when facing the viewpoint. We didn't carry on though because dark clouds started rolling over the top of the mountain, so we decided for return by taking the same way down to the parking lot.
The way back is downhill and takes much less time and effort than the first half.
When you reach the parking lot, you can carry on to Lake Louise, Banff or to Calgary.
WHERE TO STAY BEFORE HIKING TO BOURGEAU LAKE AND HARVEY PASS
It depends on your travel itinerary in the Canadian Rockies, but you can spend a night before hiking Bourgeau Lake trail to Harvey Pass in either Lake Louise, Banff or even in Calgary. Hotels and hostels are packed in this area both in summer and winter, so make your reservation well in advance.
We've handpicked accommodation in every location so you can focus only on enjoying the beautiful nature around.
Lake Louise | Fairmont Château Lake Louise - There is not a more iconic hotel in the Rockies than this one standing on the shore of Lake Louise. If you find a room available, grab your chance.
Banff | Canalta Lodge - The cozy lodge close to the center of Banff offers beautifully appointed rooms and great atmosphere.
Calgary | Aloft Calgary University - Well-rated modern hotel near C-train is easily accessible from the city center or when you want to drive to the Canadian Rockies.
WHAT TO PACK FOR BOURGEAU LAKE AND HARVEY PASS HIKE
Do not overpack for only a one-day hike, but remember that weather in the Canadian Rockies is unpredictable and can change quickly. Here are 5 essential things you should pack with you to enjoy a comfortable trek.
Bear Spray | Remember that you are in a bear country. Encounters with bear are rare, but we saw quite a lot of them when hiking in the Rockies, and for your safety, it is better to carry bear spray. It is much cheaper to buy it online than on spot.
Hiking Poles | We used hiking poles for the first time in Nepal, and since than pack them for every longer trek because they help us keep pace, plus our knees feel much better.
Rain Poncho | Weather in the mountains is unpredictable. We always pack rain poncho no matter how great the forecast looks like.
You can read a more detailed all season packing list we've created for the Canadian Rockies.
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