Harvey Pass - Banff National Park - Hiking Alberta

 

Harvey Pass is a spectacular hike past Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

This hike to Harvey Pass begins from Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.  The more aggressive extension to the Bourgeau Lake hike will add 2.5 kilometres (1⅝ miles) one way and 295 meters (970 feet) of elevation for a total return distance, from the trail-head at the TransCanada Highway, of 20 kilometers (12½ miles) and total gross elevation of 1,005 meters (3,297 feet).

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Leaving after lunch with creek hopping over the outlet of Bourgeau Lake which feeds Wolverine River

 

The trail along the north shore of Bourgeau Lake gradually veers through and past wetland ponds to the other end of the lake where a trail to the left leads to the lakeshore.  Continuing straight to Harvey Pass invokes a fairly steep ascent, first on rocky trail past a spectacular, roaring waterfall and then on scree towards the 'notch' above. 

To the right is a herd of mountain sheep are grazing on a grassy slope.  Among them are the very cute and young, learning survival skills from parents who are in the final stages of molting from winter coats.  Unknown at this time, the seemingly common herd of mountain sheep wildlife encounter will develop into an amazing experience.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Trail side ponds in wetlands adjacent to Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Preparing mentally for the steep scree climb from the far end of Bourgeau Lake to the notch. Note the trail to Bourgeau Lake.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A herd of about a dozen mountain sheep graze on grassy slopes slightly above

 

The good but steep trail over scree passes up and around cascading and twisting white water falling on its way to Bourgeau Lake.  Rocky trail is periodically punctuated by steep snow slopes which requires punching feet into the snow for good grip.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada White water cascades from the notch to Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Steep sections of snow punctuate rocky scree trail on the route to the notch

 

As elevation is gained aggressively, Bourgeau Lake appears increasingly smaller below and adopts the rich turquoise color typical of pristine alpine lakes.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Bourgeau Lake has the typically turquoise hue of an alpine lake when viewed from above

 

The hike past and through the notch encounters a tiny shallow lake filled to the brim and spilling through the notch to contribute to waterfalls enjoyed on the ascent.  The hike proceeds past the notch into a mecca of very beautiful vistas of mountain summits, snow fields, cornices, rock, ice and rushing water in a massive mountain-surrounded bowl.  WOW!

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada At the notch, the trail levels and tracks the shoreline of a tiny but very beautiful, shallow lake.

 

As the hike proceeds past the notch, 25 meters to the right, the respectable herd of mountain sheep, which have almost indiscernibly been descending and approaching the trail position, begin to maintain the same pace and walk alongside.  Over the past 2 kilometers, the herd have gradually descended from higher slopes to match trail elevation and have now become adjacent hiking partners.  No fear is exchanged.  Curiosity is shared particulary from the young.  In all my years in the mountains, I have never experienced this particularly incredible and very special wildlife event.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Mountain reflections create artistic images of a very beautiful place, Still water. The echo of falling water. Cool air.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The notch is clearly defined as we walk the shoreline to continue on to Harvey Pass

 

Past the tiny, shallow lake the view back is impressive on the turn left, prior to hopping over a small creek to take in the expansive view of corniced mountain ridges and summits.  The herd of mountain sheep stay to graze.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The view back to the shallow lake and the notch as we continue on to Harvey Pass

 

In the bowl, surrounded by the peaks of surrounding mountains, there are several lakes including Harvey Lake and a brilliant blue, melt pond.  The final ascent to Harvey Pass is a stiff climb on scree made unstable by snow melt.  At the top there are two ridges separated by an incredibly beautiful and nearly frozen pond, which likely disappears for a short span in late summer or fall each year.  The hike around the left side of the blue, ice filled pond to surrounding fabulous vistas reveals expansive views from the far side of Harvey Pass and skies of heavy weather slowly moving towards the lofty position.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The first ridge of Harvey Pass is clearly visible to the left. It is a short, steep climb away.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The blue ice pond divides the distance to the far side of Harvey Pass and spectacular vistas beyond

 


 

Click here for a video of the view from Harvey Pass above Bourgeau Lake.

 


 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Views from Harvey Pass are stunning and expansive as heavy weather approaches. Pass elevation is 2,155 m (7,070 ft)

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada There are easily achievable mountain summits on another, longer day to either side of Harvey Pass

 

Following a brief rest break to enjoy the spectacle, to relax and wander about for photos, and to replenish with food and water, the retreat begins by retracing steps back to the trail-head on 10 kilometers (6¼ miles) of downhill trail.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The view from the ridge across the ridge pond back to the bowl

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada 

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Wildflowers unique to higher elevations adorn the edges of pathways

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The left facing side of the bowl on return is heavily snow-covered with a brilliant blue pond near the bottom

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A closer look at the brilliant blue melt pond at the bottom of the slope as a marmot scurries away

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Harvey Lake and several small lakes reside below within a maze of interconnecting streams

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A view of the notch from directly above the shallow lake - spectacular!

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A hoary marmot, still in its winter coat.

 

The hike down the steep slope requires cautious steps over scree, and occasionally snow, but views from a completely different perspective are fresh and energizing on the down trek.  The chop on the surface of the water of the shallow lake at the notch, confirms the breeze generated by incoming heavy weather.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada The flower lined shore of the shallow lake just prior to passing back through the notch

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Descending the scree and snow slopes and looking down on Bourgeau Lake

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Rushing water echoes from tributaries feeding Bourgeau Lake.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Approaching Bourgeau Lake on the descent

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Views from the wetlands after passing Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Hopping over the rock supports in Wolverine River in lieu of the bridge which has been washed away

 

The hike down through forest offers one view of the Bow River at the bottom of Bow Valley near the trail-head at the TransCanada Highway.

 

Harvey Pass via Bourgeau Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada A view towards our destination at the Bow River beside the trail-head on the TransCanada Highway.

 

At the parking area, heavy rain begins.  The drive east proceeds through Banff National Park and past Canmore to Calgary under relatively clear skies until passing Calaway Park where extremely dark cloud over Calgary generates a rainbow on the approach to the city. 

As the drive into the intense storm continues, the rainbow takes on an unusually dramatic brilliance and at the Calgary city limits the car seems to be chasing the rainbow which appears to passing over rooftops on either side until we seem to pass under it. 

In the rear view mirror a funnel cloud is forming up in the storm behind and around us.  Gear is transferred in heavy rain and a hail storm.  Only in Calgary in mid-July. 

One day, all seasons, on an overall exceptionally good day.

 

If you've conceived of a plan and you're totally committed to it, the success of the concept as a whole is actually bigger than your reaching the summit.

C. Bonington 

           

From:  Summit Stones and Adventure Musings ... By DSD

 

 

 

 

Categories: 

Tags: 

Comments

It is a wonderful hike. Incredible views. The piece from Bourgeau Lake to Harvey Pass is a bit of a slug but worth the effort. If you make an early start, there are a couple of easily achieveable summits with range of Harvey Pass. I would guess the views to be phenomenal. The good news is, the return trip is all downhill. There is virtually none of the dreaded 'undulation'. We are hoping summer will arrive near September. Good luck on your move. You will be welcome in Calgary. It is a big adjustment but worth the effort. Bring plenty of Vaseline Intensive Care. Just kidding. You can buy it here ;-) Thank you for your comment, Leigh.

Looks like a gorgeous hike. I hope it can wait until September. I move in three weeks.

Add new comment