Cory Pass is a classic hike through incredible terrain in Banff National Park, Alberta.
The Cory Pass - Edith Pass hike begins at the parking area for the Edith Pass trail-head, just off the TransCanada Highway, in Banff National Park, 5+ km (3+ miles) west of the Town of Banff near the beginning of the Bow Valley Highway (Hwy 1A).
The adventure begins at 1,435 m (4,707 ft) of elevation followed by net elevation gain of 915 m (3,100 ft) to a maximum of 2,350 m (7,700 ft) on a loop which passes through spectacular Gargoyle Valley beyond Cory Pass.
Breathtaking views are achieved on a 15 KM (9⅜ mile) loop with an initial gut crunching gain of nearly a vertical mile of gross elevation in less than 6 km (3¾ miles). Not for the timid hiker.
The total loop distance is nearly 15 km (9⅜ miles). Wild flowers are abundant as the hike ascends through grasslands into the amazing view of surrounding mountains on the view back across Vermilion Lakes.
Following a short, relatively flat ½ km from the Edith Pass trail head, a left turn leads onto the steep Cory Pass trail. The cool morning is a blessing as the ascent continues aggressively on good trail. As elevation is gained, cloud cover drops and a drizzle begins with alternating short sessions of light rain.
The objective is soon visible in the far distance. A quick lunch is enjoyed under the shelter of tree branches. At Cory Pass the pinnacles of Gargoyle Valley are wavering between the magical balance of fully lighted and totally obliterated.
The eerily mystical shapes capture the imagination. Gargoyle Valley at Corey Pass is a photographic heaven where photography is fully engaged in the process of continuing down the other side on merciful descent through the magical rock formations of the cloud-enshrouded Gargoyle Valley.
The endless supply of incredible, changing images is difficult to leave .
Shifting cloud in the valley creates a panorama of dynamic slow motion until descent below the clouds passes the cloudy, sheer, slab, limestone face of Mount Louis ('Dogtooth' Mountain).
Good trail into Edith Pass continues through lush valley between Mount Norquay and Mount Cory. The valley is quiet, ethereal and humbled by surrounding, tall mountains.
The sound of multiple, crystal-clear streams are punctuated with fields of moss, dense forest and delicate wild flowers ensconced by damp forest aroma.
This very physical day has been a great joy with memories of spectacular vistas and valuable time spent with good friends.
Some might describe the weather as less than optimal but, the experience of an incredibly scenic place was transformed to mystically magic because of the compromised weather conditions.
For most, this hike is not a season opener but should not be overlooked. Cory Pass is one of the best hikes in the Town of Banff area.