The Cory – Edith Pass loop has a little bit of rave surrounding it online, as being possibly the best in the Banff National Park. There are also notes about it being strenuous, and easy to lose the trail at one point.
It’s definitely a little strenuous. But it’s a hike up a mountain, so you tend to get that. Nothing out of the ordinary though, and certainly not as bad as the spirit-crushing sort of sidewards scree walk of Grotto Mountain or the Tower of Babel. So the uphill wasn’t so bad, but the mosquitos were enough to drive a person crazy.
The traffic noise lasted for a while, but as we climbed above the highway the sound faded. A short scramble over a rock band provided interest, but it wasn’t so scrambley that it was an issue to do it with a toddler on my back (although the accompanying agoraphobics weren’t so keen on it).
And then came the sidling around the slopes of Mount Edith – again, something that was not loved by those who don’t love exposure, but not difficult. And then, Cory Pass. Many rocks, and a ground squirrel, views of the Banff section of the Bow Valley, and more mosquitos. And a view of both Edith and Cory, and the tantalising scrambles to their summits
A brief lunch and we descended into the scree on the far side, dropping down towards Mount Louis – a fantastic view, as you walk around between Mount Louis and Mount Edith, and gradually views down towards Mystic Pass and the Sawback Range open up, and Brewster Mountain appears. The trail-finding difficulties mentioned in some route descriptions would only be genuinely difficult if you were in a white-out, or were particularly bad at trail finding (as were two guys we walked past, who got turned around, failed to find Cory Pass altogether, and then ended up lost in the bush, calling for help to get back to the main trail).
As you round Mount Edith, you enter a damp sort of forest. No more scree, instead a dirt path, and more mosquitos. Occasional views, thanks to avalanche paths, but then simple forest drudgery past trickling streams and through swarms of mosquitos. Perhaps a nice hike, if it weren’t for the bugs, but the constant biting and itching and slapping and flapping didn’t really add to the enjoyment. The few wild strawberries did wonders to improve the mood, although then of course, the Moosling kept trying to find more wild strawberries, and was inclined to try and eat anything he found by the side of the trail, just in case.
The Moosling obviously hasn’t heard of hiking at a toddler pace. He’s gotten the hang of hiking trails, and as soon as you get him on one, he just wants to run along it, as fast as possible. He only requires a little assistance to get down the hills. Or up the hills. “Uh oh”, he says, and holds his hands in the air. That’s our cue to come along, offer a hand, and help him past the spot. On prolonged downhills he’ll happily run along for as long as I’m willing to run with him, bent over and holding his hands.
Anyway, all in all, it’s not a bad hike. Some nice views, close to town, interesting terrain, and a nice stream by the trail-head at the end. The whole thing would be more exciting with a side-trip up one of the peaks, or more enjoyable with the subtraction of the mosquitos from the equation. But alas, mosquitos have to eat too, and we’re tasty and convenient food apparently.
Distance: 13km loop
Maximum elevation: 2350m
Elevation gain: 920m
Trailhead: Fireside Picnic Area, just by the Banff end of the 1A
Toddlerability: No Chariot, but fine with an Ergo/backpack