Mistaya Canyon Hiking Trail
0.5km one way, elevation loss 35m
Mistaya Canyon trailhead is located 5.5km south of The Saskatchewan Crossing Resort (see map below for driving direction). This short walk descends an abandoned roadbed to a bridge spanning Mistaya Canyon. From the bridge, you can look into a deep, narrow gorge eroded through limestone bedrock by the rushing waters of the Mistaya River and observe how powerful, swirling currents have smoothed the canyon walls and eroded round pothole depressions.
The Mistaya River rises in Peyto Lake. It leaves the flat-bottomed valley here and plunges into this narrow canyon. Potholes in the rock, formed by swirling water and rock debris, indicate previous water levels. The rumbling water below is still at work, cutting, abrading, and dissolving the limestone rock. The Mistaya joins the North Saskatchewan River 2.5 miles downstream.
5.2km one way, elevation gain 590m
Just 200m beyond Mistaya Canyon bridge, a trail branches left (uphill) into the forest. After a steady, switchbacking climb, it reaches the old Sarbach Lookout site in a small, clearing. Views are limited by trees, but a faint 200m long trail to the left (south) of the lookout will give hikers a great view across the Mistaya valley to Mount Murchison.
Read Icefields Parkway Tour Guide for other nearby attractions.
4.5km one way, elevation loss 85m
At Sarbach Lookout junction, a trail branches right and descends through forest to open flats at the confluence of the Howse and North Saskatchewan Rivers. These flats are near the spot where David Thompson camped in 1807 and are a fine destination for valley views and spring wild flowers.
The trail continues upstream beside the Howse River for nearly 2km before entering forest, where the track becomes rougher and less distinct. The remainder of the route to Howse Pass is not maintained and extremely difficult due to deadfall and frequently flooded river channels. This section of the valley should only be attempted by experienced backpackers who are skilled route-finders.
Howse Pass National Historic Site
For at least 500 generations, Aboriginal peoples used Howse Pass to travel across the Rockies. In 1807, David Thompson followed in their footsteps when he crossed the range to establish Kootenae House, the first trading post on the Columbia River. For the next four years, the pass served as a portal to a succession of new North West Company posts.
The pass was named after Joseph Howse who followed this route in 1810 to establish a competing Hudson’s Bay Company Post. Howse Pass National Historic Site lies 27km to the south of Mistaya Canyon and is one of the lowest points on the Continental Divide. There is no maintained trail through Banff National Park to the pass. Most hikers and horse riders reach the site via a 13km trail from British Columbia.
To learn more about Howse Pass and enjoy expansive views, visit exhibits at nearby Saskatchewan Crossing Viewpoint.
Mistaya Canyon Trail Map & Location
Click the External Link below for trailhead.