Banff Sawback Traverse

Five day guided and catered backpacking trip 

The Sawback Traverse takes a beautiful route through the Banff area main ranges.  What makes this trip special is the 'off-the-beaten track' feel, and it is not uncommon to see very few other hikers.  The trip begins at Johnson Canyon, and travels over several high alpine passes, and three of the four nights are spent camping at beautiful alpine lakes.  You get to see a little bit of everything on this trip as we traverse through several different alpine zones.

2020 Dates: By request

Price per person: $1200 plus 5% GST


Guiding, group equipment and all food beginning with lunch on the first day and concluding with lunch on the final day.  It also includes the shuttle to and from the trailhead from Canmore, national park and backcountry camping fees.

Trip Difficulty:

This trip is rated as 'challenging' because we will be carrying food for the full five days.  Each person will be carrying a share of the group equipment and food, with pack weights up to 45 lbs (depending on how lightweight you can pack!).  We will ease into the trip by having a short second day while our packs are the heaviest.  However, you will need to be fit enough to carry a backpack for multiple days in hilly terrain.


Accommodation and Meals:

We will be staying in lightweight backpacking tents and in established Banff National Park backcountry campgrounds. Each campsite is equipped with outhouses and food storage facilities.  You are responsible for supplying your own tent, however, we will arrange for a tent rental on your behalf if you require (extra charge will apply).


Meals will be lightweight backpacking food (dried food), although we will have some fresh food earlier in the trip.  Each day will consist of three nutritious (and tasty!) meals and some snacks to keep us fueled throughout the day.




Evening - Meet in Canmore the evening before the trip start date to sign waivers, discuss the logistics and to ensure everybody has appropriate equipment for the trip.


Day 1 - Johnson Canyon trailhead to Luellen Lake

Drive to the trailhead at Johnson Canyon.  Hike through the gorgeous canyon, past the Inkpots and Larry's camp to our campsite at the beautiful Luellen Lake.  

Distance: 18km, Elevation: 650m up, 100m down.


Day 2 - Luellen Lake to Badger Pass

Leave Luellen Lake, retrace our steps for just under a kilometer and continue up the valley through expansive subalpine views to our campsite at Badger Pass campground.  We'll get into camp early today, and have time to relax and take in the views. 

Distance: 7km, Elevation: 150m up.  


Day 3 - Day hike

Today we'll go for a day hike to Badger Pass with light day packs.

Distance: 10km return, 400m elevation gain and loss.


Day 4 - Badger Pass to Baker Lake

We've now got our hiking legs, and with lighter packs we will travel longer distances.  From the Badger Pass campground we will head up to Pulsatilla Pass, for truly breathtaking views in all directions. From there we will drop down pass Pulsatilla Pass and continue down to Wildflower Creek for lunch.  After lunch we will head north to Baker Lake, traveling through alpine meadows along the way.  

Distance: 15km.  Elevation: 650m up, 600m down.


Day 5 - Baker Lake to Skoki trailhead

From Baker Lake we will head up and over Boulder Pass, and past several alpine lakes.  Our trip will conclude at the Fish Creek parking area near Lake Louise.  

Distance: 14km, Elevation: 100m up, 700m down.


Logistics:  We will carpool to the trailhead on Day 1.  Aster Mountain Adventures will arrange for a shuttle vehicle to pick us up on the final day and transport us back to our cars.



Group equipment supplied by Aster Mountain Adventures: all cooking equipment, group tarp in case of rain, first aid and equipment repair kits, and emergency communication devices.


Personal equipment: Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, cup/bowl/utensils, personal clothing and toiletries.

Cost does not include: pre- or post-trip accommodation, breakfast on the first day or gratuities.




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Near Badger Jct - Sawback - Canadian Rockies