Conveniently starting just a few minutes' drive from Banff Avenue, the Cory Pass hike is an athletic endeavour. Some might call it "punishing." The trail ascends 885-m (2903-ft) in just 4.5 km (2.8 mi). But the exhilarating scenery more than compensates for the effort required.
Well before reaching Cory Pass, the airy trail traverses the steep west face of Mount Edith. Lift your eyes from the abyss below your feet, and you'll see Mount Cory looming just across the canyon. Behind you, the Sundance Range fills the southern horizon.
Rock pinnacles give Cory Pass a feral atmosphere. Just beyond the pass, the fang-like 500-m (1640-ft) face of Mt. Louis looms like a monster in a child's nightmare. The first person to climb it was Conrad Kain, sort of the Captain Cook of the Canadian Rockies.
From Cory Pass, keen, strong hikers drop into the aptly named Gargoyle Valley. They round the talusy north side of Mt. Edith, then return via forested Edith Pass. The circuit adds variety and allows a more gradual, comfortable descent.
Though this is strictly a hike, requires no scrambling and poses no dangerous exposure, the terrain is rugged, the trail steep. It's not for the inexperienced or unfit.
Turn around at Cory Pass, and you'll endure a toe-jamming, knee-pounding descent. Proceed into Gargoyle Valley only if you're secure on loose rock and will remain confident where the way forward briefly requires vigilance.
You're a capable hiker? You'll enjoy the challenges of the Cory-Edith circuit because they make it a spicy journey.
What you won't enjoy and should be prepared to endure along the trail's lower reaches is the sound of vehicles on the Trans-Canada. That's the price of convenience.
Want to hike to Cory Pass? You'll find all the details and motivation you need in a guidebook like no other: Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, The Opinionated Hiking Guide. Reading it will ensure you devote your invaluable hiking time to the most spectacular trails in the Canadian Rockies, one of which leads to Cory Pass.
Go to http://www.hikingcamping.com/hike-rockies.php to learn more about Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, The Opinionated Hiking Guide.