Glacier National Park

Balu Pass Trail

Length - 6.4 km (one way)
Hiking time - 2 hours (uphill)
Elevation range - 1318 to 2097 m
Trailhead - Rogers Pass Discovery Centre (westbound side of Hwy 1; left-turn lane for eastbound traffic)
Map coordinates - 117°31'18"W 51°18'6"N (trailhead)

Balu Pass
Balu Pass / © Parks Canada

Please Note: Seasonal bridges will be removed for the winter beginning late September. Creek crossings may be necessary after this time.

It's hard to forget that you're in bear country on this hike. The name is derived from the Indian word "baloo", meaning bear. The mountains flanking one wall of the valley are called Grizzly Mountain, Ursus Major (Ursus is Latin for bear) and Ursus Minor. The trail itself traverses wall-to-wall avalanche slopes and ends in alpine meadows - all excellent bear habitat. Stay alert!

The Balu Pass trail starts as a forest walk through a stand of mountain hemlock and occasional huge Englemann spruce. Connaught Creek flows gently by the side of the trail and is an excellent place to see dippers - adventurous dark little birds that hunt for aquatic invertebrates in mountain streams.

After about a half-hour you leave the timber behind. The trail constantly crosses the lower portions of avalanche paths up to the end of the valley.

The steepest part of the walk is at the end – a short uphill hike to Balu Pass summit. Wild flowers in August and the view of the glaciers, icefields and mountain peaks repay the effort.

The trail ends at the summit of the pass. On the other side is the Cougar Brook valley and Nakimu Caves. This area is designated as park zone 1: special protection. Access beyond this point is strictly regulated to protect the caves and the grizzly bears that make intensive use of the valley. You may not proceed beyond this point unless you are part of a group with the special permit required to enter the valley and the caves. See this important bulletin for more information about the closure.

*Please Note: Dogs are not permitted on this trail, or any part of the Connaught Creek drainage.

Trail Conditions Report

Download the Hiking in Glacier National Park brochure (PDF, 4 MB)

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