Sunshine to Assiniboine

World → North AmericaRockiesSunshine to Assiniboine

Click PLAY or watch a 1-minute introduction on YouTube.

One of the best hikes in the world is the

Sunshine to Mt Assiniboine

Our favourite hike in the Canadian Rockies.

The red dot is BANFF National Park.



  • one of our top 10 hikes in the world
  • recommended route 6 days, 5 nights. Shorter options are possible and popular.
  • 56km (34.8mi) plus side trip day hikes
  • July to mid-September
  • moderate difficulty

Why We Like This Hike

Isn’t it obvious?  🙂

Assiniboine is often compared with the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

We’d say this is the prettiest peak in the Rockies, Canada’s Matterhorn is3618m (11,870ft). 

    • Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park accessed only on foot or by helicopter.  The chopper flies to Canmore (more expensive) or Mt. Shark trailhead (less expensive)
    • good chance to see mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer, pikas, chipmunks & hoary marmots
    • you will see hordes of Columbian and mantled ground squirrels.
    • leashed pets are allowed, but discouraged
    • huge, heavenly alpine meadows
    • Assiniboine Lodge is a treat. The pub is open to all.
    • colourful wild flowers
    • walk the continental divide
    • Magog Lake (40 sites) is the most popular base campground for good reason. Easy access to many day hikes. But there is no longer any overflow area). Mule deer sometimes wander between the tents.
    • Wonder Pass to Marvel Lake is wondrous and marvellous
To Wonder Pass

Extend this hike with awesome sidetrips and scrambles:

  • Sunburst Valley / Nub loop sidetrip 6.7km (4.2mi) one way
  • Og Pass/ Windy Ridge sidetrip 8.7km (5.4mi) one way
  • Wonder Peak scramble
  • the scary scramble from Magog up to Hind Hut,  bivouac for mountaineers climbing Assiniboine

Hind Hut

Mountaineers stay in Hind Hut to climb Assiniboine 3618m (11,871ft). 


  • this is a very popular hike
  • budget for a series of fees — hiking is not cheap in Canadian National Parks
  • if you want to camp overnight in Banff National Park, you need a Wilderness Pass
  • biting insects can be a nuisance at times
  • pit toilets at every campsite
  • trails sometimes closed due to bear
  • bears are a concern
  • the weather is highly variable. It can snow any day of the year. Or it can be 30°C (86°F).
  • drinking water is provided at Lake Magog Campground and at Naiset Cabins, but it must still be treated.
  • Sunshine Meadows is often crowded

Click PLAY or see Sunshine Meadows on YouTube.


For ADMISSION to Canadian National Parks we most often buy a Discovery Pass (CAD $139.40 – 12 months for up to 7 people in vehicle)

  • Assiniboine Lodge, erected 1928, the first ski lodge in the Canadian Rockies, offers hotel services and a gourmet restaurant in one of the most gorgeous locations anywhere.

The Lodge is expensive. We’ve only rarely stayed there. But right next door are the 5 inexpensive Naiset Huts  built by Alpine Club of Canada founder A.O. Wheeler in 1925. Those can be reserved at (403) 678-2883 or fax (403) 678-4877, not online.  Bookings are not easy to get.

A recommended heli-hike option shortens the trip.  And lightens your wallet.

Helicopter one way Assiniboine Lodge to Mt Shark was CAD$175 per person + 5% tax (one way) = $183.75 in 2017.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

We’ve also shipped our backpacks / trash out by helicopter on the last day. $3 per pound per flight (includes tax) in 2017. That process was very disorganized. Bring your gear to the lodge early.

Walking your gear out is free.

Tenting is the least expensive option.

  1. Tenting in Banff National Park 
  2. Tenting in Assiniboine Provincial Park 

For TENTING in the National Parks backcountry you also need a Wilderness Pass.

In 2020 the Wilderness pass to tent cost CAD $10.02 / person / night. To make a reservation is CAD $11.96 for up to 10 people, 5 tents. (If you telephone to reserve it costs CAD $13.50)

If you plan to tent 7 nights or more in National Parks during one season, ask about the Annual Wilderness Pass.

For TENTING in Assiniboine Provincial Park reservations can be made up to 2 months in advance through the Discover Camping Reservation Service.

Cost is reasonable but varies depending on campsite and number of people.  There’s also a reservation fee.  Try for Magog first.  Og lake second if Magog not available for the dates you want.

YES. It’s way too complicated. Parks Canada will explain it, however, when you make a reservation. Don’t panic at the complexity.

Purchase permit online or call  1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783).

Phone if the online process is too confusing.


Assiniboine Lodge recommends these options:

  2. Helicopter

If you have the time, Sunshine to Assiniboine is the best hike.  Exit by helicopter — or you could walk back out to Sunshine — or walk out to the Mt. Shark trailhead.

route We recommend this route as the best hike.

Sunshine to Mt Shark
… Mt. Assiniboine can … be reached from the Sunshine Village ski area via the rambling alpine meadows of Citadel Pass.

Either walk up the Sunshine Village limited access ski area maintenance road or ride the privately run shuttle up the 6.5 km to the base village. The trip exits via Bryant Creek at the Mt. Shark trailhead in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Seasonal trail restrictions on Allenby Pass and Assiniboine Pass during buffalo berry season. …

Parks Canada – Sunshine – Assiniboine – Bryant Creek (55.7km)

It is a bit complicated because you could be dealing with 3 different management organizations:

  • Banff National Park
  • BC Provincial Parks
  • Mt. Assiniboine Lodge

Each has different sets of regulations.

Book campsites as early as possible. (Most difficult campground to book is likely Howard Douglas.)

There are plenty of campgrounds to choose from in Assiniboine including Lake Magog and Og Lake in the core area of the Park, Porcupine Camp near Citadel Pass, Mitchell Meadows and Rock Lake near Ferro Pass, and Scoup Camp located along the Simpson River at its confluence with the North Simpson River.  MAP (PDF)

Trekking Guides


It’s easy to get to our recommended start at Sunshine Meadows. You can hike up, ride a bus or take a gondola. The big problem on this adventure is how to get out.

If transportation is a problem, backtrack to to Sunshine and ride the bus back to Banff. Otherwise you’ll need to arrange transport from Mt Shark … or fly to Canmore by helicopter.

  • buy fuel & rent gear, if needed, at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Calgary. MEC is our favourite gear store in the world.
  • you can hike either direction. We’ve done both. It’s easy to get into and out of Sunshine Meadows. It’s not easy to get to the Mt. Shark trailhead without your own vehicle.

Click PLAY or see Sunshine Meadows on YouTube.

Local Information

Our best source of information for decades has been Banff National Park rangers.

Assiniboine Lodge offers a pub Happy Hour for campers

Best Trekking Guidebooks

There are many good hiking guidebooks. But we love Graeme Pole’s innovative binder editions where we can remove just the relevant pages for our hike, carrying them in a protective plastic slipcover. Brilliant!

Be SURE to get the most recent edition of guidebooks.

Windy Ridge

Best Travel Guidebooks

Compare the rest against Lonely Planet and Moon. Be sure to get the most recent edition.

You can probably use any guidebook to travel the Canadian Rockies. The tourist infrastructure is excellent.

hiking in via Wonder Pass

Other Recommended Books

Gadd is our bible in the Rockies: flowers, plants, animals, birds, fish, geology, history and much more.

Best Maps

You’re not like to get lost. It’s wide open up there. Any guidebook will be sufficient for navigation.

photo Warren Long
photo Warren Long

Best Web Pages

Proof the Rockies were once under the sea. horn coral, easily found between the lodge and Wonder Pass.
Proof the Rockies were once under the sea. horn coral, easily found between the lodge and Wonder Pass.

Best Trip Reports


Click PLAY or watch Yeti Adventure Films on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch World Wild Hearts on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Outdoor Gypsy on YouTube. (2019)

Click PLAY or Jeromet Ryan’s 2012 hike on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch our 2020 Nub Peak climb on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch our 2017 Nub Peak on YouTube.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a REPLY on this page. Our editors will reply.

29 Replies to “Sunshine to Assiniboine”

  1. Hi my partner and I are coming to Canada in June this year for 4wks and we’re overwhelmed by the choice of walks… We are moderate to experienced walkers… Usually do 4-6day walks with 16-18kilo packs… Fairly fit and in our 40s… Do you have any advice about which walks to do? We’re looking at the sunshine to Assiniboine and the west coast trail… We’re not keen on self navigation(ie compass/GPS type style)… would really appreciate your help… Thanks claire

    1. Start with trying to get a booking on the West Coast Trail.

      IF that works, plan your trip around those dates.

      Next organize the Canadian Rockies, about 12 hour drive away by car.

      Best is Sunshine / Assiniboine, but there are many, many good alternatives close by.

      Next, look to add Waterton National Park in Alberta. The snow will be gone sooner there. It’s about 4 hours drive from Banff down to Waterton, Alberta.

      Have FUN>

  2. thanks so much for responding rick… we really appreciate it! we had actually narrowed it down to west coast trail and the sunshine walk… we were a little nervous because when you read about the west coast trail there are a lot of warnings and they make it sound quite dangerous and intrepid… what are your thoughts? how intrepid is it? we are reasonably fit and adventurous but we want to be sensible being 2 ladies in our 40s!

      1. Hey rick just getting ready to put in our registration for the wct… Trying to work it all out… Do you have a recommendation for where to start? We’re planning on doing the full trail… Thanks Claire

  3. Hi,
    A friend and I are planning to spend a full 5days in/around the Banff area. I would love to do a trek from the Sunshine Trailhead to Nublet but I am having a difficult time gauging the difficulty of the trek and how long it would realistically take. We are both in our mid 20’s and quite fit…it will also be early October and I know that weather can be unpredictable and quite cold…any advice or feedback would be appreciated!

    1. Anybody Well prepare can do it, I had no experience in backcountry camping, did the right preparation and did it along with my wife and 6 years old daughter. (We fly some food in at Assiniboine to save on weight) the first 2 days were tough because of not beeing in shape, but got over it.
      Best trip in my life!

    2. October seem late in the season but probably doable.
      It took us 5 days/4 nights including staying a extra day at lake Magog (night at porcupine, lake Magog x2, Bryant creek)

  4. Great site thanks so much for all the infos! I’m planning it for next year and I’m wondering if people use a lot bear cannister in the rockies, I’m surpised that MEC in Calgary don’t rent them. Would you recommand to use them or all the camping sites are equiped with bear boxes or hangning rope?

  5. Hi there

    Just wondering…if we park at sunshine lot, we can fly into the lodge nub peak? Then hike back to the car? Trying to figure this out. It appears to be a moderate hike?


  6. Hi,
    Great site and resource, thank you.
    Do you think it’s feasible doing the trail from Sunshine into Assiniboine in early/mid June? We are certainly hikers rather than mountaineers so is the snow level normally high enough by this time and/ or is avalanche risk too high at that time? Is there any lower elevation trails at that time you might recommend otherwise?

  7. Hi, I am contemplating between flying in, and then hiking out via Wonder pass. Or hiking in via Sunshine and the out via wonder pass. Is the Sunshine trail worth the hike? I cannot seem to find the highlights of that specific part of the trip.

  8. Hello!
    My name is Christina, we are looking for someone to swap cars with for our hike from Sunshine to Shark. We are starting on 7/16 and ending on 7/19/2019. If anyone is doing that hike in reverse or wants to talk about how we can make each other’s lives easier by swapping cars for the hike please shoot a reply! Thank you.

  9. You did a great job with this site. It is really coherent. I’ve been researching this hike (from sunshine to Shark) for a while and it can be confusing to figure out details. I wasn’t able to get a spot to camp at Magog or Og the night we need (July 17th). So now I am trying to figure out where else to camp. I already booked Marvel Lake on the 18th so we have to keep to that I think. Do you have any suggestions for places to camp? We want to do this hike in 4 days and 3 nights. We planned to camp at porcupine the first night, but the only night that is set in stone is the 18th.

    Thank you,


    1. In the past we simply stayed in the overflow camping. It was just as good as the booked campsites. … But I’ve just learned there is no longer an overflow area at the Magog or Og Lake Campgrounds!

      That makes it very tough. You may have to choose a different hike for this summer.

  10. Is anyone able to comment to provide their average hiking time in/out of Assiniboine (Sunshine to Magog and back)….it’s been a number of years since I last went. While I know it is a full day, I am trying to recall just how long…

    We will take the gondola back to the vehicle, and that stops running at 6pm. Want to make sure we’re out by then and don’t miss it.

  11. Wow! Thanks for your incredibly detailed description. I wish I would have found this a few months ago when I was trying to plan a hike in to the Howard Douglas campground. I will be keeping this info for next year though. Cheers!

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