I did this hike on July 23, 2016.
My favorite hike in Banff National Park was Cory Pass Loop. It had two splendid things going for it; it was challenging and a loop. I definitely like hiking loops much more than going up and down on the same trail.
I’d planned on an early start based on the information from the ranger I’d spoken to at the visit center, who recommended I account for 6-7 hours to complete this hike. To help with the early morning start, I had relocated to a different AirBnB, which afforded me a shorter drive to Banff (40 minutes instead of an hour). Unfortunately, the roommates of the owner, who was out town, decided to have a small house party my first night there, and they kept me up past midnight. I actually had to go tell them to quiet down.
This led to me falling asleep and waking-up later than planned and not as refreshed as intended but I still headed out for my hike.
The trail head for Cory Pass Loop is at the Fireside day-use area, off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A). You take Tran Canada Hwy and go past Banff before taking a right unto 1A. Everything is well marked to find the trail head. There’s ample parking and bathroom facilities at Fireside.
After a short walk in the wooded area the trail quickly steepened and became rockier. I actually ended off trail hanging off the face of a mountain and quickly realizing there was no way this was the right way. I turned back around and found the trail.
It eventually evened back out in a semi-forested area before becoming a trail along the mountain side where the view was incredible.
I encountered some mountain goats where I stopped to have some lunch before making my trip back through the Gargoyle Valley.
Just around the bend from where I had my lunch began my descant through loose rocks and gravel. The change in landscape was drastic—very little vegetation, almost complete disappearance of the colors green and brown. The terrain was all rocks, boulders, and various shades of grey. The path eventually merged into a field of large rocks that was tricky to maneuver and absorbed the trail. Once out of the rock field, I was able to get back on the right path and the rest of the hike was in the woods.
The entire hike took me a little under 5 hours.
Length: 13 km loop
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 915 m
Trailhead: Fireside day-use area, off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A