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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-02-2012, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: edmonton, alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Cycling, Kayaking, Camping, Fishing,just stick me outdoors.
Posts: 37
Default Cataract Pass

I'm planning a trip from Nigel creek to Pinto lake via Cataract pass (just me and the dog) in mid august and would appreciate any info on the route. Any body got a gps track I can steal?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-03-2012, 12:35 PM
High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Posts: 1,610

I've never done it, but just looking at google maps, it looks relatively straight forward. Part of the Nigel Creek trail is on:

I would suggest trying Southern Alberta Trail Maps for the GPS track. Though I'm not sure if that site is still around.

I'm sure if you put a good amount of time searching on Google, you'd find all the info you need. Some guide books have previews via Google Books, so I would suggest searching "Cataract Pass" in
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-03-2012, 01:39 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Posts: 420

See my trip report, slideshow and route map from last summer.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-03-2012, 02:52 PM
Summit Master
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Finally stopping that crazy suffering that is ice, climbing to concentrate on great ski tours!, .
Interest: Anything that can drag me to the mountains. Backpacking is #1, followed by climbing, dayhiking and camping with family.
Posts: 3,782

I've gone the other way a few times, and recommend you stay on the East side of the creek.

Camp at the base of Cataract Pass, on the south side of the pass. There is a nice meadow and the start of the creek there. Be bear aware! We saw a TON of sign, and one Griz in the distance near the pass, so we got lucky in that we had no curious visitors. The corridor from Sunset Pass up the creek can be heavy with bear activity. Many people have encountered bears right on Sunset Pass. Careful with your dog.

This is a big snow year in that area, and the later in the summer the better so you can easily ford Huntington Creek. A number of years ago we were doing the route from Saskatchewan River Crossing to Jasper and the creek was far too high to ford, so we had a major detour that involved walking beside the highway up The Big Bend. Yuck.

Pinto Lake is nothing to get excited about. It's a horrible area for Mosquitoes. Sunset Pass is nice if you're exiting that way. The trails into the Cline River area can take you far, but most are in heavy timber.

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-03-2012, 03:32 PM
Scaling New Heights
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: , , .
Posts: 97

Cataract Pass is amazing - though its a pretty long valley walk down Cataract Creek to Pinto, and as noted, its grizzly heaven - the most grizzly diggings I have seen anywhere in Alberta. Out via Sunset Pass is nice, but the best exit from Pinto would be to run the 3 nameless passes south of Pinto above Michelle Lakes and come out on Highway 11 by Owen Creek - described in Dustin Lynx' Great Divide Trail book.

Alternatively from Cataract pass you could go over Cline Pass and re-enter the park at the Brazeau River and do a triangle avoiding a car shuttle (and the long hike down the Cataract river valley).

Have fun!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: edmonton, alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Cycling, Kayaking, Camping, Fishing,just stick me outdoors.
Posts: 37

I've done sunset to pinto lake, my first solo and the first time I saw a grizz back packing, and day hiked nigel pass across brazeau creek to get a peek at the brazeau valley. Had the dog with me, she spotted the grizz before I did and hid behind me the whole time. It's the reason I want do to cataract pass, I'm counting on seeing a grizz or two. Caribou, I think I'll take your advice and head over the cline pass and down to four point for a day or two after I spend a day or so in the pass. Thanks every one for your input.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-01-2021, 08:21 AM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 105
Default questions about cataract pass - pinto lake area

I've read most of the posts about this area on here (e.g. this) and want to spend about 4-5 days in the area if I can make it to the Rockies later this summer (barring covid and other obligations...). I have a few specific questions that I hope someone with knowledge of the area can help me with.

1) Is 5 days too long for hiking Owen Creek - Michele Lakes - Pinto Lake - Cataract Creek - Cataract Pass - Nigel Pass trailhead (reasonably fit and experienced hiker, can do about 25km on maintained trails, less experienced off them)? If so, how long might that actually take and what are the most worthwhile day hikes/side trips from that route that I could do in the remaining time? (I guess Cline Pass, but what else if I have time for even more?)

2) Why does it seem everyone does this route in the direction I listed and not from Nigel Pass trailhead to Owen creek? Would it be too difficult/less worthwhile to do it in the other direction?

3) Is the long section in Cataract creek valley between Pinto lake and cataract pass a slog? Is there an alternate high route / something with more views ?

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