The East End of Rundle hike is a popular day hike with Canmore and Banff locals. EEOR (pronounced “Eeyore”) is a short, but very steep slog up the eastern ridge of Mount Rundle, a huge mountain separating the 12km between the Town of Banff and Canmore.
Mt. Rundle is one of the most recognizable mountains in Banff. The beautiful view of Mount Rundle from the Vermillion Lakes is widely seen in Banff promotional material.
Its long been one of my favorite mountains in Banff (as a kid I wanted to slide down the back), so I was excited to get a chance to hike to one of its many summits. (The actual summit of Mount Rundle is closer to the Town of Banff and is yet another 400m higher).
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East End of Rundle Hike Highlights
EEOR is a spectacular and very rewarding hike just outside of Canmore. It’s difficult and not for everyone, but if it’s within your physical capabilities, chances are good that you’ll love it. EEOR is one of the best hikes in Canmore.
The beginning of the East End of Rundle hike is through a dense forest with a carpet of green moss. It doesn’t take long to gain enough elevation to enjoy views of Whiteman’s Pond, resting below the very impressive cliff face of Ha Ling Peak.
After 1km, you’ll be able to look back and enjoy south-facing views of the Spray Valley Provincial Park. At this stage, you’ll also start enjoying jaw-dropping glimpses of Ha Ling Peak, one of the most dramatic mountains in the area.
The higher you go, the better the views get. You’ll enjoy views of the Goat Creek Valley, the Town of Canmore, and the Spray Lakes in the distance.
I lost track of the number of times the word, “Wow!” involuntarily came out of our mouths – the views are just that good.
EEOR Hike Stats
Distance: The round-trip distance of the East End of Rundle hiking trail is 5.6km (one-way distance of 2.8km).
Elevation Gain: The elevation gain you’ll encounter along the EEOR hike is 877m (for an average of 313m elevation gain per 1km).
Difficulty: The very first step of the East End of Rundle hike is uphill and it stays that way right to the top. It’s a short, but very steep hike with difficult terrain to navigate. While hiking the unmaintained EEOR trail you’ll encounter tree roots, uneven rocks and some challenging (sometimes dangerous) rock scrambles. You’ll never really do any rock climbing though.
We rate the East End of Rundle hike as “difficult”.
Duration: It should take a typical adult about 3.5 hours to hike the full round-trip distance of the East End of Rundle hike.
East End of Rundle Trail Location
How to Get from Banff to the East End of Rundle Trail: Despite its local popularity, the EEOR trailhead is an unmarked trail from the side of the Smith-Dorien Trail Highway in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park part of Kananaskis Country.
It’s common for people to park along the highway near the EEOR trailhead, but the nearest official parking lot is the Goat Creek parking lot – a 2 minute walk away.
The fastest way to get to the Goat Creek parking lot from Banff is to turn off the TransCanada Highway in Canmore and take the Smith-Dorrien Trail Highway (AB742). This very scenic drive should take you approximately 35 minutes. (It’s a 17 minute drive from downtown Canmore)
Along the way you’ll pass Grassi Lakes, a very popular, easy family hike to a pair of mountain lakes with an incredible blue-green color. It’s worth a quick visit if the sun is shining.
Also watch for the Canmore Nordic Centre (home of the Nordic events for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics). As you climb the steep, winding road past the Nordic Centre, watch for groups of Bighorn Sheep which love to cling to the rocky slopes next to the highway. If you are interested in seeing wildlife, get Banff wildlife sighting tips from a local wildlife photographer.
The Goat Creek parking lot is home to several other popular Kananaskis Recreation options:
- The Ha Ling Trail is another of the best hikes in Canmore. It’s a challenging summit hike, beginning right across the highway from EEOR. Ha Ling has been recently upgraded and the trail is in excellent condition and easy to follow. It’s a very popular hike, so if you are concerned about the challenging conditions on EEOR, Ha Ling might be a suitable alternative for you.
- If you’d like to avoid the crowds atop Ha Ling, try Miners Peak instead. It’s great!
- The Goat Creek trail is a popular mountain biking trail which runs along the valley bottom south of Mt. Rundle. The Goat Creek trail runs all the way from Canmore to the historic Banff Springs Hotel.
EEOR – Canmore & Kananaskis Hiking Maps
The East End of Rundle is one of those challenging, and somewhat maddening hikes where there is a seemingly endless choice of unmarked trails up-and-down the mountain. Sometimes the right path to take is labelled with a painted blue square, and sometimes the wrong trail has a fallen tree placed over it, but these are exceptions, not the rule.
We used the AllTrails app while hiking to the top of EEOR and to be honest, I couldn’t imagine doing this hike without it. Even with the app, we found ourselves well off the trail several times and the ability to see our current GPS location relative to the trail helped us navigate our way back.
We use AllTrails for all our hiking and biking in the Canadian Rockies and around the world. In addition to helping stay on the trails, we like the ability to track your stats (distance, elevation gain, etc.). To find the EEOR map, simply search for “East End of Rundle (EEOR)”. You should get a cell signal from nearby Canmore, but just to be safe, be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving.
(We’re not being compensated by AllTrails for this endorsement – we’re just big fans of the app).
A paper map is not sufficient for EEOR, but if you prefer to hike with a paper map and compass as an additional safety layer, I highly recommend Gem Trek hiking maps. They are the gold standard for Banff and Kananaskis hiking maps and we own the entire set. They are exceptional 3D topographic maps which I love looking at for hiking inspiration.
The East End of Rundle trail map appears in the following maps: “Canmore and Kananaskis Village” and “Banff & Mount Assiniboine”. You can order one of these maps off Amazon.ca before your trip, or you can pick one up while here as they are widely available.
Hiking East End of Rundle with Kids
What kid doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh? Of course they’ll want to go on the Eeyore hike! Unfortunately for your kids, Mt. Rundle is not in the Hundred Acre Woods…
Our kids have grown up in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and at age 4 & 6 are very capable little hikers. They recently hiked Wind Ridge, a very difficult hike near Canmore which, on paper, is a harder hike than EEOR. That said, there is no way I’d bring them on this Mount Rundle hike until they are much older.
Before attempting EEOR with kids, we recommend:
- Looking at the EEOR hike stats above and making sure your kids are capable of such physical exertion. You’ll be gaining over 300m of elevation for every 1km hiked towards the top of Mt. Rundle. This is a steady 30% incline – it’s not easy…
- Even more important than their physical capability, assess your kids listening & obedience levels. There are dangerous rock scrambles on this hike with potentially fatal consequences. Kids who do not listen and cannot follow directions to the letter should not be brought on the EEOR hike.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
There are two spots along the East End of Rundle trail which are great spots to stop for lunch.
After 2km of hiking straight up, you’ll emerge from the trees and enter the alpine zone. Unimpeded by trees, the views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains are incredible, especially of the nearby Ha Ling Peak.
Approximately 0.5km after emerging from the trees, go left at the junction and you’ll hike through a spectacular alpine meadow with thousands of tiny mountain wildflowers.
This is a great spot to stop for a break and soak in the mountain views. We were lucky enough to spot a rare & elusive Mountain Goat!
The other spot we recommend stopping is, of course, the East End of Rundle summit where you will enjoy exceptional views. It can get extraordinarily windy up there, but if you descend a little, you can typically find a rock wall to shelter you from the wind.
The EEOR hike is very close to Canmore, so you could reward yourself after this difficult hike with a drink and a great meal at one of Canmore’s many excellent restaurants.
East End of Rundle Hiking Safety
- Hiking EEOR is a serious endeavor – there are many difficult scrambles which could be a bit difficult and scary for some. Please take this risk seriously as a woman died while hiking EEOR while descending a short scramble section.
- Kananaskis Country is bear country. We love bears and would hate for any harm to come to them or you, so please take the time to educate yourself on How to Be Bear Smart.
- We recommend checking the latest trail report for trail conditions and possible closures before you head out. Unfortunately, there is no official EEOR trail report, so use the Ha Ling trail report and the Goat Creek trail report as proxies for the conditions you may encounter.
- Due to the amount of scrambling involved, we recommend leaving your dog at home.
- When scrambling, keep a safe distance from each other as rocks may come loose and fall on hikers below.
- It’s easy to get off the EEOR trail. If you believe you are off the trail and you aren’t using AllTrails, keep in mind that EEOR is a ridge hike for most of its length, meaning you should be able to see the mountain slope downwards down on both sides of the trail more often than not. If this is not the case, try looking for a trail which takes you back up to the ridge. (But really – you should be using a hiking app like AllTrails for this hike).
For recommendations on what to bring on EEOR to improve your safety, see below.
EEOR Trail Logistics
- There are several washrooms in the Goat Creek parking lot. There are no toilets on the EEOR trail, so make sure everyone goes before they begin.
- There are no drinking water facilities, so fill your hydration packs before you leave.
- With many popular hikes and mountain biking routes, the Goat Creek area is very popular and the parking lot fills up early in the day. To avoid a full parking lot, try to visit early in the day on a weekday if possible.
- Being so close to Canmore, you should have cell service for most of the hike, but never count on it for your safety.
What to Bring While Hiking East End of Rundle
Generally speaking, you don’t need a lot of hiking gear to enjoy hiking in Alberta. Our list of hiking essentials contains the hiking gear and clothing you’ll need for the variable Kananaskis weather and trail conditions.
EEOR isn’t your typical Kananaskis day-hike, so we would like to reinforce the importance of a few items from our hiking essentials list:
- Bear spray is a must. You cannot order bear spray by mail, but you can buy a canister at many locations in Canmore and Banff.
- Water – EEOR is a difficult hike and you’ll sweat a lot. A hydration pack is an effective way to bring enough water for a long hike.
- Bring several layers of clothing with you. To give you a sense for the range of weather you may encounter, all of the pictures on this post were from a single EEOR hike in late June. We wore convertible hiking pants, T-shirts, a fleece top and rain jackets. We were putting on and taking off layers all day.
- Even in summer, it can be cold near the EEOR summit. We passed several large patches of snow near the summit and it actually snowed on us as we arrived at the top. We wish we’d have brought gloves as the wind was very cold at the summit and our hands got quite numb, making the scrambling on the descent more dangerous than it needed to be.
- We don’t hike with trekking poles, but many people recommend them for the EEOR hike due to the steep descent. If you bring them, ensure your day bag has straps which can hold your poles as you tackle the rock scrambles.
- Bring a small first aid kit designed for hiking. With the steep trail and scrambling involved, there’s a good chance someone will slip and fall. I took a nice chunk out of my right hand when the rocks under my feet gave way on the way down.
EEOR Footwear Recommendation
At best, the East End of Rundle hiking trail is unmaintained with lots of tree roots and large rocks protruding from the trail.
At its most challenging, the trail has loose rocks on steep slopes and/or rock scrambles. We recommend a robust pair of hiking boots with good grips.
Banff Hiking Trails we Recommend
- 9 Easy Banff Hikes
- Johnston Canyon Hike
- Tunnel Mountain Hike
- Stewart Canyon Hike
- Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
- Saddleback Pass Trail
- Sheol Valley Hike
- Great Alberta Larch Tree Hikes