Kicking Horse Pass
The climb up to Kicking Horse Pass from the east begins at the border between the two provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.A broad scar down the nearby mountainside marks the track of an avalanche which some years ago thundered down the slope sweeping away an entire forest in its path.Kicking Horse Pass goes over the continental divide and is located within Yoho National Park.The Canadian Pacific Railway line going over the pass used to be known as "The Big Hill" and at one time was the piece main-line railroad in North America. Accidents on the route led to the building of spiral tunnels that lengthened the route but decreased the gradient. There are plaques along the highway discussing the engineering involved in the process of building the railway.The old bridge on the "Big Hill" (the notorious steep section where the height difference is 400 / 1300 ft) was once part of the original CPR track over Kicking Horse Pass.
Spiral Tunnel Viewpoints
An observation tower about 9 km / 5.5 mi west of the 1625 m / 5333 ft summit of Kicking Horse Pass provides a good view of the daringly engineered later section of track with its two spiral tunnels (modeled on the St Gotthard rail tunnels in Switzerland).There is also an Upper Spiral Tunnel viewpoint with excellent views of the railway tunnels.The spiral tunnels were built after fatal accidents occurred on the former rail line which was known at one time have the steepest gradient of any rail line in North America.
Old Bridge (Big Hill)
The old bridge on the "Big Hill" (the notorious steep section where the height difference is 400m / 1300 ft) was once part of the original CPR track over Kicking Horse Pass.Today the bridge is simply a tourist attraction.
A sign about 3 km / 2 mi east of the TransCanada Highway marks the continental watershed (Hudson Bay/Pacific Ocean).This point is more commonly known as the Great Divide. There is camping nearby.