Trails and trip ideas
YouTube VIDEO: Good Days and Bad Days: The Backcountry Wardens of Jasper National Park
Backcountry Warden Patti Walker takes us along the beautiful North Boundary trail in Jasper National Park as she and South Boundary Warden Al McKeeman talk about what being a Warden and working in the backcountry means to them.
Backcountry Huts and Lodges
Tonquin Valley Adventures
Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge
Shovel Pass Backcountry Lodge
Alpine Club of Canada
Please note: If you are staying at an Alpine Club of Canada facility you must either acquire a backcountry camping permit from the Alpine Club, or bring along your annual backcountry pass. See the backcountry camping permit section for more information.
Guides and Outfitters
Numerous guiding companies are licensed by Parks Canada to offer transportation and guiding services within Jasper National Park.
For the highest standards of local knowledge and safety, look for guides who are accredited by either or both the following professional organizations:
Climbing, Mountaineering and Glacier Travel
Highly specialized equipment and knowledge are necessary for safe mountaineering and glacier travel. If you plan to take part in climbing or mountaineering activities, we recommend reading our Mountain Safety pages. You can also discuss your plans with one of Jasper’s Public Safety Specialists by calling 780-852-6155. A number of excellent guide-books are available for reference at information centres or for sale through the Friends of Jasper. Mountaineering parties can apply to bivouac in non-vegetated areas. The Alpine Club of Canada of Canada operates four mountaineering huts in Jasper National Park.
Mountain biking is permitted on trails designated for bicycle use. Check the backcountry map for trails designated for long-day or overnight biking trips. Check the mountain biking guide for shorter day-rides. Be sure to bone up on your biking etiquette.
Trip ideas and itineraries
Two Day Trips
SATURDAY NIGHT LAKE LOOP - 24 km
This well-marked trail, beginning and ending in the Jasper townsite, is on a plateau all below timberline, making it a good selection for the novice or early season hiker. Elevation gain/loss 786 m. Maximum elevation 1640 m.
Trailheads: Activity Centre parking lot and the junction of Bonhomme and Patricia streets
Maps: NTS Jasper 83D/16, Gemtrek Best of Jasper, National Geographic Jasper South.
JACQUES LAKE - 12 km one way
This unique trail travels through a narrow mountain valley, skirts four lakes and crosses a watershed- all in less than 13km and with little change in elevation. A good choice for novice hikers. Elevation gain 90 m. Maximum elevation 1540 m.
Trailhead: south end of Medicine Lake, 28 km from Jasper townsite
Maps: NTS Medicine Lake 83C/13, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
BIG BEND – 7.8 km one-way
Hike or ride along this old fire road to enjoy the spectacular views of the upper Athabasca Valley. Make a day of it, or stay overnight at Big Bend or Athabasca Crossing campgrounds. Elevation loss 37m. Maximum elevation 1400m.
Notes: Due to the relatively easy access,
Trailhead: Sunwapta junction, 54.5 km south of Jasper townsite
Maps: NTS Athabasca Falls 83C/12, Fortress Lake 83C/5. Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
Three Day Trips
MALIGNE LAKE CANOEING - 22 km
Maligne Lake is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, this lake is famed for its surrounding peaks, glaciers and Spirit Island - one of the most photographed locations in the country. Maligne Lake is a unique backcountry experience in Jasper National Park. Canoes,kayaks and electric motors are allowed.
Notes: Due to the relatively easy access, campgrounds fill up very quickly. Advance Reservations are necessary. Group size maximum is 10 people using up to 4 tents. One tent per tent pad.
Trailheads: Maligne Lake (50 km from Jasper townsite).
Maps: NTS Southesk 83C/11, Athabasca Falls 83C/12, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
SKYLINE – 44 km
Caribou range –dogs not allowed.
An exceptionally beautiful trail, most of it above treeline. High elevation allows for expansive views that extend over much of the park, encompassing vast meadows, windswept ridges and the chance to spot wildlife in the distance. Elevation gain from Maligne Lake 1410 m and loss 1928m. Maximum elevation 2510 m
Notes: No fires. Snow may remain in higher areas until mid-July.
Trailheads: Maligne Lake (50 km from Jasper townsite) and just before Maligne Canyon (about 8 km from Jasper on the Maligne Road). Recommended direction is from Maligne Lake to Maligne Canyon.
Maps: NTS Medicine Lake 83C/13, Athabasca Falls 83C/12, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
TONQUIN VALLEY LOOP - 43 km
Caribou range –dogs not allowed.
The Tonquin Valley's scenery is unrivalled. This is one of Canada's premiere alpine regions, a unique combination of barren peaks, ghostly ice and fertile lakes. There are several excellent day hikes in the area. Elevation gain from Astoria trail 1053m and loss 1293m. Maximum elevation 2210 m.
Notes: No fires. Regular horse use during July and August and rain can make trails muddy and challenging for hikers.
Trailheads: km 12.7 on the Cavell Rd (Astoria trail) and at km 6.3 on the Marmot Basin Rd (Portal Creek trail).
Maps: NTS Amethyst Lakes 83D/9, Jasper 83D/16, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
FRYATT VALLEY - 22 km one way
The Fryatt Valley Trail is long, and the final climb up the Headwall to the upper valley is one you won't soon forget. But this tiny hanging valley tucked into one of Jasper's great mountain ranges is a jewel that rewards all your efforts. Elevation gain 690 m. Maximum elevation 2040 m.
Notes: Biking allowed to lower Fryatt campsite. Alpine Club hut must be booked in advance.
Trailhead: km 2.0 of Geraldine fire road, off Hwy 93A just north of Athabasca Falls.
Maps: NTS Athabasca Falls 83C/12 Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
Four Day Trips
BRAZEAU LOOP– 80 km
Caribou range –dogs not allowed.
The "grand tour" of the southern ranges, this circuit includes one of the park's largest backcountry lakes and an extraordinary alpine traverse with glaciated peaks, lush wildflowers and a variety of wildlife. The trail passes through extensive alpine meadows and three passes. Elevation gain/loss-clockwise loop, 1912 m. Maximum elevation 2475 m.
Notes:. Snow levels may hinder travel until mid-July. No fires at Jonas Cutoff Campground. Horses are not allowed in Jonas Pass.
Trailhead: 112 km south of Jasper townsite on the Icefields Parkway-Nigel Creek.
Maps: Sunwapta Peak 83C/6, Columbia Icefield 83C/3, Gemtrek Columbia Icefield (southern portion only), National Geographic Jasper South.
POBOKTAN-JONAS PASS – 54 km one way
Caribou range – no dogs allowed.
A shorter alternative to the Brazeau loop, This is an impressive hike with over 13 km of travel above treeline. Good views and prime habitat for park wildlife including hoary marmot and woodland caribou. Elevation gain 1686 m and loss 1340m. Maximum elevation 2470 m.See notes for Brazeau loop above.
Trailhead: Sunwapta patrol station, 72km S of Jasper townsite on Icefields Parkway.
Maps: NTS Sunwapta Peak 83C/6, Columbia Icefield 83C/3, National Geographic Jasper South.
FIDDLE RIVER - 50 km return
Follow the Fiddle River to FiddlePass, a beautiful alpine summit straddling the park's eastern boundary. Beyond scenic Fiddle Pass a well-defined trail continues down to a provincial campground near Cadomin. A rugged, primitive trail with few bridged crossings that can be very muddy in places. Elevation gain 1200 m and loss 448m, from Miette Hotsprings one way. Maximum elevation 2135 m.
Trailhead: Miette Hotsprings (60 km NE from Jasper townsite).
Maps: NTS Miette 83F/4, Mountain Park 83 C/14, Cadomin 83 F/3, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake (to Whitehorse Pass only), National Geographic Jasper North.
Seven to Ten Day Trips
In wildland camping areas, toilets and food storage may not be present in some locations. Bear-resistant containers are required to store food.
ATHABASCA PASS - 98 km return
This remote historic trail follows the Whirlpool River valley, the traditional route of early fur traders crossing the Rocky Mountains. Large gravel flats and glaciers dominate the scenery in sections. Most major crossings are bridged as you climb toward Athabasca Pass National Historic Site. Some horse traffic.
Notes: The hiker bridge below Kane Meadows has been removed making this trail very challenging. Please contact the trail office at 780-852-6177 to discuss the re-route around a technical canyon feature. The typical safe hiking season is late August to early October. Future replacement status of this bridge is to be determined. Bikes allowed to Tie Camp Campground. Elevation gain 843 m and loss 311m, from Moab Lake road, one way. Maximum elevation 1755 m.
Trailhead: Moab Lake off Highway 93A.
Maps: NTS Athabasca Falls 83C/12, Amethyst Lakes 83D/9, Athabasca Pass 83D/8, Gemtrek Jasper and Maligne Lake, National Geographic Jasper South.
Watch the video in HD on YouTube
''Good Days and Bad Days - The backcountry wardens of Jasper National Park''
NORTH BOUNDARY - 179 km
North Boundary country possesses its own unique brand of beauty- a wilderness of broad valleys and distant views that is inhabited by an array of wildlife. The trail is rugged in places although most major river crossings are bridged. Some horse traffic. Elevation gain 2688 m and loss 2922m, from Celestine Road, one-way. Maximum elevation 2019 m.
Notes: The hiker bridge at Blue Creek was washed away making this trail very challenging, the typical safe hiking season for the North Boundary is late August to early October. Very remote, trail is maintained infrequently.
Trailheads: end of Celestine Road, 53 km from Jasper townsite; Rock Lake, 32km from Hwy 40 to Grande Cache; and at Mount Robson, 88 km west of Jasper townsite on Highway 16.
Maps: NTS Snaring 83E/1, Rock Lake 83E/8, Blue Creek 83E/7, Twintree Lake 83E/6, Mt. Robson 83E/3, National Geographic Jasper North.
SOUTH BOUNDARY - 120 km
This high country trek travels through lowland forest and over two alpine passes. Most major water crossing are bridged but the smaller streams may require fancy footwork. Much of the trail is very remote. Elevation gain1806m and loss 2231m, from Nigel Pass, one-way. Maximum elevation 2255 m.
Notes: Due to a recent landslide and post-fire deadfall, the trail between Jacques Lake and Grizzly Campground is very difficult to navigate. Travel through this area is not recommended. The trail is maintained infrequently between Brazeau Lake and Jacques Lake. The section of trail from Brazeau Lake to Highway 93 overlaps the popular Brazeau Loop. Advance Reservations for this section are a must.
Trailheads: Rocky Pass via Hwy 40, 77 km SE of Hinton. Nigel Pass: 112 km from Jasper townsite on the Icefields Parkway. Jacques Lake: North end of Medicine Lake on the Maligne Lake Road
Maps: NTS Columbia Icefield 83C/3, Sunwapta Peak 83C/6, Job Creek 83C/7, George Creek 83C/10, Southesk 83C/11, Mountain Park 83C/14, Medicine Lake 83C/13.