Bryant Creek and Lake Minnewanka
Improving Public Safety, and Conserving Grizzly Bears
Management strategies to reduce bear-human conflicts are in place in the Bryant Creek and Minnewanka areas of Banff National Park.
© Parks Canada / S. Michel
Over an eight-year period (1998 - 2005), five bear attacks occurred in two locations in Banff National Park - Allenby Pass near Bryant Creek, and on the Aylmer Pass trail near Lake Minnewanka. Both locations contain seasonally important grizzly bear habitat. The key attraction is an abundance of an important food source for grizzlies - buffalo-berries. All of the bear attacks resulted from hikers traveling alone or in a small group, who surprised female grizzlies with cubs along these trails during berry season.
New measures are in place to proactively manage visitor access to smaller selected areas where the attacks have occurred, to both protect visitors and minimize disturbance to bears feeding on berries.
The following will now be in effect:
Allenby Pass Restricted Access (Bryant Area)
From August 1 - September 30, "restricted access" will be in effect for the Allenby Pass area
- Hikers or horse groups wishing to travel between Brewster Creek and Bryant Creek will be allowed to travel over Allenby Pass by special permit only during the restricted access period. Permits are available by personal appointment at the Banff Information Centre (403) 762-1550. For hikers, permit conditions include a minimum group size of four adults (age 16 and over), with larger groups recommended. For horse groups, a minimum of 2 riders is required.
- The purpose of this action is to increase public safety. Hikers have surprised bears here in late summer and been seriously injured.
- Groups with permits will not have access to other trails in the Allenby Pass restricted area - specifically the higher-route trail to Assiniboine Pass, the Og Pass trail, and the highline trail from Og to Allenby Pass. These will be closed to all users during restricted access. Backcountry visitors interested in using these trails are encouraged to plan their trip earlier in the season.
- Br17 campground is outside of the restricted area and remains accessible.
Note: Visitors will still be able to hike to and from Assiniboine Lodge during restricted access via the lower-route trail to Assiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass.
Allenby Pass Restricted Access (Bryant Area)
Printable version (PDF, 443 KB) © Parks Canada
Lake Minnewanka Seasonal Trail Restriction: JULY 10 – SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
Lake Minnewanka Trail (from Stewart Canyon Bridge to the East Park Boundary)
Aylmer Pass Trail
Aylmer Lookout Trail
Lake Minnewanka is a key area for grizzly bears in Banff National Park. Female grizzly bears live and raise their cubs here, and are dependent upon an important food source, buffaloberries, which grow in abundance here.
Buffaloberries are in season from mid-July through September. They are a vital food source for grizzly bears, allowing them to build up fat reserves to survive our long, cold winters.
Did you know... that in order for grizzly bears to store enough fat reserves, they eat up to 200 000 buffaloberries per day? That is the same as you eating 60 hamburgers!!
In order to ensure visitor safety, and reduce disturbances to female grizzly bears and cubs during this important feeding season, this seasonal trail restriction has been put in place.
Hikers: Must hike in tight groups of 4 or more, and carry bear spray at all times during the restriction period.
Cyclists: Cycling is not permitted along the Lake Minnewanka Trail during the restriction period.
Dogs: Dogs are not permitted beyond Stewart Canyon Bridge during the restriction period.
Those who do not comply will be charged under the National Parks Regulations; maximum fine $25 000.Lake Minnewanka Seasonal Trail Restriction© Parks Canada
There are other cycling and hiking opportunities within Banff National Park. Refer to the park’s cycling and hiking brochures for detailed trail information. Please check the Trail Conditions Report for current trail conditions and Bear Updates for wildlife activity.
THANK YOU for respecting this seasonal trail restriction and for contributing to the long-term health of Banff’s grizzly bear population.
Core Areas: Critical Habitat for Female Grizzlies
The Bryant Creek area is one of three "core areas" for grizzly bears in Banff National Park. Aylmer Pass is very close to another – the Flint’s Park / Cascade area. The Lake Louise area is the third. These core areas contain critical bear habitat, and a concentration of female grizzlies live and raise their cubs here.Concentrations of Female Grizzly Bears in Banff National Park
Printable version (PDF, 150 KB)© Parks Canada
Buffalo-berries and grouse-berries are a key food source for grizzly bears. Buffalo-berries are usually ripe from mid-July through September, followed by grouse-berries which can last well into October. Grizzly bears on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies are food-stressed, and depend heavily on berries to put on weight for hibernation. During berry season, hikers can easily surprise bears that are preoccupied with feeding on berry bushes.
Banff National Park is committed to contributing to maintenance of a non-declining and viable population of grizzly bears in the regional landscape, as outlined in the Park’s Management Plan amendment: A Conservation Framework for Grizzly Bears (2004). High female grizzly bear survival is key to sustaining grizzly bear populations into the future. By allowing female bears and cubs to make more efficient use of high quality habitat with fewer disturbances at critical times of the year, these new management strategies will directly contribute to the conservation of grizzly bears.
Staying Safe in Critical Bear Habitat
Hiker with Bear Spray© Parks Canada
While all of Banff National Park is bear country, if you’re hiking in a "core area", you’re REALLY in bear country. Here are some extra safety precautions you should take to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear:
- Make noise…on a continuous basis to let the bears know you are coming, so they can move off and avoid you.
- Travel in groups…we recommend larger groups of four or more, travelling tightly together at all times.
- Each member of your party should carry bear spray, and have it readily available.
- Watch for fresh bear sign, e.g., tracks, droppings, diggings, torn-up logs. Leave the area if the signs are fresh.
- We recommend leaving your dogs at home. If you do bring them, they must be on a leash. Dogs will not be allowed in the Allenby Pass Restricted Access area.
Thank you for your co-operation in promoting public safety and bear conservation in Banff Nation Park. For more information on this or other bear management and safety measures in the park:
Bears and People
- Website: www.pc.gc.ca/banff-bears
- Parks Canada Publications: Bears and People
- Banff Information Centre: 403.762.1550
- Banff National Park Warden Office: 403.762.1470
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