Trails and trip ideas
Jasper National Park offers backcountry adventures for everyone, from easy one-night escapes for the entire family to advanced multi-week adventures deep into Jasper's rugged backcountry. With options for hikers, paddlers, horse riders and mountain bikers, there are adventures for everyone.
Plan your trip by downloading our backcountry guides. These provide in-depth trip planning information for all popular trails in the park. Once you have planned your adventure, book it online at pc.gc.ca/bookjasperbackcountry
Two or three day trips
SATURDAY NIGHT LAKE LOOP - 24 km loop, two days. Hiking, horse riding, mountain biking.
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.
JACQUES LAKE - 24 km return, two days. Hiking, horse riding, mountain biking.
This unique trail travels through a narrow mountain valley, skirts four lakes and crosses a watershed- all in less than 13 km and with little change in elevation. A good choice for novice hikers.
Elevation gain 90 m. Maximum elevation 1540 m.
BIG BEND - 12.6 km return, two days. Hiking, mountain biking.
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 37 m. Maximum elevation 1400 m.
CELESTINE LAKE - 13.2 km return, two days. Hiking, mountain biking.
A moderate hike or bike an old fire road to a secluded, forested lake-side campground. Beautiful views of the Snake Indian River valley along the way.
Elevation gain/loss: 330 m. Max elevation: 1283 m
ATHABASCA ISLAND - 3.5 km one-way, two days. Canoeing.
This is a beautiful campsite on a small island in an easy section of the Athabasca River, accessible by paddling 3.5 km from the nearest road access.
MALIGNE LAKE CANOEING - 7 km to 44 km return, two-three days.
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.
SKYLINE - 44 km one way, two-three days. Hikers.
Caribou range – no dogs 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 1928 m. Maximum elevation 2510 m.
TONQUIN VALLEY - 43 km return, two-three days. Hikers, horses.
Caribou range – no dogs 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 1053 m and loss 1293 m. Maximum elevation 2210 m.
FRYATT VALLEY - 35 km return (Brussels campground), 44 km return (ACC hut). Hikers, bikers.
This alpine valley, tucked into one of Jasper’s great mountain ranges is a jewel that rewards all your efforts. Camp at Brussels and explore the upper valley and beautiful Fryatt Lake on day two, or tackle the infamous headwall to the Alpine Hut and the small hanging valley beyond. Elevation gain 690 m. Maximum elevation 2040 m.
Four Day Trips
BRAZEAU LOOP - 80 km loop. Hikers, horses.
Caribou range – no dogs 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.
POBOKTAN-JONAS PASS - 54 km one way. Hikers.
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 1340 m. Maximum elevation 2470 m. See notes for Brazeau loop above.
FIDDLE RIVER - 37 km one way. Hikers, horses.
Follow the Fiddle River to Fiddle Pass, a beautiful alpine summit straddling the park's eastern boundary. Beyond scenic Fiddle Pass a well-defined but often very muddy trail continues down to a provincial campground near Cadomin. A rugged, primitive trail with few bridged crossings that can be very muddy in places. Not recommended during periods of high water. Elevation gain 1200 m and loss 448 m, from Miette Hotsprings. Maximum elevation 2135 m.
Seven to Ten Day Trips
ATHABASCA PASS - 98 km return. Hikers, horses.
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. Elevation gain 843 m and loss 311 m, from Moab Lake road, one way. Maximum elevation 1755 m.
NORTH BOUNDARY - 179 km one way. Hikers, horses.
The 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 and many large, potentially dangerous creek crossings are not bridged. Some horse traffic. Elevation gain 2688 m and loss 2922 m, from Celestine Road, one-way. Maximum elevation 2019 m.
SOUTH BOUNDARY - 120 km one way, Hikers, horses.
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 gain 1806 m and loss 2231 m, from Nigel Pass, one-way. Maximum elevation 2255 m.
Backcountry Huts and Lodges
There are two commercial backcountry lodges in the Tonquin Valley, accessible by horse or on foot:
There is one commercial backcountry lodge along the Skyline trail:
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) manages two hike-in huts and two climbing huts:
If you are staying at an ACC hut 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.
Mountain biking is permitted on the following backcountry trails:
- Jacques Lake
- Fryatt Valley to Lower Fryatt Campground
- Athabasca Pass trail to Tie Camp Campground
- North Boundary Trail from the Celestine trailhead to Rock Lake
- Fortress Lake Trail
- Saturday Night Lake Loop
Check the mountain biking guide for further information on mountain biking in the park.
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:
Random camping opportunities are available in remote areas of Jasper National Park. Campers wishing to camp randomly must purchase a backcountry camping permit by calling 780-852-6177. Random camping permits cannot be booked online.
Random camping regulations
Party Size: Maximum 6 persons per group.
Camps: Random camping is only allowed a full day’s travel from trails or roads (approximately 5 km in non-technical terrain) and 100 metres from water bodies. Practice Leave No Trace practices.
Fires: Wood fires of any kind are NOT permitted. Gas stove use only.
Food Storage: Hang food at least four metres above the ground and two metres from each tree trunk (bring 20 m length of rope). Food drops intended for re-supply for extended trips should be hung to food storage poles at the nearest designated campground. A detailed note should be left in the food bag and should state the party’s name, contact information, route, trip dates and when they intend to retrieve the items. Bear canisters will be hung above ground when camping below treeline.
Chainsaws: The use of chainsaws is prohibited when travelling to and from random camps.
Length of Stay: Two night maximum. Carefully choose tenting areas to minimize vegetation damage.
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 National Park.
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.