The Tonquin Valley is one of Canada’s premiere backcountry destinations, with impressive peaks, glaciers and scenic lakes. It’s also known for its variety of wildlife, which includes grizzly bears, black bears and caribou. The area has a reputation for muddiness and an abundance of mosquitoes. Late summer and fall are the best times to enjoy this trail. Seven campgrounds, and an Alpine Club of Canada hut can be booked ahead for accommodation.

Planning considerations

  • Maintained trail: high priority
  • 43.1 km one way
  • Trail #105 and Trail #106: 2-3 days
  • No bike No bikes
  • No fire No fires
  • No dogs No dogs

 

The details

The valley is popular for its stunning views of Amethyst Lake at the base of The Ramparts mountain range. The trail is horseshoeshaped, with access to the valley from two trailheads. You may wish to arrange transportation so that you can hike in from one trailhead and out to the other. Travelling in from the Astoria trailhead has less elevation and quicker access to the campgrounds on the south end of Amethyst Lake. Starting from the Maccarib trailhead is generally considered more scenic. For hikers without transportation, the Astoria (#42) – Switchback (#43) – Clitheroe (#44) – Surprise Point (#45) and out via Chrome Lake loop is a good option, though not as well maintained. Day trips into the Eremite Valley and to Moat Lake are great for those with some extra time.

Distance to campgrounds

Distance to campground
From Cavell Road via Astoria River to: From Portal Creek via Maccarib Pass to:
Astoria: 7.1 km
Switchback: 13.6 km
Clitheroe: 16.9 km
Surprise Point: 19.1 km
Amethyst: 20.1 km
Portal: 8.7 km
Maccarib: 19.6 km
Amethyst: 23 km

Alpine Club of Canada Hut (ACC)

Wates-Gibson Hut

  • Phone: 403-678-3200
  • Email:  info@alpineclubofcanada.ca

Elevation profile

Elevation

Text version
  • The elevation profile shows the trail beginning at the Astoria trailhead at 1730 m
  • Gradual descent over 7.1 km to Astoria Campground (1690 m)
  • Gentle climb for about 3 km, then more steeply to Switchback Campground at km 13.6
  • (2067 m).
  • No significant elevation changes over the next 3.3 km to Clitheroe Campground (2080m)
  • Beyond Clitheroe Campground, Surprise Point Campground is 2.2 km (1978 m) and Amethyst Campground is 3.2 km (1985 m)
  • From Amethyst campground, Maccarib Campground is 3.4 km (2012 m)
  • Trail ascends for 7.1 km to 2205m at Maccarib pass, then descend 3.8 km to Portal Campground (1979 m)
  • The 8.7 km to the Portal Trailhead (1480 m) is mainly a descent, except for a 75 m ascent shortly beyond the campground
 

Campground information

Campground information
Campground Elevation Description # of sites Toilet type Food storage UTM
Astoria
#42

No fire
1690 m This forested campground sits on a ridge high above the Astoria River. 4 Throne Lockers 11U 422681
5837524
Switchback
#43

No fire
2067 m A somewhat forested campground, which still has great views of the surrounding mountains. 8 Throne Lockers 11U 418802
5837175
Clitheroe
#44

No fire
2080 m This forested campground offers views of the Ramparts Mountain Range. It can be used as a base camp to explore the Eremite Valley. 8 Barrel Lockers 11U 416199
5838929
Surprise Point
#45

No fire
1978 m This campground close to the base of the Ramparts Mountain Range has stunning views. It is also a great base for day hiking into the Eremite Valley. 4 Barrel Lockers 11U 415545
5837389
Amethyst
#46

No fire
1985 m Located close to Amethyst Lake with spectacular views of the Ramparts Mountain Range, this is the most centrally located and most popular campground in the valley. 8 Barrel Lockers 11U 414457
5840086
Maccarib
#47

No fire
2012 m This campground is perched nicely at treeline with great views of the valley. 8 Barrel Lockers 11U 414561
5842975
Portal
#48

No fire
1979 m A nice campground in an open forest next to a creek. 4 Barrel Lockers 11U 421730
5843293

How to get there

 
Directions to Portal trailhead

Portal Creek is on Marmot Road (16 km from Jasper). This trailhead is accessible year-round.

From Jasper

  • Take the Icefields Parkway towards Banff, and turn right immediately after the park gate onto Wabasso Road (Hwy 93A).
  • Continue along 93A for 2.4 km, and turn right onto Marmot Road.
  • The trailhead is on your left at km 12 of the road, marked by a hiker sign.

From Banff and Lake Louise

  • Follow the Icefields Parkway north towards Jasper.
  • Turn left at the junction for Highway 93A / Athabasca Falls, 200 km north of Lake Louise.
  • Continue along 93A for 21.5 km, and turn left onto Marmot Road.
  • The trailhead is on your left at km 12 of the road, marked by a hiker sign.

Directions to Astoria trailhead

Cavell Road (29 km from Jasper): The road is typically open to vehicles from late-June to October 15. The Cavell Road is closed to all use from November 1 through May 15 for caribou conservation.

From Jasper

  • Take the Icefields Parkway towards Banff, and turn right immediately after the park gate, onto Highway 93A.
  • Continue along 93A for 5.2 km, and turn right onto the Edith Cavell Road.
  • The trailhead is across from Hostelling International’s (HI) Edith Cavell Hostel, at km 12 of the road.

From Banff and Lake Louise

  • Follow the Icefields Parkway north towards Jasper.
  • Turn left at the junction for Highway 93A / Athabasca Falls, 200 km north of Lake Louise.
  • Continue for 18.8 km, and turn left onto the Edith Cavell Road.
  • The trailhead is across from Hostelling International’s (HI) Edith Cavell Hostel, at km 12 of the road.

Are you prepared?

Safety is your responsibility

 Safety is your responsibility

Refer to the Jasper National Park Backcountry Planning Guide (link):

  • descriptions of trail types and campground facilities;
  • equipment checklists;
  • responsible camping practices;
  • safety information.

Before heading out, check trail, weather and road conditions at: parkscanada.gc.ca/jaspertrails.

 Maps

Maps
NTS National Geographic Gem Trek
Jasper 83D/16
Amethyst Lakes 83D/9
Jasper South Jasper and Maligne Lake

 Permits

A backcountry camping permit is mandatory for all overnight trips and can be obtained online at reservations.pc.gc.ca or by calling 1-877-737-3783.