Category Archives: hiking

Visiting Waterton Park in 2018

The Kenow Fire, which swept through the park last September, has left the western half of Waterton Lakes National Park closed for the 2018 summer season, including most of the park’s hiking trails. While hiking opportunities in the park will be more limited this year, the closures do offer an excellent excuse to visit some areas you might not normally consider.   Trails With the exception of the popular Crypt […]

Lake O’Hara: A quota for paradise

“Welcoming visitors since 1925 to what is certainly one of the singularly most stunning alpine locations on earth.” This description on the Lake O’Hara Lodge website is certainly no exaggeration.  Lake O’Hara’s scenic reputation and outstanding trail system has been drawing hikers for decades. In the 1970s, a quota system was introduced for bus access to the lake, one based on accommodation at the lodge, the Alpine Club of Canada’s […]

Summit Trail Makers: Volunteering for trails

Parks and wilderness recreation managers across North America are increasingly turning to volunteer trail crews to help maintain backcountry facilities. With the exception of the Jasper Trail Alliance, Parks Canada has rejected volunteer help, despite a steady reduction in trail maintenance and a deterioration in backcountry infrastructure. Administrators provide a vague list of reasons for rejecting volunteer participation. Parks Canada’s Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) union supports expanded facility and […]

Post wildfire recovery in Waterton Park

It is estimated that 30% of Waterton Lakes National Park was burned by the Kenow wildfire that swept through the park in mid-September. The scenes of charred forest and buildings left park fans, including hikers, wondering what the future holds. For many who spent their entire lives enjoying Waterton’s unique landscape and flora, there was despair at what transpired in less than 48 hours. There was a tremendous sense of loss (see Waterton […]

Review: Katadyn BeFree Microfilter

After years of searching for the perfect water filter for the backcountry, I recently discovered  the Katadyn BeFree Microfilter with Hydrapak 0.6L flask—a water filter and soft, collapsible bottle that comes very close to the good old days of scooping water directly from streams with a canteen or tin cup. The variety of water filters and various treatment devises nowadays is overwhelming. Some people use tablets or chemical drops (chlorine […]

Waterton Park: After the Kenow Wildfire

  As autumn snow dusts the peaks down to the 2000-m level, Waterton Park has reopened, more or less, and is licking its wounds following the Kenow wildfire, the most devastating forest fire in the park’s history. The townsite is open for business and visitors are hiking the trails on the east side of the valley, including Crypt Lake, for a few more days. But it will take until next year […]

Avalanche debris obstructs park trails

Many hikers are calling this the summer of wildfire smoke, but it’s also the summer of avalanche debris. These hiking obstacles are the result of heavy spring snowfall followed by avalanches that deposited trees and other debris across mountain park trails. It wasn’t just a matter of snow piles covering stretches of trail. In some areas, large trees were deposited in tumbled tangles 5m high, indicating that these were once-in-200-year slides. Popular trails […]

High country snow lingers on park trails

An above average snowpack in the Mountain Parks will likely plague many high trails until late July this year. Trails above 2200m (7,200ft) on north and east facing slopes will be particularly vulnerable to lingering snow banks. While snowpack tracked close to normal through the first half of the winter, there was a big surge in accumulations at all recording stations in March and near-record peaks by the beginning of May. Warm weather […]

Elk Lakes’ refurbished trail system

The core trails in B.C.’s Elk Lakes Provincial Park are fully functional again following a three-year recovery from the floods of 2013. But one of the most popular trails into the park via West Elk Pass has been relocated and no longer travels direct to Upper Elk Lake. Nearby Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta took a big hit from the 2013 floods, but all the trails in Elk Lakes […]

More free shuttle buses in Banff for 2017

There will be more Roam buses and Parks Canada shuttles plying the roads of Banff National Park this summer as the park and Town of Banff gear up for the busiest summer ever. Parks Canada shuttles will be free, and Roam bus fares nominal. The expanded shuttle services, announced by Parks Canada on May 12, will serve not only general sightseers but also hikers looking to access trailheads around Banff, Lake […]