Jasper National Park – decommissioned trails

Access to Jasper Park's Maligne Pass has become more restricted through a policy of trail decommissions. While trail and campgrounds north of the pass will not be maintained, southern access from Poligne Creek will allow limited access.

Access to Jasper Park’s Maligne Pass has become more restricted through a policy of trail decommissions. While trail and campgrounds north of the pass will not be maintained, southern access from Poligne Creek will allow limited access. Mike McReynolds photo

For anyone who purchased Gem Trek’s “Jasper & Maligne Lake” or National Geographic’s “Jasper South” and “Jasper North” maps recently, some old, well-worn trails are conspicuously absent. No, these omissions aren’t typos but rather a reflection of trails that will no longer be maintained in the park.

The process of decommissioning certain trails in Jasper began a couple years ago as Parks Canada recognized certain trails were no longer worthy of maintenance or, in the case of the well-known Maligne Pass route, contained valuable wildlife habitat that was compromised by recreational activity.

Unfortunately for the map-makers, the Maligne Pass policy has been revised somewhat since Parks Canada requested removal of the 48-km trail between Poboktan Creek and Maligne Lake from their current editions. These revisions will see Avalanche Campground maintained for single parties with reservations. Though no maintenance or bridge replacement is planned for the 15-km trail up Poligne Creek,  the track is still good and bridges are intact.

However, north of Maligne Pass, the trail will be treated as a wilderness route. Campgrounds are scheduled for removal and the missing Maligne River bridge between the pass and Maligne Lake will not be replaced.

Other trails in Jasper Park affected by decommissioning are as follows:

92—Elysium Pass. The trail, bridges and campsite will no longer be maintained, though it can still be hiked as a wilderness route.

112—Glacier Trail. The 90-km route between Maligne Lake and the Nigel Pass trailhead in Banff National Park is no longer a recommended trip due to the decommissioned Maligne Valley trail (#110). However, anyone willing to bushwhack the unmaintained section can still complete this trip.

122—South Boundary Trail. The trail between Jacques Lake and Grizzly Campground has been badly damaged by forest fire, deadfall and land slumps. The Rocky River bridge north of Climax Creek is out, and the river is dangerous to ford before late August. Travel is not recommended through this area and there are no immediate plans to rehabilitate this section. Current access to the north end of the South Boundary is via Rocky Pass (#123).

128—North Boundary Trail. The bridge across Blue Creek is washed out and will remain so through the 2015 season. Hikers should ford the creek at the horse crossing just downstream from the old bridge site (may be hazardous before late August).

130—Glacier Pass-McLaren Pass. The last 10 km of the Glacier Pass trail beyond Spruce Tree Campground to the park boundary has been decommissioned. No deadfall or bridge maintenance will be performed. This section will exist strictly as a wilderness route for experienced backpackers. The trail from Little Heaven to Blue Creek via McLaren Pass is also a wilderness route and will not be maintained.

131—Blue Creek. The trail has been decommissioned between Natural Arch Campground and the park boundary at Hardscrabble Pass. No deadfall or bridge maintenance will be performed. This section will exist strictly as a wilderness route for experienced backpackers.

132—Moose Pass. The trail between Smoky River and the pass has been decommissioned. No deadfall, track or campground maintenance will be performed. It will exist strictly as a wilderness route for experienced backpackers. Yates Torrent bridge is currently washed out and will remain so through 2015.

133—Miette River. The trail has been decommissioned. No deadfall, bridge or campground maintenance will be performed. It will exist strictly as a wilderness route for experienced backpackers.

Old campsites still exist at Calumet Creek on the Moose Pass route and in the upper Miette River valley, but backpackers should bring bear-proof food containers and manage their own waste. Random camping is also allowed along all of these decommissioned trails.