South Boundary Trail update

Can you find the trail? The South Boundary Trail has suffered greatly in the wake of the 2003 Syncline Ridge Fire. Deadfall and regrowth makes it almost impossible to follow the    track between Jacques Lake and Rocky River. Rogier Gruys photos.

Can you find the trail? The South Boundary Trail has suffered greatly in the wake of the 2003 Syncline Ridge Fire. Deadfall and regrowth makes it almost impossible to follow the track between Jacques Lake and Rocky River. Rogier Gruys photos.

Ever since the Syncline Ridge Fire scorched the Breccia Creek section of Jasper’s South Boundary Trail in 2003, travel there has been iffy at best. Parks Canada didn’t have the resources to rehabilitate the trail, so nature was left to take its course.

Last week, Rogier Gruys, a Jasper Park Visitor Experience Specialist, decided to spend a long weekend investigating the trail’s condition. “It may be better than expected,” wrote Rogier as he prepared for his backcountry probe beyond Jacques Lake.

S Boundary2Rogier had a memorable trip, and his report back this week was not encouraging for anyone planning to hike the full South Boundary Trail.

“The section of the South Boundary Trail between Jacques Lake and the site of the former suspension bridge across the Rocky River is a lot worse than we thought. It is extremely difficult to get through, and it will only get worse in the coming years. There are thousands of trees down, and thousands more that will fall down in the coming years. And there are equally many young pine trees, willow, alders and buffalo berries crowding the trail as well…. And since the bridge is out, it can only be completed in the fall when the Rocky River is low.”

Rogier recommends that “only extremely experienced and determined hikers should attempt this section of the trail.” And we recommend that backpackers bound for the South Boundary country skip this section and use Rocky Pass instead (see trail #123 in the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide).