Canadian Rockies Hiking Trail Updates

Every new edition of our Canadian Rockies hiking books is thoroughly researched, but oftentimes changes occur between editions (or maybe you are using an older edition). In this regard, this page is dedicated to trail changes you should know about before heading out into the backcountry.

Two types of updates are addressed on this page. The first are short term, such as bridge washouts and their replacement. Other updates are policy changes that will alter the way that people can use a trail forever, including decommissioning of trails.

All changes addressed below are accompanied by a trail number, which is taken from the most recent 9th edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, which was published in 2011 and revised and reprinted in 2015. NOTE: If you are using the 8th or earlier edition, the numbers will not correspond with updates posted below.

This page does not address day-to-day conditions, such as muddy trails or wildlife closures. We leave that to Parks Canada, which posts regular Trail Condition Reports for each national park. Click through the links at www.pc.gc.ca or check out a sample at Banff National Park Trail Conditions Report.

Banff National Park

Sunshine Meadows. The Sunshine Village gondola reopened for summer visitors in July 2016. The gondola will resume summer operations in 2017 on the July 1st weekend, transporting  visitors from the base station to Sunshine Village Friday through Monday. Shuttle bus service will be provided from the Sunshine parking lot Tuesday through Thursday. Both the gondola and shuttle bus will end summer operations after the third weekend of September. This schedule affects access to Sunshine Meadows Loop (25), Quartz Hill-Citadel Pass (26) and Simpson Pass-Healy Meadows (27) in the 9th edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. See website Summer at Sunshine Village.

47—Boulder Pass-Skoki Valley. Mountain bikes are not permitted on the access road between Fish Creek Parking Area and Temple Lodge.

After the Spreading Creek Fire. Photo taken September 2014.

After the Spreading Creek Fire near Warden Lake. Photo taken September 2014.

62—Warden Lake. This short trail at Saskatchewan River Crossing was badly affected by the Spreading Creek forest fire in July 2014.  The trail passes through burned forest, so travel with care, particularly during windy weather.

65—Nigel Pass. A bridge no longer spans Nigel Creek 150 m beyond the trailhead parking area. Instead, you continue on the old Banff-Jasper Highway roadbed for approximately 2.0 km before turning downhill to cross two creek bridges and climbing to an intersection at Old Camp Parker. This approach adds around 0.3 km to the overall distance to the pass.

67—Castleguard Meadows. The “Hiker’s Blog” contains a description of a recent trip to the meadows on this 35-km trail and exit via Saskatchewan Glacier, which should be useful for anyone planning a trip there. See Castleguard Meadows revisited.

70—Brewster Creek-Allenby Pass. The Healy Creek bridge at the Sunshine Road trailhead was severely damaged in June 2013 and has been replaced by a new bridge further downstream. A new 0.8 km trail leads from the revamped parking area to the bridge. Distances to all junctions and points of interest in the trail outline should be increased by 0.7 km.

77—Cascade Fire Road. The Cascade River bridge at km-6.4 was badly damaged during the June 2013 floods and has been replaced.

The Stony Creek bridge at km-14.8 was washed out and will not be replaced. But if you detour downstream from the old bridge site, you will find a squared timber hiker’s bridge that crosses the creek to Stony Creek Campground (Cr15).

79—Dormer Pass. Several sections of the trail leading up Stoney Creek were washed out by flooding in June, 2013. Major damage to the trail is reported near km-6.8 and further upstream. While park trail crews have completed some repairs and flagged fords, route-finding skills are required along this upper section of Stoney Creek and at a couple points on the final ascent to Dormer Pass.

83—Divide Creek-Peters Creek. Revisions to the Peters Creek section of this trail. A rocky, well-defined trail descends north from Divide Pass, staying on the east side of upper Peters Creek. Near the base of Mount Peters, where the valley narrows, the 2013 flood washed out sections of creekside trail for 2 or 3 km. After numerous fords, the trail eventually reappears, makes a final climb over the northeast shoulder of Mount Peters, and descends to an old outfitter’s camp in a meadow some distance from the Clearwater River.


Jasper National Park

Beginning in 2012, a number of remote trails in Jasper were decommissioned; for detailed information visit our blog post Jasper National Park’s Decommissioned Trails.

88—Saturday Night Lake Circuit. The High Lakes Campground (km 12.4) has been removed.

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

97—Path of the Glacier.The Cavell Creek section of the trail circuit was wiped out by flooding when a section of the Ghost Glacier collapsed into Cavell Pond in 2012. The first 0.7 km of the trail climbs as described to a viewpoint overlooking the pond, but the remainder of the loop is closed for restoration.

Access on the Cavell Road during summer 2017 will be restricted to 180 vehicles per day (by special permit) while construction continues at the road’s southern terminus. Check Hiker’s Blog “Travel Restrictions on Jasper’s Cavell Road” (June 21).

98—Cavell Meadows. Access on the Cavell Road during summer 2017 will be restricted to 180 vehicles per day (by special permit) while construction continues at the road’s southern terminus. Check Hiker’s Blog “Travel Restrictions on Jasper’s Cavell Road” (June 21).

102—Athabasca Pass. An ice jam destroyed the Simon Creek bridge (15.0 km) in December 2016. This is a serious crossing for most of the summer. With no immediate plans to replace the bridge, you should not attempt a ford until late season, if even then.

105—Fortress Lake. The suspension bridge over the Athabasca River at km 15 washed out October 2014 curtailing travel to the lake and Hamber Provincial Park via this route. (There is no safe way of crossing the river without a pack boat.) There are no plans to replace the bridge in the foreseeable future. See Hamber park cut off by JNP bridge collapse in the Jasper Fitzhugh.

109—Jonas Pass-Brazeau Lake Loop. Backpackers no longer cross to the east side of the Brazeau River at km 53.5 and km 61.1. A hiker’s trail stays on the west (true left) side of the Brazeau River between these two crossings (if in doubt, look for large, square blazes on trees). Wolverine South Campground and the trail on the east side of the river can still be used by horse travellers.

110—Maligne Pass. Parks Canada has decommissioned the 48-km Maligne Pass trail running from Poboktan Creek junction to Maligne Lake. The Maligne River bridge 20 km north of the Maligne Pass is gone and will not be replaced, and all campgrounds between the pass and Maligne Lake are scheduled for removal.

The southern approach to Maligne Pass via Poligne Creek is still in good shape and should remain passable for strong day hikers, though no maintenance or bridge replacement are planned. Parks Canada will maintain Avalanche Campground but with a quota of one party per night, which provides a pretty special experience for the lucky souls who manage to reserve it.  (Check with the Trail Desk at the Jasper Visitor Centre).

112—Glacier Trail. The 90-km route running between Maligne Lake and the Nigel Pass trailhead in Banff National Park is no longer a viable trip due to the decommissioned section of the Maligne Pass trail (Trail #110) between the pass and Maligne Lake.

115—Watchtower Basin. The Maligne River bridge at the trailhead washed out in 2012 and hasn’t been replaced. You need to start your hike with an easy, ankle-deep ford. (Occasional high water early season if nearby Medicine Lake overflows.)

First 4 km of the trail passes through the 2015 Excelsior Creek burn. Watch for falling trees.

122—South Boundary Trail. The section of the South Boundary from Jacques Lake to Grizzly Campground was badly damaged by forest fire in 2003.  Travel is not recommended through this area. Alternate access to the north end of the South Boundary is via Rocky Pass (Trail #123). See blog post South Boundary Trail update.

South of Cairn Pass, at the Cairn River ford and vicinity, the trail was washed out during the 2013 floods. Finding the trail through this section can be troublesome, so be patient and watch for yellow diamond markers on trees. See blog post Jasper’s South Boundary Trail revisited, November 4, 2015.

Backpackers no longer cross to the east side of the Brazeau River between Brazeau Campground and Four Point Junction. Stay on the west side of the Brazeau and ignore horse crossings to the east side and the Wolverine South horse camp.

A crucial junction at km 1.6 on the Rocky Pass trail, where foot-trail branches left from the seismic line. Parks Canada/Rogier Gruys photo.

A crucial junction at 1.6 km on the Rocky Pass trail, where the hiker-horse trail branches left from the seismic line. Parks Canada/Rogier Gruys photo.

123—Rocky Pass. Rocky Pass is the recommended point of access to the South Boundary Trail (#122). From the junction with the South Boundary near Medicine Tent Campground, most backpackers turn south for Cairn Pass. A short section of the South Boundary is maintained north of this junction to Rocky Forks Campground. See blog post A new approach to Jasper’s South Boundary, August 13, 2014. Since the trail to Rocky Pass from Alberta Lands & Forests territory can be messy and confusing, take the time to read more recent descriptions provided by contributors at the end of the post.

128—North BoundaryTrail. The wash-out of the Blue Creek bridge at km 63 now requires that backpackers ford the creek at this point. Since this is a major tributary of the nearby Snake Indian River, crossing it is no small feat until late in the season (late August-early September).

130—Glacier Pass-McLaren Pass. The last 10 km of this trail between Spruce Tree Campground and Glacier Pass has been decommissioned. No deadfall, bridge or campground 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 considered a wilderness route and will receive no maintenance.

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

132—Moose Pass. 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.

133—Miette River. The trail has been decommissioned. No deadfall, bridge or campground maintenance will be performed, and according to a reader there are around 300 trees across the trail. This same reader reports that the Moose River ford is very difficult. It will exist strictly as a wilderness route for experienced backpackers.

 

Yoho National Park

154—Amiskwi River. Vehicles can no longer use the Ensign Creek approach to Amiskwi Pass and Lodge described on page 309. Due to flood damage on the Blaeberry River Forest Service Road in 2013, vehicles can only travel as far as Mummery Creek (km 28), leaving another 21 km to the pass-lodge parking area via hike or bike. Access to the lodge is primarily via helicopter (see Amiskwi Lodge).

 

Kootenay National Park

The collapsed bridge at Numa Falls canyon. July 2015.

The collapsed bridge at Numa Falls canyon. July 2015.

165—Rockwall Trail. The suspension bridge at 12.0 km has been washed out. Backpackers must navigate a knee-deep ford of Helmet Creek just upstream from the bridge site. Tumbling Creek and Numa Creek trails cannot be used as optional routes due to missing bridges and impassable fords (July 2017).

166—Helmet Creek. The suspension bridge at 12.0 km has been washed out. Backpackers will need to make a knee-deep ford of Helmet Creek just upstream from the bridge site (July 2017).

167—Tumbling Creek. Trail has been closed due to washed out bridges (July 2017).

169—Numa Creek. The loss of the trailhead bridge over Vermilion River at Numa Falls Picnic Area in 2015 has forced the closure of the Numa Creek trail for the foreseeable future. Day hikers from Floe Lake and backpackers along the Rockwall Trail should not consider this trail as an optional exit since the Vermilion River is virtually unfordable. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced autumn 2017.

172—Simpson River-Ferro Pass. The suspension bridge that spanned the Simpson River to Surprise Creek (10.9 km) was damaged during the spring 2015 runoff and has been removed. Plans are underway to replace the bridge, but until then, fording the Simpson River is hazardous and not recommended.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park

All park trails west of the Waterton Valley suffered damage from the Kenow wildfire that swept down the Cameron and Blakiston Valleys in September 2017. With the exception of Wishbone-Vimy Peak (185) and Crypt Lake (186), all trails, side roads and campgrounds were closed at season’s end.

 

Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park

Most of the park was consumed by the Kenow wildfire in September, 2017, including Akamina Pass and approach trails to Forum and Wall Lakes. All access to and in the park was closed at season’s end.

 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

200 – South Kananaskis Pass.  Repairs needed after the 2013 flood have been completed and the trail is in full operation again.

203 – Boulton Creek. Bridge replacement and repairs are complete for this trail damaged by the 2013 flood.

207 – Chester Lake. The trail is closed annually through May and June to allow “the area to dry and to prevent damage to the trail and surrounding area.” The trail is frequently closed for short periods when grizzly bears are feeding near the lake.

 

Elk Lakes Provincial Park

An isolation of the Elk Lakes Provincial Park map shows three approach trails to the Elk Lakes from Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. On the right is the powerline bike trail (Trans Canada Trail. In the middle is the Elkan Creek trail from Elk Pass. And to the left is the West Elk Pass-Frozen Lake approach trail. The latter has always been my favourite, but as indicated on this map, it no longer crosses at the Upper Elk Lake outlet. The park and its trail system can also be access via a 67 km forestry road leading north from Elkford, B.C. (see "P" at the park boundary). Check out the full Elk Lakes Provincial Park Map on the B.C. Parks website.

An isolation of the Elk Lakes Provincial Park map shows the trail system in the core area following relocation and repairs in the wake of the 2013 floods. Check out the full Elk Lakes Provincial Park Map on the B.C. Parks website.

210 – Elk Lakes via Elk Valley. Repairs to flood damaged trails (2013) was completed in 2016. The primary trail from the park entrance to Lower and Upper Elk Lake was rebuilt (wheelchair access) and rerouted over a height of land south of the upper lake’s outlet.  See Elk Lakes’ refurbished trail system blog.

211 – Elk Lakes via West Elk Pass. While the most direct trail from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to Elk Lakes is in good condition, the bridge at the Upper Elk Lake outlet has been abandoned and the trail rerouted to intersect the primary trail midway between Lower and Upper Elk Lakes. (You can still hike the short section of the old trail to a washout viewpoint for Upper Elk Lake.) The West Elk Pass-Elkan Creek and the Elk Pass hydro line trails are in good shape as alternate routes to Elk Lakes from Peter Lougheed Park. See Elk Lakes’ refurbished trail system blog.