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Canadian Rockies Trail Guide

Trail Updates

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. 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.



National Parks-Backcountry Camping—The annual Wilderness Pass for overnight travel in the Mountain National Parks was discontinued in 2018. Backcountry camping now requires a fee of $10.50 per night per person and a mandatory, non-refundable registration fee of $12.50.


Banff National Park

Sunshine Meadows—The Sunshine Summer Gondola returns to full operation from June 24 until September 11, 2022 (8am to 6pm). A gondola ticket includes access to the Standish Chairlift, which carries visitors from the lodge complex to the 2385m summit of Standish Peak and the nearby viewing deck. Sunshine Mountain Lodge will also provide accommodation during the 2022 summer season. Lake Louise-Moraine Lake—Traffic flaggers monitor parking at both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and turn back vehicles when lots are full. The best chance of getting a spot in the parking lots is prior to sunrise. In addition, parking at the Lake Louise lot will cost $12.50 per vehicle per day from mid-May to mid-October (7am to 7pm). Parks Canada will operate shuttle buses to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake by reservation only for the 2022 season. Shuttles depart from the Park & Ride at the Lake Louise Ski Area parking lot, located at the end of the Whitehorn Road 2.6 km (1.6 mi) northeast of the Trans Canada Highway interchange. Shuttles run to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and also provide travel between the lakes so both can be visited in a day. However, hikers should focus on only one destination per day. Reservations for the shuttle service begin May 4, 2022. ROAM transit buses run from Banff to Lake Louise throughout the summer (7:30am to 7:00pm). ROAM is also expected to provide direct service from Banff to Moraine Lake seven days a week from mid-September to mid-October. Starting in 2022, ROAM tickets allow visitors free access to Parks Canada’s shuttle service between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. More detailed information is available on Parks Canada’s Getting around the Lake Louise area web page.

After the Spreading Creek Fire. Photo taken September 2014.

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

Warden Lake. The trail passes through burned forest, so travel with care, particularly during windy weather. 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 to a junction near a patrol cabin. Bear downhill (right) to the patrol cabin and open meadows. Two bridged stream crossings lead to Old Camp Parker, where the ascent toward the pass begins. Castleguard Meadows. The “Hiker’s Blog” contains descriptions of recent trips to the meadows on this 35-km trail, which should be useful for anyone planning a trip there. See Castleguard Meadows: The Gilroy Report,  Castleguard Meadows revisited and Finding the trail to Castleguard Meadows. Fatigue Creek. The trail was always rough, but when it was badly damaged during flooding in June 2013, the commercial outfitter working out of Brewster Creek (Sundance Lodge) discontinued trips up the valley. With trail washouts and lack of use, many sections of trail have disappeared. The track is virtually invisible over Fatigue Pass and visible but overgrown on the upper reaches of Fatigue Creek. Further down sections are covered by avalanche debris and washed out by flooding. Anyone hiking between Fatigue Pass and Brewster Creek should consider this a route rather than a trail. 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). 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. 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. Elysium Pass. The trail, bridges and campsite are no longer maintained, and the trail has been decommissioned. 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. 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. 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. 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. Maligne Pass. Parks Canada has recommissioned 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, but all campgrounds between the pass and Maligne Lake are to be reinstated. 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. (Check with the Trail Desk at the Jasper Visitor Centre for current conditions). Watchtower Basin. First 4 km of the trail passes through the 2015 Excelsior Creek burn. Watch for falling trees. 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.

Fording the Cairn River, 2019. Stuart Howe photo.

South of Cairn Pass, starting at the first crossing of the Cairn River (bridge gone), many sections of the trail were washed out during the 2013 floods. Finding the trail through this section can be troublesome. There are a number of back-and-forth crossings of the river, so be patient and watch for yellow diamond markers on trees. See blog post Jasper’s South Boundary Trail revisited, November 4, 2015, and South Boundary Trail—The Movie, August 22, 2019. As of summer, 2019, the Southesk River suspension bridge was still in place, but it was difficult to find a route to it through the Southesk River burn. See South Boundary Trail—The Movie, August 22, 2019. 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.

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. North Boundary Trail. 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 is safest in late August or September. The Twintree Creek bridge (2 km downstream from Twintree Campground) was damaged by flooding during the spring of 2021. Fording the creek is not permitted at the bridge site. (See also Berg Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park.) 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. 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. 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. 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

Amiskwi River. According to reports, renewed logging activity in the Blaeberry Valley has restored the Blaeberry Forest Service Road and access roads on Ensign Creek. So the original description of access to Amiskwi Pass from the north that appears in the 9th edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide may be valid. Anyone planning to use this approach should contact the Golden Forest District first and be wary of industrial (logging) traffic. Meanwhile, access to Amiskwi Lodge is primarily via helicopter (see Amiskwi Lodge).


Kootenay National Park

Numa Creek. Parks Canada replaced the Numa Falls bridge in the late summer of 2020, and restoration work was completed on the Numa Creek trail beyond the falls in July 2021. The trail is now fully open. Simpson River-Ferro Pass. Hikers on the Kootenay Park section of the trail are advised to watch for deadfall from wildfire burned trees. The suspension bridge that spanned the Simpson River to Surprise Creek (11 km) in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park was damaged during the spring 2015 runoff and removed. In September, 2019, it was replaced and the Surprise Creek cabin just beyond the bridge crossing was refurbished. The trail climbing along Surprise Creek from Simpson River soon enters the 2017 Verdant Creek burn and follows through scorched forest nearly all the way to Ferro Pass. Though BC Parks has cleared the trail and restored the Rock Lake campground, hikers should still be aware of post-wildfire hazards (falling trees, ash pits, etc.).

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. Parks Canada has been working on the Red Rock Parkway, Akamina Parkway and adjacent trails since then. The Red Rock Parkway and Akamina Parkway have reopened to motor vehicles. With a few exceptions, the park’s trails are open and in good shape (see Waterton Lakes National Park-Trail Conditions). The Waterton Park Visitor Centre, which was destroyed by the Kenow fire, has been relocated to a new Visitor Centre in the townsite at 404 Cameron Falls Drive.. Bear’s Hump. The popular short trail to a viewpoint overlooking the village of Waterton has been restored and reopened (2020). The trail switchbacks upwards through the charred remains of the 2017 Kenow fire. Waterton Lakeshore. Sections of forest along the trail from the townsite to the U.S. border were burned by the Kenow fire, but the trail is in good shape and the Bertha Bay Campground has reopened.

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 trails in the park are open as is the Akamina Creek Campground.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Vehicle access to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and the surrounding Kananaskis Country recreation area has always been free. That changes on June 1, 2021, when a daily fee of $15 will be charged per vehicle. An annual pass is available for $90. Visitors will need to register their vehicles by licence plate online ahead of their visit or by using new wifi hotspots or at visitors centres and the Canmore Nordic Centre. 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

Elk Lakes via Elk Valley. Repairs to flood damaged trails (2013) were 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. 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. 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.

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

A reservation system for core campgrounds (Lake Magog and Og Lake) came into effect for the summer 2018, replacing the old first-come, first-served system for these sites. See Reserving campsites in Mt Assiniboine for details.


Mount Robson Provincial Park

Kinney Lake. A flash flood seriously damaged the Berg Lake trail and bridges on July 2, 2021. As a result, the trail is closed to backpackers indefinitely (probably through 2023).  However, the trail is open for day use as far as the Kinney Lake Campground (6.8 km), but camping there is not permitted. Berg Lake. A flash flood seriously damaged the Berg Lake trail and bridges on July 2, 2021. As a result, the trail is closed to backpackers indefinitely (probably through 2023).