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—Sunshine Meadows opens for the 2018 summer season on June 29. Access to the Meadows is via gondola on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and by shuttle bus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (information and reservations on the Sunshine Meadows Banff website). The gondola makes its final run for the summer on September 3 and the shuttle bus on September 23. Sunshine Mountain Lodge is available for on-site accommodation throughout the period.
47—Boulder Pass-Skoki Valley. Mountain bikes are not permitted on the access road between Fish Creek Parking Area and Temple Lodge.
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 are no longer maintained, though the trail can still be hiked as an unofficial wilderness route.
97—Path of the Glacier. The Cavell Road will be closed from April 1, 2018 until construction and upgrades at the Mount Edith Cavell day use area are complete, likely through the remainder of the hiking season. There will be no access to the Path of the Glacier trail during this period. For latest information on the Cavell Road closure, consult Jasper National Park Infrastructure Reports on the Jasper National Park website.
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.
98—Cavell Meadows. The Cavell Road will be closed from April 1, 2018 until construction and upgrades at the Mount Edith Cavell day use area are complete, likely through the end of the hiking season. There will be no access to the Cavell Meadows trail during this period. For latest information on the Cavell Road closure, consult Jasper National Park Infrastructure Reports on the Jasper National Park website.
100-Astoria River. The Cavell Road will be closed from April 1, 2018 until construction and upgrades at the Mount Edith Cavell day use area are complete, likely through the end of the hiking season. There will be no access to the Astoria River trail during this period. For latest information on the Cavell Road closure, consult Jasper National Park Infrastructure Reports on the Jasper National Park website.
102—Athabasca Pass. Highway 93A (Wabasso Road) will be closed from July 30 to October 31, 2018, while road improvements are underway between Wabasso Campground and the Geraldine Road junction. There will be no access to Moab Lake and the Athabasca Pass (Whirlpool) trail during this period. For latest information on the Highway 93A (Wabasso Road) closure, consult Jasper National Park Infrastructure Reports on the Jasper National Park website.
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 Maligne Pass trail (Trail #110) between the pass and Maligne Lake has been decommissioned. This section of the Glacier Trail should be considered a wilderness route (no maintained bridges or campsites).
115—Watchtower Basin. 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.
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 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 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
165—Rockwall Trail. The suspension bridge at 12.0 km washed out in 2017. Backpackers may need to make 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 (May 2018).
166—Helmet Creek. The suspension bridge at 12.0 km was washed out in 2017. Backpackers might need to make a knee-deep ford of Helmet Creek just upstream from the bridge site.
167—Tumbling Creek. The trail is closed due to washed out bridges and not expected to reopen until August 2018 at the earliest.
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 not scheduled to be replaced until August 2018 at the earliest.
172—Simpson River-Ferro Pass. Sections of the Simpson River valley were burned during the 2017 Verdant Creek Wildfire. Parks Canada has closed its section of the trail while it assesses the damage and possibility of flare-ups in the aftermath of the fire. Additionally, the suspension bridge that spanned the Simpson River to Surprise Creek (10.9 km) in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park was damaged during the spring 2015 runoff and has been removed. The eastern section of the trail from Lake Magog to Ferro Pass was unaffected by the fire and will remain open.
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) on the east side of Waterton Valley, all trails to the west were affected by the fire. However, some trails in the burned area were reopened in late June, 2018. To keep abreast of current conditions and further trail openings, check out Waterton Lakes National Park’s website “What’s open in 2018”.
The Waterton Park Visitor Centre was destroyed by the Kenow fire. It has been relocated to the Lions Hall on Fountain Avenue for 2018.
183—Bertha Lake. This popular trail reopened in late June, 2018. You will be passing through sections of burned forest on the climb to Bertha Falls and the lake, but both of those features are still surrounded by lush, green forest. The campground at Bertha Lake has also opened for the season.
184—Waterton Lakeshore. Sections of forest along this trail from the townsite to the U.S. border were burned by the fire, but the trail is in good shape and the Bertha Bay Campground has reopened. If you plan on hiking into the U.S., you must clear customs (check at the Waterton Park Visitor Centre).
192—Crandell Lake. Though the Red Rock Parkway is closed to motor vehicles, you can bike or hike to the north trailhead via the Parkway and the Canyon Church Camp Road. The forest around Crandell Lake is burned, as is most of the Crandell Loop bike trail above the Akamina Parkway. But trails have been cleared and views opened by the fire.
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. Waterton’s Akamina Parkway is closed for the 2018 season, thereby limiting any access to the park via Akamina Pass.
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
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.
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
A new reservation system for core campgrounds (Lake Magog and Og Lake) is in effect for the summer 2018, replacing the old first-come, first-served system for these sites. See Reserving campsites in Mt Assiniboine for details.