The Canadian Rockies are a hikers paradise, particularly for summit chasers. With Canada opening the gates to its’ National Parks in 2017, now is the time to start planning. You can live there for months (six, in my case) and still not even come close to hiking them all, so I’m here to help you narrow it down.
Few hikes end with panoramic mountain views that rival this one. The trail is steep, but the path is well defined, which makes the one and a half hour climb far easier to manage. The best part? The trailhead starts right next to Miette Hotsprings so once you’re back from soaking in the view, you can relax your tired muscles.
Hands down, this was my favourite trail. It’s got everything: crystal-blue glacier fed lakes, dense forest, majestic waterfalls. Not only that, you can make it suit you. Are you a day tripper? Great! Make it to Kinney Lake (think Lake Louise without the crowds) or if you’re up for a challenge, to Emperor Falls. Love to camp? Perfect! Camp overnight, or two, and get all the way to Berg Lake. More of a mountain biker? Fantastic! Bikes are allowed along the first 7.2km, just passed Kinney Lake.
If you’re trying to shake other tourists, this one is for you. It’s just off the Icefields Parkway about 15 minutes drive south of Sunwapta Falls, but still pretty hard to find. The small roadside parking area is marked only by a small wooden post with a smaller picture of a hiking man on it, but when you do find it you won’t be disappointed. The path takes you beside a series of cataracts providing beauty every step of the way, until about an hour later it opens onto Stanley Falls.
Want a view of the popular Athabasca Glacier without the price tag? Here’s your alternative. The path starts steep, gaining about 120 metres in less than a kilometre through the forest, but then it opens to flat, rocky terrain, quite unique from other hikes in Jasper. Take a breather at Parks Canada’s red chairs to look across at the glacier before moving on to the pass. Lakes, wildflowers and goats can all be found here.
Speaking of wildflowers, the Meadow Trail at Mt Edith Cavell can’t be missed. An easy 15 minute walk will take you to Angel Glacier viewpoint, a glacier shaped like (you guessed it) an angel, hanging over a misty blue lake that stays frozen even in the height of summer. But for even better views and a better workout, take the meadow trail up to the mountains peak. In summer, you’ll be hiking through fields of wildflowers, but come September snow covers the ground for a whole different type of beauty.
Hoards of tourists make Lake Louise difficult to enjoy, but if you manage to push your way through them stunning views and warm tea awaits. A hanging valley high about Lake Louise hides the much smaller Lake Agnes from view until you reach it. Sit on the wooden balcony of the rustic teahouse, refuelling with tea and scones while looking out over Lake Louise and the Bow Valley before heading back.
This is the ultimate badge of honour for backcountry enthusiasts. This 44km, three to four day hike follows along the crest of the Maligne Range, making it the highest trail in Jasper National Park. This of course means the weather is unpredictable and cold even in summer, but prepared adventurers are rewarded with unparalleled views and bragging rights.
Few tourists realise, but the trail at Sunwapta Falls goes far beyond the falls themselves. This fairly flat hike opens up onto a bend in the glacier fed Sunwapta River, surrounded by mountains and forests. Get it all done in half a day, or camp overnight. Just be prepared with the mozzie spray.
These are the oldest and deepest canyons in all of Canada so it’s no surprise they’re popular, but tourist trap they’re not. The trail takes you 3.7km over six bridges that cross over this impressive limestone canyon. Each is as beautiful as the next, but few people ever hike its entire length, and they’re missing out! Canyon flattens to iconic bright blue river and just a little off-path exploring provides pretty spectacular forested valley views.
Make sure you’re reading up on any hike before you set off on your way. Always follow the National Park’s rules and take care of one another. Happy hiking!