Tonquin Valley - The Ramparts

Jasper National Park

Camping and Backcountry

in the
Gem of the Canadian Rockies

The Ramparts - Tonquin Valley

Jasper National Park is a ragged rectangle approximately 320 kilometres long and 90 kilometres wide at its widest point. Hikers and trail riders can take advantage of more than 1,200 kilometres of trails traversing mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. The northern portion of the park offers genuine wilderness seclusion while the southern half presents dramatic glacial scenery. Jasper National Park is considered by many to be the preeminent backpacking area in North America. The opportunities for hiking here are as numerous as the park is vast. Whether you prefer a short day hike or an extended wilderness hike in an isolated area of the park, Jasper National Park can accommodate your interests.

A permit is required for use of the backcountry in Jasper National Park. Some restrictions do apply to certain backcountry areas. Campers who use the backcountry trails in Jasper National Park now have the opportunity to reserve a campsite up to three months in advance. Parks Canada has implemented this system of advanced registration to allow campers to plan their backcountry trips with greater ease. Although reservations are not mandatory, it is a wise choice to use this system to avoid overbooking's as some trails are subject to quotas. Backcountry fees are $6 CDN per person per night to a maximum of $30. Youths under 16 travel for free. All fees are to be paid in advance. Annual wilderness passes are available for $42 and are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. Contact the Jasper Parks Visitor Centre for more information on this. +(780) 852-6176

SUMMER - Backcountry Hiking and Camping

Nothing can compare to exploring the Rocky Mountain backcountry for a few days on natures own terms. Jasper National Park offers a variety of wilderness areas to explore. Your backcountry trip can range from an over nighter to several days and more.

Some of the more popular trips include:

The Ramparts - Tonquin Valley

Tonquin Valley

A straight forward but fairly long approach leads to one of Canada's most magnificent views. Tonquin Valley will awe you. At an elevation of approximately 2000 metres (6500 Ft), and 33 kilometres southwest of Jasper, lies the beautiful Tonquin Valley and it's majestic Ramparts. There are three routes to travel into the Tonquin Valley. The Mount Edith Cavell route leads up the Astoria Valley, over a high alpland trail and down into the valley. The excitement builds up during the early stages of the morning, subsides at the half-way point, lunchtime, then rises again as the trail switchbacks under the gendarmes of Old Horn Mountain. As the alplands (lupine, gentian and heather) are crossed, the serrated Ramparts appear on the horizon, looming larger and higher with every step of the way. Then the view opens up . . . . . acres of flowers, Amethyst Lake, mighty glaciers and the main range of the precipitous Ramparts.
The Portal Creek trail rises to 2160 metres (7100 Ft) as it leads over the flowered alpine meadows of Maccarib Pass and follows the ripply meandering's of Maccarib Creek to the north end of Amethyst Lake. It starts at the junction of Portal Creek and the Marmot Road. The traveler of this route is almost certain to see the "Maccarib" which is the Indian name for Caribou. The Caribou in this area are among the darkest and largest of the species.
The Meadow Creek trail starts at Geikie and follows Meadow Creek. The trail is a real roller coaster of a trail and sometimes difficult to follow especially as it nears Tonquin. It is used mostly by climbers planning to camp below the peaks at the north end of the Ramparts, especially if assaults are aimed at the 3308 metre (10854 Ft) Mount Geikie. It is not a recommended route.
Either of the first two routes are excellent for travelling. They pass through spectacular scenery and end up at the World Famous Tonquin Valley. Once in the valley there is a variety of trails in the surrounding area to explore each of which has spectacular scenery. A true mountain wilderness experience.

Conquering the Notch - Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail

This mountain region is accessible via a truly spectacular trail crossing beautiful alpine meadows and ascending over several passes. Renownd for its scenery and resident wildlife, this area is resident to Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Caribou, Mountain Goats, Marmots and many others. Alpine wild flowers are in full bloom by late July and into August. The highest pass on the Skyline trail is called the Notch. From here the full skyline is visible as the route follows a safe but exposed ridge.
Some other interesting hikes include: Mount Fryatt, Nigel Pass, Jonas Pass, Jaques Lake, Mystery Lake

If you are new to backcountry hiking and camping or would just prefer to enjoy the wilderness in the comfort and safety of experienced hands, there are several guided hikes, trips and operators that you may choose from.

Visitors looking for a backcountry experience without the rigors of outdoor camping have several options open to them.

The world famous Tonquin Valley, with its Ramparts mountain range and the spectacular Amethyst Lakes, has two backcountry lodges and a nearby Alpine Club of Canada hut. Tonquin Valley Pack Trips and Ski Trips are available offering horse guided trips into the valley throughout the summer and accommodation for cross country skiers during the winter.

The Skyline trail has horseback trips ranging from 3 to 4 days. Shovel Pass is home to Jasper Park's oldest backcountry horse camp - The Shovel Pass Camp. For the slightly more energetic hikers wishing to hike the trail but without the burden of carrying any gear, they may have it packed into the Shovel Pass Camp on horseback. Private cabin accommodation is available here mid June to mid September.

The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), which operates huts for hikers and climbers, also have three other huts in Jasper National Park; Mt. Colin Hut, Fryatt Hut and Mount Alberta Hut. The ACC backcountry huts are rustic mountain shelters. Sleeping arrangements are in communal bunk rooms which are equipped with sleeping mattresses. Coleman stoves are used for cooking and coleman lanterns for light. The huts are well supplied and some have a wood burning stove. Reservations are required at all ACC facilities and are made through the national ACC office.

For more information on ACC huts,contact the Alpine Club of Canada at:
P.O. Box 2040
Canmore, Alberta
Canada, T0L 0M0

Ph# +(403) 678-3200
Fax# +(403) 6783224

Alpine Club of Canada
Alpine Club of Canada - Jasper / Hinton Area

Survival Tip - A compass is only as good as its owner. Knowing only that the needle points North will not solve many of your wilderness problems. If you own a compass, learn how to use it.

WINTER - There's Backcountry Trips in the Winter Too

Cross-country skiing or touring into the pristine backcountry is an invigorating way to spend a day or several to see the beauty of the park beyond, and it's also a terrific workout. You can ski into a remote hut that is equipped with a wood burning stove, coleman or propane cooking stove and cozy bunks or beds. Two of the Alpine Club of Canada backcountry huts in Jasper National Park are open in the winter. The Wates-Gibson Memorial Hut is located in Tonquin Valley and the Sydney Vallance Hut is in the Fryatt Valley.

Shangri-la, run by the Maligne Ski Club, is a skiers hut located in the Maligne Valley. It's open from December to April. For more information on this hut, write to: Bette Jeffery-Weir, P.O. Box 325, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, T0E 1E0.

Avalanche accidents are on the increase. Most are the result of avalanches triggered by the victim. Before you go, research the route and its hazards. Check the weather and avalanche danger.

Mountain & Backcountry Search & Rescue Emergency Phone Numbers

More Survival Tips - When tackling the backcountry in winter or summer, know what you are capable of doing and what you are not. Do not hike or ski alone. Leave word with someone about your destination and when you intend to return. Wear suitable clothing and footwear and carry suitable equipment.

Take Nothing But Photographs
Leave No Trace
Kill Nothing But Time

Some Short Trails and Walks Around Jasper & Area

Great trails are just a step away when you visit Jasper. Trail hiking is one of the best ways to get a real feel for the mountain region, offering wonderful wildlife viewing possibilities along with some spectacular views. There are a variety of hikes available but be sure you check out the degree of difficulty and distance before you set out. Always carry the appropriate gear.

Lac Beavert Loop ~ 3.5 km (2.2 mi.)
This is a pleasant stroll circling the crystal clear waters of Lac Beauvert on the grounds of Jasper Park Lodge. This is a prime elk area. The trail is accessible from the Jasper Park Lodge grounds or parking area at the end of the Old Fort Point road. (See Old Fort Point Loop for directions).

Lake Annette Loop ~ 2.4 km (1.5 mi.)
This trail skirts the shore of Lake Annette, another one of Jaspers sparkling lakes. The trail is paved and is ideal for wheel chairs and strollers. Lake Annette is also one of Jaspers finest swimming spots during the summer months. Take Highway 16 East from Jasper. Cross the bridge leading to the Jasper Park Lodge just outside of town and follow the signs.

Patricia Lake Loop ~ 4.8 km (3 mi.)
An easy walking loop trail skirting the shore of Patricia Lake and Cottonwood Slough. This area is an excellent area for spotting lots of wildlife such as Bear, Beaver, Deer and even Moose. It also offers some of the best birding in the Park. The trail starts from the Pyramid Stables parking lot on Pyramid Lake Road.

Old Fort Point Loop {Tail # 1 & 1A} ~ 6.5 km (4 mi.)
This is a short, moderately steep trail leading to the top of Old Fort Point. The view from here is excellent and the chances of spotting bighorn sheep are good. Take the alternate Highway 93A (across the tracks from town near the Esso Station) and turn left at the Old Fort Point exit after crossing Highway 16. Park just after crossing the bridge.

Pyramid Lake Loop {Trail # 2} ~ 17.4 km (11 mi.)
This trail brings you out onto the edge of Pyramid Bench. Here is the highlight of this walk were a wide open view of Athabasca Valley unfolds before your eyes. Hiking may be confusing as there are many unofficial trails in this area. Keep to the marked trails in this area. The trail starts from the Pyramid Stables just off of Pyramid Lake Road or at the parking lot across from the Jasper Aquatic Centre.

Marjorie & Caledonia Lakes {Trail # 3} ~ 2.3 km & 4.2 km (1.5 mi. & 2.6 mi.)
An easy walk to two of Jaspers peaceful lakes with occasional views of Athabasca and Miette Valleys. You might spot a black bear in this area. The trail starts at the parking lot at the west end of town just before the Cabin Creek West Subdivision along Pyramid Lake Road.

Mina Lake Loop ~ 9 km (5.6 mi.)
A nice little walk up to a moose and beaver area. Watch for these in a large pond adjacent to Mina Lake. The trail starts at the parking lot across from the Jasper Aquatic Centre.

River Canyon {Trail # 7} ~ 12.4 km one way (7.7 mi.)
You follow the banks of the Athabasca River for the first 8.3 km. This is a prime elk area. You then cross the Maligne Road and join the trail along the Maligne River which takes you up to Maligne Canyon. A little bit of climbing involved. The trail starts at Old Fort Point. (See the Old Fort Point Loop for directions).

Valley of the Five Lakes ~ 2.5 km one way (1.5 mi.)
An easy pleasant walk into bit of a valley with 5 lakes. A very popular walk or mountain bike ride. Take Highway 93 south 9 km. The trail starts on the left side of the highway about one kilometer after crossing the bridge over the Athabasca River.

This is only a few of the many hikes or walking areas around Jasper. There are many more trails that will take you into the mountains, lead you to spectacular sights and beautiful lakes. Drop into or contact the Jasper Parks Visitor Centre for more information. +(780) 852-6176

Wild animals in Jasper National Park are WILD, even in the urban settings. They may appear friendly and tame, but are upredictable and potentially dangerous.

Many of the areas around Jasper are prime elk habitat areas. These elk can be dangerous so keep your distance. Watch out for female elk during calving season (May & June) and male elk during mating season (Sept. & Oct.) They are particularly dangerous during these times.

Black bears are dangerous animals as well. They are unpredictable and may attack, particularly if the bear has cubs nearby. Keep your distance; at least 50 metres (150 feet) from these.

Other large animals to be aware of are moose, deer and bison. They can become aggressive if approached. Maintain a distance of 30 metres (100 feet) from these.

Be aware, it is against the law and irresponsible to feed the wildlife in Jasper National Park.

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