Hiking Vacation in the Canadian Rockies

We had just arrived in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies and headed to the park office for trail information. While there we learned that bears had been sighted on the trail we going to tackle the next morning. Our plan was to stay in Jasper for a few nights and go on a series of day hikes.

We left for the Sulphur Skyline trail early as our internal clocks were still on a different time zone. Just prior to reaching the parking lot there was, of course, a black bear wandering along the middle of the road who conveniently wandered to the side. We were the first in the parking lot that day and headed up the mountain a little nervous about the bears with my friend singing and blowing a whistle from time to time to let them know we were in the area. At the time weren’t sure whether we were to advertise our presence to any bears or not.

It took us a good portion of the day to reach the top with plenty of switchbacks and scrambling along the way. I am not a fan of scrambling which is where you are walking over small very loose rocks making for very slow progress. However the views from the top were amazing and well worth the effort and other hikers soon joined us at the top as we enjoyed our lunch. I would judge this to be moderate level hike.

To maximize are short time in Jasper we stopped at Maligne Canyon, to follow the trail as it twists and turns. Lots of tourists on this route which is really easy with a great restaurant at the end to relax. There are plenty of options available in the Jasper area including the Old Fort Point Trail, Valley of the Five Lakes and Edith Cavell where we saw an active glacier. Even though we were there in late June parts of this trail were still blocked off due to severe ice conditions.

Hiking in the Canadian RockiesOur rental car took us along the Icefields Highway to Lake Louise. The popular route that everybody must do and does is along shores of Lake Louise (see photo). For a more moderate climb which is far less crowded head to the tea room in the mountains. Just past the tea room we were almost alone on the trails and they did become more challenging. Again some sections were a bit icy but well worth it for the view. My friend was a bit nervous as we walked down and into the Chateau Lake Louise in our hiking clothes for a drink, but I think the hotel staff are quite used to that.

We continued our week long vacation heading to Banff. But first, we met some friends who were heading on the Lake Minnewanka Trail to a reserved campsite in the wilderness where they were spending the night outdoors. We headed back right after lunch so they could erect their tent and set up their cooking fire.

On the way back we came to a wooden foot bridge across a deep river ravine with a big horn sheep walking across the bridge. Some other people with young kids came from the other side and not thinking headed across the bridge trapping the animal. We quickly backed so and it just shot past us at full speed. The next day was up the popular Johnson Canyon trail well past where the typical tourists go to see the ink spots, a series of colorful small ponds on the rocks.

A big issue each day is deciding which trail to tackle in the Canadian Rockies, at least I have been fortunate enough to have visited this area on a number of occasions and am always impressed by the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and how different each of the trails is.

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