Camping the Rockies: Jasper 2-night Backcountry

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010

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Jasper National Park offers some of the widest open terrain in the Rockies, with mile and miles of trails, forests, mountains, lakes and other sights to see. The park has lots of lodging options, and one of the best of these is camping. There are plenty of campgrounds near the main roads, but if you want to get out and see Jasper’s backcountry, you should really hike out and do some camping.

How about waking up to this view on your Jasper vacation?

Below you’ll find a selection of two-night backpacking and camping trips you can do in Jasper National Park.

Jacques Lake

Jacques Lake is a good choice for novice hikers in Jasper National Park. The trailhead is at the south end of beautiful Medicine Lake, 28 km from Jasper townsite. It’s a fairly easy hike. The trail begins with a walk along a fire road for 1.6 km to Beaver Lake. The remaining 10.4 km follow a easy to find trail to the campsite at the far end of Jacques Lake. Note: Camping is not permitted at Beaver Lake. Fishing is not permitted at Jacques Lake.

  • Map: Medicine Lake 83C/13.
  • Distance: 12 km one way.
  • Elevation gain: 90 m.
  • Maximum elevation: 1555 m.

Geraldine Lakes

Geraldine Lakes is a bit more difficult of a trail, with a quick elevation gain partway in, but it’s well worth the effort. Access to the trailhead is from the Geraldine fire road, just north of Athabasca Falls on Highway 93A. The parking area is 6 km up the fire road. The initial 2 km of this trail are easy, traveling a clear path to the first of the Geraldine Lakes. This is where it gets a little more breathtaking, both due to the scenery and steepness, with each step. Here the trail climbs along a waterfall, crosses a large boulder field and skirts the edge of a small glacial lake (known as a tarn). Then it gets even steeper. You’ll reach the only campsite at the far end of the second lake. Good hiking boots and endurance requirements for this trip. Note: Finding the trail among the boulder field can be tricky; therefore this trail is not recommended for beginners. No open fires.

  • Map: Athabasca Falls 83C/12.
  • Elevation gain: 400 m.
  • Maximum elevation: 1875 m.
  • Distance: 6 km one way.

Saturday Night Lake Loop

This is a great beginners’ trail, partly because it has little elevation gain, partly because it starts and ends in the Jasper townsite. Campsites are at Saturday Night Lake, High Lakes and Minnow Lake. Note: Seasonal fishing in all lakes except Cabin Lake.

  • Map: Jasper 83D/16.
  • Distance: 27.5 km.
  • Elevation gain: 540 m
  • Maximum elevation: 1700 m.

Watchtower Basin

Love steep climbs, creek fording and terrific views? The Watchtower trailhead starts about 19 km from Jasper townsite on Maligne Road. A steep climb leads to an flower-filled (depending on the time of year, of course) alpine meadow. Hikers get to ford the main creek to reach the campsite. Access to the Skyline trail is 3.5 km beyond the campsite. Note: Route finding is a bit difficult between the campsite and Skyline trail.

  • Map: Medicine Lake 83C/14.
  • Distance: 9.8 km one way.
  • Elevation gain: 985 m.
  • Maximum elevation 2375 m.
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