Rockies Insider Guide: Jasper Intermediate and Advanced Hikes

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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If you’re an intermediate or advanced hiker planing a trip out the Jasper National Park for the first time, we can imagine your dilemma. Jasper is enormous, with 1,200 km of trails, and is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies, with more than 10,000 square kilometers.

Jasper hiking expert Peter Amann.

So the question you’re probably asking yourself, as you peruse guide books and search for info, is “Which hikes do I do?” You certainly can’t to it all. To help you get a handle on the situation, interviewed Peter Amann to get some expert tips on the best intermediate and advanced hiking in the Jasper area for people of all levels.

Since 1992, Amann has been the president of the Jasper section of the Alpine Club, Canada’s official mountaineering organization. He’s also a Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certified guide, and has been guiding hikes, mountaineering and backpacking tours in the Canadian Rockies for 25 years, and helps the Canadian military with search and rescue training.

So it’s safe to say that Amann is an expert in the field of finding the best Jasper National Park offers. Here are his trail suggestions for moderate and advanced hikers in Jasper.

Wilcox Pass was first on the list of Amann’s intermediate Jasper hikes.

“That’s one of the more spectacular hikes in the area,” he says. “You get a great view of the Columbia Icefields area, the peaks of the Columbia Icefields area, the Athabasca Glacier and Mt. Athatbasca. You’re out of the trees. You’re starting at sub alpine and climbing into the alpine.”

Along the way, he says, you’ll also get the chance to see mountain goats, sheep, lots of wildflowers and “spectacular views of the Sunwapta area.”

The hike is about 8 km, and can take between 3 and 4 hours to complete. You’ll find this trail about 3 km south of the Icefields Centre on Icefields Parkway.

Amann notes that. “It’s a popular hike, and rightly so.”

Next on Amann’s list was Geraldine lake. “It’s a mostly uphill trail, and bouldery.”

According to Amann, it offers great views of the surrounding peaks and lakes of Jasper National Park. The hike is a 12 km round trip, for a 4 to 6 hour hike. To get there head south on Icefields Parkway about 7km then turn right on Highway 93A. Take 93A 23 km to Geraldine Lakes road, turning right and winding your way up the rough road for 6km before reaching this Jasper Hike’s trailhead.

Hidden Valley is another on Amann’s list. According to Amann: “It’s a great little box canyon you can go into, and within an hour or two you can gain a small summit with really nice views of the eastern slopes. If someone wanted to do something a little more agressive but didn’t want to pound all day, that would be a good one.”

You’ll find this hike 36 km north of Jasper toward the town of Hinton. Hiking length really depend how much time you want to spend in the valley.

For advanced hikers, Amann says, “I would start getting them into something a little bit more scrambly. Scrambling is something more in the alpine, maybe a little bit of rock. Nothing technical, where they use their hands a bit more.”

He says some of the best of these are on the eastern side of the park on mountains like Cinqfoil and Hawk Mountain.

Amann especially recommends Old Man Mountain.

“It’s a good stiff hike that requires some scrambling,” says Amann. “For fit, strong hikers, Old Man is a good one. You get awesome views of the town site… the Maligne Valley, and west toward Mt. Robson.

This hike is about 11 km, and takes between 5 and 7 hours to complete. To get to it, you’ll need to catch an unmarked trail near Maligne Lake. To get good directions to this trail, stop in at a Parks Canada office and inquire, or hire a tour guide to take you on this hike.

Get a great view of Jasper National Park and the town with our Jasper webcam. Also, see Amann’s advice on easy Jasper hikes.

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