Trail Conditions Update – June 27, 2018
It’s transition time on the GDT. Valley bottom trails at lower elevations vary from bare and dry to wet and muddy, while many trails at higher elevation are still snow covered. With warmer weather, trail conditions can change quickly so plan for varying conditions – boots, cleats and/or poles are recommended.
SNOW: For up to date snow level data in BC, check out the Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletins or the Automated Snow Weather Station Map. In Alberta, check out the Alberta River Basins map (turn on the snow pillow layer).
CREEKS: Rapid snow melt during this time of year results in high water levels and potentially dangerous creek crossings, particularly later in the day. Attempt to ford larger creeks early in the day when water levels are lowest.
ELK CALVING SEASON: May 15 to June 30. Protective mother elk will aggressively protect their newborns by kicking and charging at people. Stay at least 30 metres away from all elk during this time of year. Pay attention to trail closures in known elk calving areas.
TICKS: Tick season has started. Long pants tucked into your socks are recommended. Be extra careful when in areas with a lot of underbrush and check yourself and your clothing after your hike.
BEARS: With spring’s arrival, bears are leaving their dens in search of food. Be bear aware on the trails this spring, make noise and carry bear spray.
CAMPFIRE BANS: Currently the only campfire ban on the GDT is within Jasper National Park. Elsewhere if you must have a campfire in the backcountry, ensure you follow the rules.
- Due to the Kenow wildfire, many trails and backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park and Akamina Kishinena Provincial Park remain closed. The GDT is closed from the Carthew-Alderson trail junction (a3) to Sage Pass (a17). The Lakeshore Trail has re-opened but since the remaining portions of the GDT within Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed, Font Creek Trail is the Alternate Southern Terminus of the GDT in 2018.
- Trail 7 near Jasper is closed to hikers south of the junction with Trail 7e and north of the junction with Trail 7a due to grizzly and black bears frequenting the area next to the golf course. Detour by taking Trail 7e towards Trefoil Lakes and Trail 7b south to Old Fort Point trailhead. Equestrian uses can still use Trail 7 but are not to dismount.
- Numa Creek Trail (Rockwall access trail) remains closed due to wash out of the bridge over the Vermilion River. The pedestrian bridge is being replaced with an estimated opening date in August 2018.
- Tumbling Creek Trail (Rockwall access trail) is closed from the Ochre Creek trail to the intersection of the Rockwall Trail before the Tumbling bridge due to a missing bridge at km 6.6.
- The Elysium Pass, Virl, Dorothy and Christine Lakes trailhead is closed during construction of the Meadow Creek Bridge, expected to continue until November 2018. During this time, the Marjorie-Dorothy Lakes Alternate Route and Elysium Pass Alternate Route will not be accessible from this trailhead.
- Approximately 35 km of the GDT was burned by the Kenow Wildfire between Bertha Bay campground and Font Creek (a19). Some trails that have been damaged by wildfire may require environmental analysis or heavier engineering, and closures could be in place for many months, for the health of the trail and the surrounding landscapes as well as the safety of hikers and volunteers. The GDTA will continue to monitor and assess the condition of these damaged trails and provide updates as they become available. The Lakeshore Trail has re-opened but since the remaining portions of the GDT within Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed, Font Creek Trail is the Alternate Southern Terminus of the GDT in 2018.
- From Scarpe Pass (a24), the trail disappears so hikers must route-find up to La Coulotte Ridge, where the hiking becomes significantly more difficult until you reach the ATV track (a27) heading down to the West Castle Road.
- Leroy Creek has washed out approximately 100m of the trail obscuring the location of the creek ford. Look for cairns on either side of the creek marking the crossing.
- A windstorm blew through Yoho National Park in July 2017 resulting in many blown down trees. On the Ottertail Trail, there are several debris fields with fallen trees across the trail near Goodsir Pass (c36) but these are fairly easy to get around. On the Amiskwi Trail, about 1 km from the trailhead (d1), there are dozens of trees blow down across the trail that are more challenging to get around.
- Cairnes Creek (d9): The bridge is washed out making this a potentially dangerous ford. There are 2 large trees down across the creek allowing hikers to cross. If these trees wash away, it is recommended to ford the creek early in the morning when glacial melt is lowest.
- The damaged Lambe Creek bridge (d10) was removed in September 2015. It is recommended to ford downstream where the creek is wider and shallower, and cross early in the morning when glacial melt is lowest.
- The Howse Pass Trail from Conway Creek (d12) to the Glacier Lake trail junction (d14) is in very poor condition. The trail is overgrown, with hundreds of wind-fallen trees across the trail. Hiking in the Howse River floodplain is highly recommended when the river is low enough to safely ford.
- The Owen Creek Trail was cleared in July 2015 up to km 6 but there has been some new deadfall since then. Beyond that point, the trail is in poor shape with several washed out sections. Expect challenging hiking for 3 km including skirting along steep creek-side cliffs and rock-hopping in the creek itself. At km 6, do not take the trail heading up away from the creek (it is a deadend). Look for orange blazes marking the correct route staying near the creek.
- The Maligne Pass trail in Jasper National Park has been decommissioned and is in poor shape. The trail from Pobokton Creek (e20) to Maligne Lake (e25, approx 42 km) is no longer being maintained by Parks Canada so expect deteriorating and overgrown trail conditions; long pants are recommended. The Maligne River bridge has been removed but the river can be easily forded in normal summer conditions (knee deep in mid-summer). Most other bridges are still in place. The Six Passes Route is a cross-country alternative to the overgrown trail.
- The Yates Torrent Bridge is out at the crossing of the Coleman Glacier outflow (near f16). Do not attempt to cross at the old bridge location. There are two options: (1) ford the Smoky River in the floodplain; or (2) ford Yates Torrent approximately 500m upstream (location was flagged in 2017). At both locations attempt to cross early in the morning when glacial melt is the lowest or be prepared for a fast and potentially dangerous creek ford.
- The bridges across Gendarme and Carcajou Creeks are out on the Jasper North Boundary Trail. These two creeks are smaller than the Smoky River, but can still be treacherous. Cross Gendarme at the horse crossing just below the old bridge (marked), and Carcajou about 100m below the trail.
- The bridge across Buchanan Creek on the trail to Kakwa Lake, has been removed. The crossing here can be hazardous early in the year or after heavy rains.
- Akamina Parkway and Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park are closed.
- For more information, check out Alberta 511 and Drive BC.