Maligne Pass Trail Update

Update from Nathan Dahl, Association of Canadian Mountain Guides:

I just got back from the decommissioned Maligne Pass trail, coming in at the Sunwapta Station and exiting at Maligne Lake. The trail alongside Poboktan Creek is in excellent shape and you should expect no difficulties. After you hit the Poboktan / Poligne junction and head upstream, you will cross 7 small bridges before reaching Avalanche Campground. All bridges are still in place although the 5th bridge is quite damaged and should be used with caution. Avalanche camp is in good shape with 4 bear hang cables, a green throne, 2 fire pits & tables, and three generally good tent pads, although they are starting to becoming quite rounded over.

From Avalanche camp heading to the pass, the trail is faint but easy to follow until just after the 8th and final bridge over the Poligne. At that point the trail is quite good all the way down to Mary Vaux Camp. Mary Vaux camp was the same as Avalanche camp in regards to bear hangs, tent pads, etc.

The trail deteriorates past Mary Vaux camp, becoming occasionally faint through the forest and with a moderate amount of deadfall on the trail. Some of the drainages coming off Llysfran Peak & Mt. Unwin have washed out the trail but it is easy to pick up on the other side. About 1 km away from Schaffer Camp we entered a large meadow of willows about shoulder height, which we continued to hike through on and off through the remainder of the trip. A good argument for long pants. The trail in these sections is well rutted so while it’s not easily visible, just follow your feet. About 800 metres south of Schaffer camp the trail appears to ford the Maligne River. Instead, hike about 50 metres downstream on the same side of the river, and the trail will reappear in the willows to your right, heading towards a small rise of land. Schaffer camp is in fair shape, although one of the tables is missing some planks.

The bridge over the Maligne River about 4 km north of Schaffer camp is washed away so this will require a ford. Rather than fording at the old bridge site where the signage still directs you, we forded about 100 metres downstream where the river is a little wider. At the time and point of our crossing the river was only 30 cm deep and presented no difficulty. The trail is also significantly damaged in the drainage around GR591355. However there is some modest signage on either side to help you along.

Finally, Trapper Creek campsite is in good shape but two of the bear hang cables are missing clips so you may want to bring an accessory carabiner. The bridge over Trapper Creek is also damaged but passable.

All signage is still in place. No wildlife sighted but lots of elk, deer and bear tracks and scat along the trail and in the campsites. A very beautiful and historic trail to hike if you get the opportunity.

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