Trail Conditions Update – September 23, 2015
TRAILS: Fall is here! Expect snow above 1500 metres, some wet and slippery trail conditions, and night and early morning temperatures below freezing.
ELK RUTTING SEASON WARNING: It is elk rutting season until mid-October. Warning signs that read “ATTENTION – Elk Mating” have been posted at areas where elk herds often gather. Be aware that bull elk become extremely aggressive during rutting season so keep at least 30 metres away from all elk and never get between a male and female elk.
WILDFIRE UPDATES: There are no fire bans on the GDT. Campfires are permitted in designated fire pits.
- Elk Lakes Provincial Park: Extensive repairs and construction on the trail between Lower and Upper Elk Lakes to be carried out throughout 2015 hiking season. Detour to West Elk Pass by taking the Elkan Creek trail from the parking lot trailhead. Lower Elk Lake campground is still accessible but hikers are asked to exercise caution in this area during construction.
- Banff National Park: Og Pass trail and Upper Assiniboine Pass trail within Banff National Park are closed from August 1 to September 30, to increase public safety, and to minimize displacement of grizzly bears from prime food sources at a critical time of the year. Hikers are permitted to access Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park via the lower Assiniboine Pass trail or the Wonder Pass trail.
- Waterton Lakes National Park: Special caution is recommended while travelling or camping in the Waterton townsite as a black bear is frequenting the area and has obtained unsecured human food. Be prepared to encounter a bear at anytime in and around this area. (04SEP2015)
- Jasper National Park: A grizzly bear is frequenting the Skyline Trail and campgrounds in the area. Extra caution and bear spray is recommended when hiking in this area. Please report all bear sightings to 780-852-6155. (1SEP2015)
- Jasper National Park: The Brazeau Loop, Nigel Pass and Poboktan Creek trails are open but a bear warning is in effect. Two grizzly bears have broken into cabins along the South Boundary trail to access horse feed. While they are no longer appearing at cabins and have not shown aggression to people, they may return to the area. Recommendations to minimize the potential of a bear encounter: Travel in tight groups of 4 or more; make noise to alert bears of your presence; carry bear spray; and keep a clean campsite, secure all food and garbage on designated bear cables or in bear storage lockers. Please report all bear sightings to 780-852-6155. (30JUL2015)
- The trail from Sage Pass (a17) to Scarpe Pass (a24) was cleared and blazed last year and is in good shape. From Scarpe Pass, the trail disappears up to La Coulotte Ridge and the hiking becomes significantly more difficult until you reach the ATV track (a27) heading down to the West Castle Road.
- The Aldridge Creek Trail between Fording River Pass (b31) and the Kananaskis Power Line Road (b32) was cleared and restored in July 2015.
- Cairnes Creek (d9): The bridge is washed out making this a potentially dangerous ford. It is recommended to cross early in the morning when glacial melt is lowest.
- The Lambe Creek bridge (d10) is badly damaged so it is recommended to ford the creek further downstream and avoid using the broken bridge.
- The Howse Pass Trail from Conway Creek (d12) to the Glacier Lake trail junction (d14, 15 km) 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 a viable alternative if the Howse River is low enough to ford.
- The Owen Creek Trail was cleared in July 2015 up to km 5. 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. Read Nathan Dahl’s August 30, 2015 Maligne Pass trail update here.
- The Yates Torrent Bridge is gone at the crossing of the Coleman Glacier outflow (near f16) so attempt to cross early in the morning when glacial melt is the lowest or be prepared for a fast and dangerous creek ford. Thanks to Christine Friesen for the update!
ACCESS TRAIL CLOSURES:
- Kootenay National Park – Due to washed out bridges, access to Numa Creek Falls and Trail remains closed.
Access Roads Update:
- Construction work on Highway 40 continues from south of the winter gate to Junction Highway 541; expect delays.
- Access to the northern terminus of the GDT in Kakwa Provincial Park is via the Walker Creek Forest Service Road. The Walker Creek FSR has been repaired from Highway 16 to km 33.5. While travelling the remaining 50 kilometres on the Walker Creek FSR, attention is required to navigate the surface as it is uneven, rutted, slippery and very rough. The road is not recommended for anything other than a 4×4 high clearance vehicle. The last 10km from Bastille Creek to Buchanan Creek are particularly rough and muddy and might not be driveable by vehicle so be prepared to walk this distance on foot. Thanks to Canadoug for the update!
- The Elk River FSR will be closed periodically at 123km, 142km, and 145km for bridge replacements between September 1 to September 30. Use the Round Prairie FSR (4WD required) on the east side of the Elk River as a detour.
- The Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park is closed for the season until approximately May 2016 to allow for reconstruction of the parkway and the lower parking lot at Red Rock Canyon.