Trail Conditions Update – April 30, 2016
Spring is in the air! This is transition time on the GDT. Hiking trails at lower elevations vary from bare and muddy to slushy and icy, while trails at higher elevation remain snowbound with potential avalanche risk. Trails can be icy in the morning but warmer daytime temperatures are creating slushy and slippery conditions. Plan for varying conditions – warm layers and snowshoes, cleats and/or poles are recommended.
Spring avalanche conditions still exist, especially at higher elevations so always check the latest avalanche bulletins before setting out.
Tick season has started. Be extra careful when in areas with a lot of underbrush and check yourself and your clothing after your hike.
- Jasper National Park – Trail #7 is closed to hikers at the junction with Trail #7e to the junction with Trail #7a due to grizzly and black bears frequenting the area. Detour is available by taking Trail #7e to Mildred Lake where you can follow the Beauvert Lake Trail or Athabasca River Trail to reach the Old Fort Point bridge (e34).
- The trail from Sage Pass (a17) to Scarpe Pass (a24) was cleared and blazed in August 2014 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 damaged Lambe Creek bridge (d10) was removed in September 2015. It is recommended to ford the creek further downstream.
- 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 6. 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 out at the crossing of the Coleman Glacier outflow (near f16). Do not attempt to cross at the old bridge location. Instead, ford the Smoky River further down the valley. 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, near the Kakwa Lake trailhead, has been removed. The crossing here can be hazardous early in the year or after heavy rains. In 2015, a gravel bar about 50 metres across the creek upstream provided the best crossing.
- Annual Winter Closure of Highway 40 from the Kananaskis Lakes Trail to the junction of Highway 541 between December 1 and June 15.
- 8:00 pm to 8:00 am closure of the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) from March 1 to June 25 on the 17 kilometre section of the parkway from Johnston Canyon Campground to the Fireside Picnic Area, to reduce disturbance and increase habitat security for sensitive wildlife species during critical times.
- The Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park is closed to allow for reconstruction of the parkway and the lower parking lot at Red Rock Canyon. Starting May 6 until June 17, 2016, the Red Rock Parkway will reopen for public use on weekends only, from 2:00pm Friday until 4:00pm Sunday. Full re-opening will occur on June 17, 2016.
- Due to the construction at Cameron Lake Day-Use Area from April to November 2016, the Cameron Lake Day-Use Area and Akamina Parkway will be closed to all traffic – including pedestrians and cyclists. Parks Canada is pursuing a complimentary shuttle service for hikers to safely access trailheads for the duration of the work. Some trailheads along the parkway may be temporarily closed for reconfiguration and then reopened sequentially as work is completed throughout the summer. The Carthew-Alderson Trail will remain open. For more information and updates, check out Parks Canada’s website.
- 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 40 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 is closed due to washouts and is not driveable by vehicle so be prepared to walk this distance on foot.