Trail Conditions Update – May 1, 2017
Spring is in the air! This is transition time on the GDT. Valley bottom trails at lower elevations vary from bare and muddy to slushy and icy, while trails at higher elevation remain snowbound. With warmer weather, trail conditions can change quickly, from icy in the morning to slushy and slippery in the afternoon. Plan for varying conditions – warm layers, boots, snowshoes, cleats and/or poles are recommended.
SNOW: Snow levels are unusually high in the Rockies this spring. Avalanche conditions still exist, especially at higher elevations so always check the latest avalanche bulletins before setting out. For up to date snow level data in BC, check out the Snow Survey Bulletins and Commentaries which include links to the Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin and map. In Alberta, check out the ESRD’s Snow Data map.
TICKS: Tick season has started. 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.
- From Scarpe Pass (a24), 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 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 farther 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.
- 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.
- Akamina Parkway: Starting April 17, there will be no public access to Cameron Lake or the Carthew-Alderson trailhead until construction at Cameron Lake Day-Use Area is complete. Vehicle traffic will be stopped at the Little Prairie Day-Use Area. Visitors can travel on foot to the Akamina trailhead only via the Cameron Lake ski trail.
- 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.