Across the River – Jasper, Alberta (Canada)
By John Crawford
Senior Writer/Jasper National Park
JASPER, ALBERTA (CANADA) – These Jasper, Alberta trail routes lie on the east side of the Athabasca River, across from town. Reach them by going east on Highway 16 for 1.9 km to the Moberly Bridge, or south on Highway 93A for 0.6 km, then left to cross the river on the Old Fort Point bridge.
Old Fort Point Loop
Trail 1, 3.5 km return (1-2 hours)
Trailhead: From town or from Highway 16, follow Highway 93A to the Old Fort Point/Lac Beauvert access road. Turn left, cross the Athabasca River on the old iron bridge, then park in the lot on the right. Distance to the trailhead from town: 1.6 km.
Old Fort Point is a prominent bedrock hill standing 130 m above the river. Rounded on its south side, cliffy on its north side, Old Fort Point is a classic roche moutonnée: a bedrock knob shaped by glaciers. The loop trail over the top is steep in places, but it provides an excellent view of Jasper and its surroundings.
The name Old Fort probably refers to Henry House, a North West Company cabin built near here in 1811, now gone but commemorated as a National Historic Site.
The quickest route to the big view at the top of the hill is up the stairs that start by the cliff. (The stairs lead to a Canadian Heritage Rivers plaque about the Athabasca.) But it’s a steep climb. Instead, we recommend the wide, easy path that begins behind the trail information kiosk. Follow Trail 1 up a short hill and on through the woods.
At 1.3 km you climb a very steep section30 m of elevation gain in a short distancebeside an outcrop of the oldest rock in Jasper National Park. The layer is Precambrian, about 750 million years old. Take a close look at this unusual rock. It’s breccia, made of angular chunks of pink limestone.
Here’s what you can see from the top of Old Fort Point on a good day, viewing clockwise: Mt. Edith Cavell (always snow-streaked) to the south, The Whistlers (mountain with the tramway terminal near the top) to the southwest, the valley of the Miette River leading west toward Yellowhead Pass and B.C., the town of Jasper across the Athabasca River, the reddish quartzite of the Victoria Cross Range to the northwest beyond the town (the peak with a microwave relay station on top is Pyramid Mountain), Lac Beauvert and Jasper Park Lodge to the north (other lakes visible northward: Annette and Edith), the gray limestone of the Colin Range to the northeast, rounded Signal Mountain and the cliffs of Mt. Tekarra to the east, and to the southeast, Mt. Hardisty (sloping layers) and Mt. Kerkeslin (layers bowed gently down).
Jasper Park Lodge to Maligne Canyon
Trails 7e and 7, 7 km one way (2-3 hours)
Trailhead: Visitor parking at Jasper Park Lodge.
This is a long route, mainly in the woods, with a fair bit of uphill. It’s used mostly by cyclists. From the northeast corner of the parking lot, follow the yellow 7e markers to the junction with Trail 7. Three kilometres of easy walking or cycling through a mixed forest of lodgepole pine, spruce and old-growth Douglas-fir brings you to a marsh near a junction with the Lake Edith gated road. Stay on Trail 7 as it swings right and begins the climb to the upper parking lot at Maligne Canyon.
From Maligne Canyon, cyclists can use Trail 7h to bypass the hiker-only section of Trail 7. Horses should take Trail 7f. Both can rejoin 7 and follow it to Sixth Bridge. The route loops back to Jasper Park Lodge along the Athabasca River. Total loop distance: 16 km.
Trails 7g and 7, 2.1 km one way (1-2 hours)
Trailhead: Fifth Bridge, 8 km east of Jasper via Highway 16 and the Maligne Road.
The Maligne Canyon section of Trail 7 provides the best views of Jasper’s famous limestone gorge. Cross the suspension bridge over the Maligne River and keep right at all intersections as you work your way up the canyon, gaining 100 m. (You can start at the top and walk down the canyon trail, but the views are better if you’re facing up-canyon.) Water gushes from springs along the way; interpretive signs explain how Maligne Canyon is connected to Medicine Lake, 15 km away, by a cave system.
Keep right at Second Bridge, leaving Trail 7 to follow the short un-numbered interpretive path past the spectacular waterfall at the head of the canyon to the main parking lot.
Lake Annette Loop
(Clifford E. Lee Wheelchair Trail) Trail 4b, 2.4 km
Trailhead: take Highway 16 east for 1.9 km and turn right onto the Maligne Road. Angle right onto Lodge Road, then turn left at the sign for Lake Annette. Keep right at major intersections to reach the western parking lot for the Lake Annette picnic area. The trail begins on the right side of the lot.
This short loop trail is paved and mostly level, designed especially for wheelchair use. Bicycles are not allowed. There are wheelchair-accessible toilets at two locations, and there’s a shelter halfway round the loop. Signs placed at wheelchair height explain the scenery.
All trail users please note
Share the trail. Treat other users with courtesy and respect.
Stay on the trail. Short-cutting and going around mudholes or snow damages trailside vegetation.
Choose a trail that matches your ability. Reading this guide will help, as will asking park staff or outdoor-shop employees.
Some trails are restricted to pedestrians only.
Creating new trails without authorization is not allowed.
Be prepared! Jasper National Park is a wilderness area. Caution and self-reliance are essential.