Trails Close to Jasper, Alberta (Canada)
By John Crawford
Senior Writer/Jasper National Park
JASPER, ALBERTA (CANADA) – There are a lot of excellent trails located near Jasper, Alberta. The trail routes described below are on the Pyramid Bench, a lake-dotted terrace adjacent to Jasper, that is a popular destination to visit while on vacation to Canada.
Getting To and From – Trails near Jasper, Alberta
Do not fret is you have no car because these trails are easily reached on foot from town.
Cottonwood Creek and Pyramid Lake loops
Trails 2 and 2a, 3.8 km return (1-2 hours) or 2 and 2b, 17.4 km return (5-7 hours)
Trailheads : Jasper Activity Centre parking lot (in town, near start of Pyramid Lake Road), Cottonwood Slough parking lot (2 km up Pyramid Lake Road), Pyramid Stables (3.5 km) or Pyramid Lake (end of road).
From town, Trail 2 begins with a steady climb of 60m onto the Pyramid Bench, with a good view of the town along the way. Crossing the gated road to Cabin Lake, Trail 2 continues to the Cottonwood Slough parking lot and crosses the Pyramid Lake Road. Shortly past Cottonwood Creek, you reach a junction with Trail 2a. Turning right onto 2a takes you back to the north end of town along the creek, for a short walk of 1 to 2 hours.
To continue to Pyramid Lake, follow Trail 2 past the junction with Trail 6a and angle right onto Trail 2b. Soon the path climbs across an open hillside, giving you the first of many fine views of the Athabasca Valley.
Trail 2b follows the edge of the Pyramid Bench for 2km. You may see bighorn sheep grazing on the grassy slopes below you. The forest is mostly old-growth Douglas-fir, an evergreen easily identified by its furrowed bark.
After the junction with Trail 2h, Trail 2b begins a steady climb of 120 m along a wooded ridge with openings that offer exceptional views. This scenic section is known as the Pyramid Overlook. The trail descends to the Pyramid Lake parking lot, where it rejoins Trail 2.
For the return leg of the loop, follow Trail 2 beside the Pyramid Lake Road. The path goes behind a motel and through the woods for 1.5 km to the complicated stables area, where you need to follow the markers carefully. Cross the large parking lot there and find the continuation of Trail 2 at the far corner. Half a kilometre later you’ll close the loop, 2.5 km from where you started.
Note: the loop section of this hike is heavily used by horses, especially near the stables.
Patricia Lake Circle
Trails 6 and 6c, 4.6 km return (2-3 hours)
Trailhead: riding-stables parking area at km 3.5 on the Pyramid Lake Road, or hike Trail 2 from town.
This is an easy trail with moderate hills. From the trailhead kiosk by the stables, take Trail 6c across the Pyramid Lake Road to the junction with Trail 6. Keep right, uphill through aspen groves. Pass under a powerline and descend to the shore of Patricia Lake, where you may see loons. Patricia Lake was named for Princess Patricia of Connaught, a governor-general’s daughter.
Continue past the junction with Trail 6ba shortcut, but uphillto reach Cottonwood Creek and a fine view of Cottonwood Slough. This is a favorite spot for watching ducks and beavers. You may see a moose. From the slough, follow Trail 6 past the junction with 6a, then take 6c back to the stables parking lot.
Mina Lakes – Riley Lake Loop
Trails 8 and 2, 9 km return (3-4 hours)
Trailhead: Jasper Activity Centre lot, near the start of the Pyramid Lake Road. Follow Trail 8 to the left. This trailhead is easily reached on foot from town.
Rewards come early on this popular trail, which takes you to lower Mina Lake in less than 2 km. After the initial steady climb of 160 m, the trail follows the north side of the lakes (locally pronounced MINE-uh, significance unknown), where you may see Barrow’s goldeneye ducks and loons. Past upper Mina Lake you can shortcut back to town via Trail 8c. To reach Riley Lake, small but scenic, continue on Trail 8, following it along the south shore of Cottonwood Slough. At the junction with Trail 2, turn right to get back to Jasper.
Share the Valley
The area where the Miette, Maligne and Athabasca rivers converge is critical habitat for elk, sheep, moose and deer, and for their predators, including wolves, cougars, grizzly bears and black bears. Recent research suggests that human use is displacing these large predators from some portions of this three-valley confluence. The areas shaded in grey are less disturbed by people and development, and so are especially important for movement of these wary species. To help us restore lost habitat, please travel only on the designated trails, avoiding unmarked trails, which are used mainly by wildlife. A few designated trails are also shown in grey, because they, too, are heavily used by wildlife. To protect the animals, restore habitat and avoid conflicts, we suggest that you avoid these trails.