A trip around the Old Fort Point Loop in Jasper National Park is a wonderful short hike close to the town of Jasper. Hiked counter clockwise the climb is more gradual, it passes through some prime rocky mountain bighorn sheep habitat and saves the best for last, a 360 degree summit view. Please Note: Mountain biking is not permitted over the summit of Old Fort Point.
The whole loop is hiked on Trail#1, which starts behind the trailhead kiosk in the parking lot. The trail climbs at first but soon levels out passing some large boulders that tumbled from the cliffs above long ago. Several unmarked trails intersect with Trail#1 in the first 700m, look for trail markers to indicate the proper route. Turn right and at the junction with Trail#7a and enter a beautiful little vale. At 1.2km keep right at the junction with Trail#1a and prepare for a steep climb up a gully. Trail#1a is the horse trail which should be considered by families with young children and the elderly, as it adds less than half a kilometre to the trip and is nowhere near as steep as the gully)
At the top of the gully the trail enters one of the new (2005) fire guards around the town of Jasper. A little bit farther and the trail arrives at a four way intersection. On the left is the second junction with Trail#1a. Straight ahead is Trail#9 Which joins the Old Fort Point Loop to the Valley of the Five Lakes in 6km, and Wabasso Lake another 6km after that, making an enjoyable hike or cross country trip for cyclists. And finally, to the right is the hikers only continuation of Trail#1 leading over the summit of Old Fort Point.
This stretch of trail leads down forest dominated by Trembling Aspen, passes an ancient canyon on the right, then begins to climb to the summit Old Fort Point. Apporaching the summit the trees give way and the trail dips down before climbing though notch in a rocky outcrop (careful with the kids) and emerges to a spectacular lookout. The 360 degree view from the top takes in peaks up and down the Athabasca Valley, half way up the Miette and over the Continental Divide into British Columbia.( http://bridgland.sunsite.ualberta.ca/main/station.php?id=26) a fantastic website about the change in vegetation due to 80 years of fire suppression). And more often than not, you'll be in the company of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
After taking in the view go back down the notch in the rocky outcrop and turn right, folowing the two little cairns. The trail loses elevation quickly as it wraps around to descend the front side of Old Fort Point. Near the bottom you'll pass a monument to the Athabasca River, which was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1989. (http://www.chrs.ca/Rivers/Athabasca/Athabasca_e.htm). Then it's down the wooden stairs to the parking lot.
Jasper National Park produces a free day hiking guide called 'Summer Trails' of this and many other trails in the park, it is available at the Jasper Information Centre. Gemtrek produces two maps of the area 'Jasper Up Close' at 1:35,000 and 'Jasper and Maligne Lake' at 1:100,000. The Government topo 83 D/16 Jasper at 1:50,000 shows the area as well but rare is the trail that is correctly plotted on this map.
Submitted by 'mtncat'.
The parking lot is 2km from the town of Jasper. Exit the town on Hazel Street and cross the railroad tracks, it's the only level crossing of the tracks in town. Keep going and cross Hwy 16, then turn left on the Old Fort Point Road. The Old Fort Point Road crosses the river before entering the parking lot at Old Fort Point.
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