Actually, technically just inside Jasper National Park. Elevation Gain: 335 m (1,100 ft).
This hike is one of those "I can't believe you get all of this for so little effort". After the 20 minute or so climb (1-1/2K) to the valley it's all yours. Views of the Columbia Icefields and many mountain peaks abound including a huge view of Athabasca Mountain and Glacier. After the first 20-30 minutes it's all flat and beautiful. The other bonus is the lack of any real destination. You can hike a long way or a short way its up to you. If you turn around half way to the actual pass or if you go beyond it you won't miss anything.
We just went to the pass but apparently there is a loop that takes you back to the Icefields Parkway. We decided not to do this because you must either walk or hitchhike about 7 kilometers back to your car once you reach the highway. We agreed it made more sense to walk back from whence we came and enjoy the splendor of the views from the opposite direction. This beautiful little hike offers hikers the opportunity of experiencing real back country Rocky Mountain hiking with a fraction of the effort normally required for these views.
Along the way we encountered a herd of about a dozen Rocky Mountain Long Horn Sheep the hikers in front of us were so close to them they could have touched them. They actually got between some of them. The animals seemed somewhat uninterested by our presence but it was quite exciting for us hikers to be in such close proximity to these beautiful animals. There are a few herds that apparently inhabit this valley and your chances of seeing them as we did are very good.
My wife and I travel many kilometers up and down many mountain moraines to find the very landscape we found ourselves in within 30 minutes of moderate climbing. You can judge for yourself by the content of the pictures I've attached. Even experienced hikers will enjoy this easy hike. Put it on your list of hikes to do in the Rockies.
From Banff head north on the Icefield Parkway to the Banff/Jasper park boundary. About 2 kilometers into Jasper at Sunwapta look for the Wilcox Creek Campground Road on the east side of the highway. The trailhead is less than 50 meters off Parkway. If you go as far as the big Icefield Centre you've gone past it.
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Posted By: MChaisson
- Sun May 25 19:33:14 UTC 2008
UpsideIncredible scenery, easy enough for our eight year old (except for a few deeper snow areas). Our encounter with the Bighorn Ram was great. It is a very popular trail in summer but for us we were totally alone in the pass. DownsideWe just went on the weekend, the weather was overcast and it was a bit chilly in the higher elevations.
Posted By: Kmarshall
- Fri Jan 27 19:42:38 UTC 2006
UpsideThe best thing about this hike is the dogs will love it. You will be excited to be here.You are surrounded with beauty that can not be described. This was one of the 17 hikes we did when we were on our trip to Banff last summer. We did this in July2005 and I tell you this is a hit. Take a picnic take your time. Walk forever in the timeless beauty of nature. See Big Horn Sheep and if you are really lucky you will see a Bear or two. Amazing day. This is one of the easiest hikes that we did. You will not be disappointed. Don't forget your camera and don't forget to bundle up it is a whee bit chilly but so worth the effort and time. Not alot of people on the path either. You are in for a real treat DownsideNo downside are you kidding this was the best hike ever CommentWe took our dogs and they had a blast. Remember to leash them and watch out for the pesky marmots. Otherwise you are in for a real great exploring eye opening, mouth watering experience. Have fun pack a lunch don't forget your hat and sunglasses and water and hiking poles and you are good to go
Posted By: baldgrizzly
- Wed Jun 15 01:40:04 UTC 2005
UpsideWe saw a lot of mountain sheep on the way toward Wilcox Peak. Once you are on the open hillside, head more N. than the trail, and you can just hike off-trail towards Wilcox Peak. We saw 12 sheep lazing about and chewing their cud. Also the views of the glacier on the other side of the highway are breathtaking.