The Astoria River trail is the easiest and quickest way (just over 400m elevation) to the core campgrounds in the beautiful Tonquin Valley
of Jasper National Park.
Drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), pass the park gate at 7km and turn right on 93a. Follow Hwy 93A for 5.5km and turn right on the Edith Cavell Road (winter parking). Drive 13km to the parking lot for the Tonquin Valley, which is across the road from the Edith Cavell Hostel www.hihostels.ca, the only overnight accommodation near the mountain. The initial 13km are forested with occasional views of the surrounding mountains, after that it is a world acclaimed visual smorgasbord.
The trail starts from the Mount Edith Cavell Road, right across from the Edith Cavell Hostel www.hihostels.ca. (a great place to spend the night before hitting the trail) After a short 100m you cross Cavell Creek and pass Cavell Lake, the first of many photo op's to be had on your days journey. Climbing a hill beyond the creek you'll pass the staging corral for Tonquin Valley Adventures http://www.tonquinadventures.com/, one of two horse-outfitters with lodges in the Tonquin Valley that also carter to hikers.
The first 4km to the bridges over Verdant Creek and the Astoria River is a good way to warm up the legs, as the trail does a darn good job of maintaining elevation. Make extra bear noise next to the Astoria River as the trail begins to make a slow and at times muddy ascent past the Astoria c/g at 7km, the ACC Chrome Lake Trail at 8km and the base of the switchbacks at 10km.
Gaining over 100 metres for each kilometre, the switchbacks are the only challenging part of this trail. By 13km the switchbacks are behind you and flower filled meadows with ever improving views welcome you to the Tonquin. A few hundred metres from the top of the switchbacks a trail branches left down to Switchback c/g. It's hard to describe the mid-summer flower displays and the views of The Ramparts over the next four kilometres but 'overwhelming' pops to mind. On the left at 17km the junction with the Eremite Valley trail is reached, Clitheroe c/g is 100 metres down this trail. Straight ahead you'll pass the cabins of Tonquin Valley Adventures on the left then pull into Amethyst c/g at 20km.
The Friends of Jasper www.friendsofjasper.com sell the '83D9 Amethyst Lakes' map that you'll need for this trip or you can opt for Gemtreks 'Jasper and Maligne Lake @ 1:100000'. Booking is required and fees apply, call the Jasper Trail Office at 1-780-852-6177.
In winter the parking lot along Hwy 93A at the base of the Edith Cavell road becomes the trail head. If the outfitters have been supplying their cabins recently, which they do with snowmobiles in winter, then there is an alternate route you can take into the valley. (This route bypasses the Cavell Hostel) About 6km up the Edith Cavell road, not far from the second set of switchbacks, the track drops down to the Astoria River and follows it upstream. More often than not ski tracks do not follow the summer trails and there will be no signs marking the way. Be sure to have maps, route finding skills and avalanche training for winter travel.
Please be aware that camp fires are not permitted in the Tonquin Valley and dogs are now taboo as well.
Submitted by 'mtncat'.
Drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), pass the park gate at 7km and turn right on 93a. Follow Hwy 93A for 5.5km and turn right on the Edith Cavell Road (winter parking). Drive 13km to the parking lot for the Tonquin Valley, which is across the road from the Edith Cavell Hostel www.hihostels.ca, the only overnight accommodation near the mountain.
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