Spend enough time exploring the peaks and valleys of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and you’re sure to stumble upon some amazing things. Unbeknownst to many travelers are a few trails in our mountain parks that are no longer marked with signs or maintained by trail workers. These areas have taken on an almost exclusivity to only a few who know of their existence. However it also seems a shame that many miss out on the opportunity to explore these incredible places. These three trails are steeped in history, each telling their own story about the creation and development of the national park system in the Canadian Rockies.
Canadian Rockies Hiking at its Best!
“Beauty Creek and Stanley Falls” is an easy hike located just off the Icefield Parkway inside Jasper National Park. About 16 kilometers north of the Icefield Centre and 2 kilometers south of the Beauty Creek Hostel, this is perhaps one of the most surprising trails you’ll encounter in the park. The trail is marked by a small sign but it is easily missed as people zoom down the highway. This area was rerouted during the 1950s and renamed the Icefield Parkway as the age of the auto-tourist boomed. It’s a little piece of history that you can still see with your own eyes. In total you’ll see eight small waterfalls culminating with Stanley Falls at the end. Because the trail is not maintained there is no railing to keep one from falling into the canyon so be mindful of the edge as you make your way up this “Beauty” of a trail.
“Saskatchewan Glacier” was one of the happiest discoveries I made a few summers ago. It requires more time and effort than “Beauty Creek” and is even more concealed from view on the Icefield Parkway but it is well worth the trek. During the Second World War an access road was built to the Saskatchewan Glacier so U.S. Army engineers could test snow vehicles that would be used for the construction of the Alaska Highway. You can still see some old constructions along the way including tools and machinery now rusting with old age. Within Banff National Park the trailhead is located at an obscure, unpaved road dropping below the highway. The trail crosses gravel flats, ascends into forest, and then eventually opens up into glacial outwash flats with incredible views of Parker Ridge and Saskatchewan Glacier.
“Deer Lodge Warden Cabin” is a forgotten treasure in Yoho National Park. You won’t find a description of the trail in any recent hiking guide or map. It’s quite overgrown and the signs are buried in the tall bushes but you can see the roof of the cabin from the trailhead. The cabin was built in 1904 and is now a Recognized Federal Heritage Building. It was the first warden’s cabin to be built in Yoho National Park constructed by one of the first game wardens, Reuben Gable. Though the sign still stands most people don’t know what is out there and won’t go looking for it. There is excellent bird viewing in the area so bring binoculars and a camera. The trailhead begins at Hoodoos Campground just off the Trans-Canada Highway about 23 kilometers west of Field.
There’s much to discover and explore in our National Parks. Grab your boots and hit the trails this summer!
For detailed directions and trail descriptions for Beauty Creek, Saskatchewan Glacier, and Deer Lodge visit newsummits.wordpress.com.