Key information: Skyline Trail
- Superb high-ground walk, outstanding views, interesting wildlife.
- One of Canada’s great walks.
- Walkopedia rating88.5
- Natural interest16.5
- Human interest2
- Negative points2
- Total rating88.5
- Note: Frequent bad weather
- Length: 42-46km
- 2-4 days
- Maximum Altitude: 2,510
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This superb ridge walk is claimed by many to be the finest walk in Canada, enjoying outstanding views and a good chance to encounter the interesting wildlife.
Starting at Maligne Lake, you head off through forest for a bit over an hour, before climbing steeply to high meadows above the tree-line, where the trail spends well over half its course (25km). From here on, you are in visual heaven as you head up to Little Shovel Pass (17km in), down across a huge beautiful bowl (the Snowbowl, where you can camp), replete with gurgling streams, to cross the Big Shovel Pass; the Curator camp site is 2km beyond, the Shovel Pass Lodge some 3km on.
Day 2: climb steeply to the stunningly located Curator Lake, and on to the famous Notch (22km in, a hole in the high cliff-ridge of Amber Mountain), the trail’s highest pass, at 2,510m, for the most extraordinary views of this view-rich trail. After some traversing you drop steeply to the Centre and Tekarra Lakes. Wind between Tekarra and Signal Mountains, enjoying perhaps the best views of the entire trail. You then descend 800m reasonably steadily to the Maligne Lake Road.
While the fit and determined can walk the Skyline in 2 days, 3 (or 4) allow you more time to enjoy the route and explore the areas you pass through.
Variants include to start by climbing the Bald Hills for some early amazement, then joining the main trail; and walking from Wabasso Lake to Shovel Pass, a 16km alternative to day 1, although it does still involve some serious height gain.
Most people camp en route (in specified grounds which need booking well ahead); www.hikejasper.com/Hiking-The-Skyline-Trail has information on the 6 camping grounds along the trail. All but one are at over 2,000m. Or stay at the venerable Shovel Pass Lodge half way along (18 people). Spend 2 nights there and explore the area? See www.skylinetrail.com for info on the Shovel Pass Lodge.
Walk the trail mid-July to mid-September, although check the Notch is clear – it can be impassable to end July in some years. Bad weather comes regularly – this walk is famous for it, and for its exposure: come prepared (a guided expedition may be advisable for some). This is a demanding walk in high, remote mountains, on which you will have to be self-sufficient, and where you can meet bears. Come prepared.
You can also ride the trail and make horse-assisted expeditions.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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