Key information: Tonquin Valley
- Walk in to the awe-inspiring Tonquin Valley, a great watery-floored cleft between huge cliffs and peaks.
- One of Canada’s finest hikes.
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest16
- Human interest2
- Negative points0
- Total rating88
- Length: 27 miles
- 3-5 days
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
“Valley” feels a bit of a weak word for this vast space enclosed by its enormous cliffs and peaks (including the famous line known as the “Ramparts”) and clusters of huge mountains. On its floor are virgin forests, rivers and a sprinkling of gorgeous lakes. Great Outdoors state it well: “the allure of this place can not be overstated” and “watching sunrise light up the enormous broadside of the Ramparts, throwing golden reflections into the water of Amethyst Lakes, is an experience worthy of any time or effort expended to get into this wild valley”.
There are two ways into the Tonquin: south-west from the Marmot Basin road across the McCarib Pass; and across from the head of the Astoria River to the south, the shorter route at some 10 miles in to the Tonquin. Most tend to walk in and out on one of these routes, not least to get back to their start point. If you can engineer it, though (and this wouldn’t be too hard, as both are reasonably near Jasper town), walking both trails as a loop is the supreme way to visit this very special place. You may need to book taxis to achieve this, as there are (as of 2019) no shuttles buses here.
It would be madness not to a spend at least a day in the Tonquin on top of the walks in and out. Side walks include to Moat Pass (on the British Columbia boarder) and Moat Lake from the north end of Amethyst Lake, and to Chrome Lake and the Eremite Valley from the southern end/Astoria Valley.
This is very remote and remote-feeling country. Bears, both black and grizzly, are about. Prepare and be aware.
You need to have a pass to come here and they aren’t all that easy to come by (easier to get if you take on organised journey).. Reserve in advance. See our Jasper NP page for more info.
The season is quite short. Mosquitos and other insects are oppressive in the heart of the Tonquin, especially in the period to end July. People generally recommend August to mid-September (others, July to September).
The trail can be very muddy, especially earlier in the season, so come prepared with good boots and high gaiters.
There are various campsites in Tonquin, including to the north and the south of Amethyst Lake, as well as on the routes in/out. Campfires are not allowed. There are also lodges/cabins at the Narrows (the Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge) and up above Amethyst Lake. While these have established for riding groups, they will also accommodate hikers.
Canadianskylineadventures.com does a selection of guided treks in to the Tonquin. There are horse outfitters with the Amethyst Lake and Tonquin Valley Lodges near the trailheads, who can support an expedition – see www.tonquinadventures.com. The lodges are great places to stay.
This walk was originally recommended by a sadly anonymous Walkopedia member (Thank You!).
Great Outdoors have good information on Tonquin.
For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Jasper NP walk page.
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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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