Tonquin Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada

Tonquin Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada
There are more than 70km of trails in the area and you could spend from 2-7 days.

The Tonquin Valley has scenery beyond compare and is a must do for all serious backpackers bound for Jasper National Park . Not an individual trail, the Tonquin Valley the combination of five trails: Astoria River , Maccarib Pass , Eremite Valley , Moat Lake and the ACC Chrome Lake Trail . There is a selection of hiker camps, one horse/hiker camp, the Wates-Gibson ACC Hut and two back-country lodges that specialize in horse trips but accept hikers as well,

Please Note: Until some serious money is spent on improving the trails in the Tonquin Valley, you can expect lots of mud and deteriorating trails. So bad is the mud that a spider web of hiker and horse bypasses are developing, causing significant damage to the area. Hikers are well advised to avoid this trail in early summer or after periods of rain, autumn is best. Please wear good high cut boots and gaiters, be prepared to walk in the mud and try not to add to the considerable trail side damage. Abused bodies grow stronger, abused trails get worse.

The Tonquin Valley is home to a healthy population of grizzly bears, which has prompted numerous bear warnings and several closures after grumpy grizzlies bluff-charged hikers or otherwise got too close. But not to worry, no one has died… recently (2006). It’s a wise idea to hike in groups and make lots of noise on the trail in order to avoid a surprise encounter with a grumpy bruin. The Tonquin also has a healthy population of biting insects, another good reason to visit later in the year. During the summer bug repellant is a must and a mesh bug hat or jacket ‘provides sanity’.

There are two trails leading to the Tonquin Valley, Maccarib Pass is more scenic but the Astoria River is shorter and easier, both lead to the Amethyst Lakes campground in the core area. The ACC trail branches off the Astoria River trail and leads past Chrome Lake to Outpost Lake and the ACC hut. The Eremite Valley and Moat Lake trails are done as day hikes from base camps in the valley. The horse camp is at the north end of the valley along the Maccarib Pass trail, horses are not permitted on the Eremite or ACC trails.

Despite all these trails the Tonquin Valley does not provide hikers with a complete loop so most hikers return to their point of origin. Groups with two vehicles or hikers arranging transportation between the two trailheads can hike the Tonquin Valley as a point to point hike. There is no formal trailhead shuttle company in Jasper but some taxi and interpretive guiding companies offer the service. (not cheap) The Edith Cavell Road, which leads to the Astoria River trail is only open from late-June to mid-October further complicating access. While it is possible to hitchhike to the Astoria trailhead (given time), it is near impossible to hitch a ride to the Maccarib trailhead.

In winter skiers can book the Cavell Hostel on the Edith Cavell Road and the ACC hut, or you can camp. Please be aware that route finding in the winter can be complicated and many people have found themselves in a survival situation when they were unable to locate the hut. Even if you’re planning to stay at the hut you should be prepared to spend the night out. In winter avalanche forecasts can be found at

No campfires are permitted in the Tonquin Valley and dogs have recently been banned as well (to protect the caribou). Booking is required and fees apply, call the Jasper Trail Office at 1-780-852-6177. Reservations, which can be made up to three months in advance, are a good idea if you are visiting on a weekend in summer or early autumn.

Submitted by ‘mtncat.

Trailheads are discussed in the Maccarib Pass and Astoria River



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