August 2017 Trail and Road Conditions

Trail Conditions Update – August 22, 2017

WILDFIRES: Fire danger ratings in the Rockies are very high and trail closures and campfire bans are in effect. Wildfire smoke is occurring along much of the GDT and is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility. Read wildfire updates regularly and be cautious out there.

  • SECTION A TRAIL CLOSURES: Due to extreme fire hazard in Waterton Lake National Park, the GDT is closed from Rowe Meadow (a10) to the Blakiston Valley trail junction, and the Sage Pass Trail is also closed (a16 to a17). No detour is available at this time.
  • SECTION A CAMPGROUND CLOSURES: All backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lake National Park and Akamina Kishinena Provincial Park are closed due to extreme fire hazard.
  • SECTION C TRAIL CLOSURES: Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park have partial closures due to the due to the Verdant Creek Wildfire. The GDT is closed from Og Lake (c11) to Citadel Pass (c13), and from Ball Pass Junction (c21) to Hawk Creek trailhead (c23). Detour around these closures is difficult but can be done by leaving the GDT at Watridge Lake trail junction (c7) or Allenby Pass junction (on the Assiniboine Pass alternate) and rejoin the GDT at the Floe Lake trailhead (c23). The GDT is open around Sunshine Village and Egypt Lake but cannot be hiked contiguously due to the closures north and south of Sunshine Village.

CAMPFIRE BANS: Given the extremely high fire hazard, campfires are not recommended anywhere on the GDT until further notice. 

  • A campfire ban is in effect in all of BC, which includes all sections of the GDT in BC from Akamina Pass to Kakwa Lake. These prohibitions do not apply to cooking stoves that use gas or propane.
  • Due to the high fire hazard, backcountry and front country campfire bans are in effect in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Yoho National Parks.
  • A Fire Restriction and campfire ban has been issued for the Calgary Forest Area which includes all sections of the GDT in Alberta from Sage Pass to North Kananaskis Pass, due to high fire hazard. Gas or propane stoves are still allowed in campgrounds and random camping areas.
  • For current information, check out Alberta Fire Bans or BC Wildfire Status websites.

BEARS:  It’s berry season! Berry bushes border trails, roads and campgrounds on the GDT, and black and grizzly bears are feeding on berries right now. Be bear aware on the trails this summer, make noise and carry bear spray.

TRAIL CLOSURES:

  • Waterton Lakes National Park: Rowe Lake Trail is closed due to grizzly bears feeding in the area.
  • Due to extreme fire hazard in Waterton Lake National Park, the GDT is closed from Rowe Meadow (a10) to the Blakiston Valley trail junction, and the Sage Pass Trail is also closed (a16 to a17). No detour is available at this time.
  • All backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lake National Park and Akamina Kishinena Provincial Park are closed due to extreme fire hazard.
  • Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park have partial closures due to the due to the Verdant Creek Wildfire. The GDT is closed from Og Lake (c11) to Citadel Pass (c13), and from Ball Pass Junction (c21) to Hawk Creek trailhead (c23). Detour around these closures is difficult but can be done by leaving the GDT at Watridge Lake trail junction (c7) or Allenby Pass junction (on the Assiniboine Pass alternate) and rejoin the GDT at the Floe Lake trailhead (c23). The GDT is open around Sunshine Village and Egypt Lake but cannot be hiked contiguously due to the closures north and south of Sunshine Village.
  • Trail 7 near Jasper is closed to hikers south of the junction with Trail 7e and north of the junction with Trail 7a due to grizzly and black bears frequenting the area next to the golf course. Detour by taking Trail 7e towards Trefoil Lakes and Trail 7b south to Old Fort Point trailhead. Equestrian uses can still use Trail 7 but are not to dismount.
  • Numa Creek Trail (Rockwall access trail) remains closed due to wash out of the bridge over the Vermilion River. 
  • Tumbling Creek Trail (Rockwall access trail) is closed from the Ochre Creek trail to the intersection of the Rockwall Trail before the Tumbling bridge due to a missing bridge at km 6.6.

TRAIL NOTICES:

  • From Scarpe Pass (a24), the trail disappears up to La Coulotte Ridge and the hiking becomes significantly more difficult until you reach the ATV track (a27) heading down to the West Castle Road.
  • There is a new bridge over the Upper Elk Lake outflow (b38) and a new bypass trail to Fox Lake and West Elk Pass just before the bridge.
  • To protect sensitive habitat and improve habitat security for grizzly bears, hiking or travel anywhere except on official trails or designated roads in the Sunshine Meadows, Citadel Pass, and Healy Pass areas of Banff National Park is prohibited. 
  • Cairnes Creek (d9): The bridge is washed out making this a potentially dangerous ford. There are 2 large trees down across the creek allowing hikers to cross with dry feet. If these trees wash away, it is recommended to ford the creek early in the morning when glacial melt is lowest.
  • The damaged Lambe Creek bridge (d10) was removed in September 2015. It is recommended to ford the creek downstream.
  • The Howse Pass Trail from Conway Creek (d12) to the Glacier Lake trail junction (d14, 15 km) is in very poor condition. The trail is overgrown, with hundreds of wind-fallen trees across the trail. Hiking in the Howse River floodplain is a viable alternative if the Howse River is low enough to ford.
  • The Owen Creek Trail was cleared in July 2015 up to km 6. Beyond that point, the trail is in poor shape with several washed out sections. Expect challenging hiking for 3 km including skirting along steep creek-side cliffs and rock-hopping in the creek itself. At km 6, do not take the trail heading up away from the creek (it is a deadend). Look for orange blazes marking the correct route staying near the creek.
  • The Maligne Pass trail in Jasper National Park has been decommissioned and is in poor shape. The trail from Pobokton Creek (e20) to Maligne Lake (e25, approx 42 km) is no longer being maintained by Parks Canada so expect deteriorating and overgrown trail conditions; long pants are recommended. The Maligne River bridge has been removed but the river can be easily forded in normal summer conditions (knee deep in mid-summer). Most other bridges are still in place. Read Nathan Dahl’s August 30, 2015 Maligne Pass trail update here. The Six Passes Route is a good alternative to the overgrown trail.
  • The Yates Torrent Bridge is out at the crossing of the Coleman Glacier outflow (near f16). Do not attempt to cross at the old bridge location. Instead, ford the Smoky River farther down the valley. Attempt to cross early in the morning when glacial melt is the lowest or be prepared for a fast and potentially dangerous creek ford.
  • The bridges across Gendarme and Carcajou Creeks are out on the Jasper North Boundary Trail. These two creeks are smaller than the Smoky River, but can still be treacherous. Cross Gendarme at the horse crossing just below the old bridge (marked), and Carcajou about 100m below the trail.
  • The bridge across Buchanan Creek on the trail to Kakwa Lake, has been removed. The crossing here can be hazardous early in the year or after heavy rains. 

ACCESS ROADS:

  • Due to extreme fire hazard, recreational use of off-road vehicles is prohibited on all Crown lands in southwest BC and southeast Alberta.
  • A travel advisory is in effect for Highway 93 South from Castle Junction to Radium. Fire fighters will be working adjacent to the highway and reduced speed zones will be in place. Drivers should anticipate possible delays.
  • Access to the northern terminus of the GDT in Kakwa Provincial Park is via the Walker Creek Forest Service Road. The Walker Creek FSR has been repaired from Highway 16 to km 33.5. While travelling the remaining 40 kilometres on the Walker Creek FSR, attention is required to navigate the surface as it is uneven, rutted, slippery and very rough. 4WD/AWD high clearance vehicle is recommended. The last 10km from Bastille Creek to Buchanan Creek is closed due to washouts and is not driveable by vehicle so be prepared to walk this distance on foot.

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