Trail Conditions Update – July 27, 2018
Alpine wildflowers are blooming! Trail conditions are generally good but expect some wet and muddy sections and a few snow patches lingering at higher elevations. Warm weather means rapid snow melt during the day resulting in high water levels and potentially dangerous creek crossings, so attempt to ford larger creeks early in the day when water levels are lowest.
Trail crews are out maintaining the GDT in July so make your presence known when hiking through a work area and say thanks for all their hard work!
BEARS: Bears are out and about! Be bear aware on the trails this summer: be alert, make noise and carry bear spray.
CAMPFIRE BANS: Fire hazard ratings are high or extreme in the Rockies and smoke/haze may be present in valleys due to forest fires burning some distance away from the GDT. A campfire ban is in effect for all portions of the GDT in BC from Sage Pass (a17) to Howse Pass (d11). A Fire Advisory is in effect in Alberta from Waterton (a1) to North Kananaskis Pass (c3). If you must have a campfire in the backcountry elsewhere, ensure you follow the rules.
- Due to last year’s Kenow wildfire, many trails and backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park and Akamina Kishinena Provincial Park remain closed. The GDT is closed from the Carthew-Alderson trail junction (a3) to Sage Pass (a17). The Waterton Lakeshore Trail has re-opened (a1 to a3) but since the remaining portions of the GDT within Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed, Font Creek Trail is the Alternate Southern Terminus of the GDT.
- Trail 7 near Jasper is closed to hikers south of the junction with Trail 4g and north of the junction with Trail 7a due to a grizzly bear attack in the area. Detour by taking Trail 4d to Edith Lake from where you can take several different trails (4, 4a, 4d, 7b) to reach Old Fort Point trailhead. Equestrians 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. The pedestrian bridge is being replaced and will be installed in fall 2018. Numa Creek Trail will be cleared in spring 2019 and access to the Rockwall from this location will be restored for mid-summer 2019.
- The Elysium Pass, Virl, Dorothy and Christine Lakes trailhead is closed during construction of the Meadow Creek Bridge, expected to continue until November 2018. During this time, the Marjorie-Dorothy Lakes Alternate Route and Elysium Pass Alternate Route will not be accessible from this trailhead.
- In 2017, approximately 35 km of the GDT was burned by the Kenow Wildfire between Bertha Bay campground and Font Creek (a19). Some trails that have been damaged by wildfire may require environmental analysis or heavier engineering, and closures could be in place for many months, for the health of the trail and the surrounding landscapes as well as the safety of hikers, park staff and volunteers. The GDTA will continue to monitor and assess the condition of these damaged trails and provide updates as they become available. For 2018, Font Creek Trail is the Alternate Southern Terminus of the GDT.
- The Waterton Lakeshore Trail has re-opened making it is possible to hike from the International Boundary to Font Creek Trail via a connection of trails, roads and seismic lines but it will involve some route-finding and bushwhacking. Turn on the Access Routes layer on the GDT map to view this proposed “Waterton Detour” route.
- From Scarpe Pass (a24), the trail disappears so hikers must route-find up to La Coulotte Ridge, where the hiking becomes significantly more difficult until you reach the ATV track (a27) heading down to the West Castle Road.
- Leroy Creek has washed out approximately 100m of the trail obscuring the location of the creek ford. Look for cairns on either side of the creek marking the crossing.
- A windstorm blew through Yoho National Park in July 2017 resulting in many blown down trees. On the Ottertail Trail, there are several debris fields with fallen trees across the trail near Goodsir Pass (c36) but these are fairly easy to get around. On the Amiskwi Trail, about 1 km from the trailhead (d1), there are dozens of trees blow down across the trail that are more challenging to get around.
- Cairnes Creek (d9): The bridge is washed out making this a potentially dangerous ford. There are two large trees down across the creek allowing hikers to cross. 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 downstream where the creek is wider and shallower, and cross early in the morning when glacial melt is lowest.
- The Howse Pass Trail from Conway Creek (d12) to the Glacier Lake trail junction (d14) 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 highly recommended when the river is low enough to safely ford.
- Parks Canada has advised that GDT hikers are able to hike through the Mistaya Canyon/Howse Pass trailhead during the parking lot closure as long as the closed area is avoided.
- The Owen Creek Trail was cleared in July 2015 up to km 6 but there has been some new deadfall since then. 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. The Six Passes Route is a cross-country 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. There are two options: (1) ford the Smoky River in the floodplain; or (2) ford Yates Torrent approximately 500m upstream (location was flagged in 2017). At both locations 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 public cabin at Kakwa Lake will be closed for public use from July 31 – August 2, 2018 for conservation work being conducted in the park.
- 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.
- Akamina Parkway and Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park are closed.
- July 2018 – A washout occurred around km 66 of the Walker Creek Forestry Road which may be impassable to vehicles. There are no plans for repair this year but possibly in 2019. Overgrown brush past km 60 may be a particular concern for drivers. High clearance 4WD vehicles required.
- For more information, check out Alberta 511 and Drive BC.