Our Canada Day backpack trip brought us to Brazeau Loop on the border of Jasper and Banff National Park. Parking is off of the Icefields Parkway at Nigel Pass. The trailhead at Camp Parker begins after a 2.1 km walk down a gravel road which was the original Icefields Parkway, according to 'Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies' by Graeme Pole.
Shortly after crossing Hilda Creek and Nigel Creek, tree carvings are seen.
Most of the trail conditions were typical Canada Park trails - visible and in good condition.
Creek crossing at Nigel's Pass
2.1 km of road plus 13.9 km of trail, we reached Four Point CG. All the campgrounds were well treed and adequately supplied with tables, food caches or cables, water, and privy.
We chose to hike the Loop counter-clockwise which was in our favour in respect to the weather during our trip. Four Points to Brazeau Lake was an easier, steady climb - challenging because of the boggy, water eroded trails and downfall. Good boots and gaiters are a must!
Excellent signage at all hiker/horse junctions.
Some of the bridges were eroded, but for the most part all were intact and could be crossed.
After climbing over much downfall, we reached Brazeau Lake Campground. Parks will most likely have the downfall cleared in a few weeks. We watched an eagle on the lake.
From Brazeau Lake, we were once again on fairly good trails with some muddy sections. This is the NW end of Brazeau Lake, heading into Poboktan Pass.
Poboktan Pass. Halfway is John-John CG, but we continued to Jonas Cutoff CG
Trail following Poboktan Creek
After Jonas Cutoff CG, we began the steady climb to Jonas Shoulder. We encountered deep snow at 2300 m. The trail wasn't visible and there was only one set of snowshoe tracks from the past week to follow. Being experienced in these types of conditions, we broke trail on an easier grade than the snowshoer, that dodged what was left of the couple of cornices. Dark clouds were forming behind us. We wanted to be over the Shoulder and through most of the Pass when the rain hit. When the rain started we were 7 km from camp.
This trek through Jonas Pass is not the suggested 18.9 km rather 22.8 km back to Four Points Campground. The last night of our trip was met with magical summer snow. Big flakes poured on the Brazeau River, it was beautiful. Happy Canada Day!
Sun greeted us the next morning, as well as, rain from the trees as snow melted off their branches. It was a lovely hike out!
Brazeau Loop, although seeming like easy trekking was actually quite a test of endurance. Long days of up and down through the Passes then up through the Shoulder and down was challenging in a different way. So worth it! The Rockies are magnificent, the various water ways beautiful and Parks does a fantastic job maintaining this trail. Thanks Parks Canada for making this trail possible.