Choosing hikes along Icefields Parkway - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 4
Default Choosing hikes along Icefields Parkway


I'll be in the Lake Louise and Jasper area next week, and have got 2–3 days to choose from these hikes along the Icefields Parkway:

Bow Peak/Balfour Glacier Prospect
Caldron Lake
Nigel Pass/Upper Brazeau Valley/Cataract Pass
Tangle Ridge

I've done most of the other "Premier" hikes in this area, which is why I'm just including these. I'm reasonably fit for my age (47), and am not concerned about water crossings, light scrambling, etc. Due to time restraints, I'll unfortunately have to eliminate 1, and possibly 2 of these, so I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks for weighing in!

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 10:59 AM
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Calgary
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The river crossing for Caldron Lake in the afternoon may be very difficult. I've read reports from very experienced hikers who barely made it across (thigh deep water in a raging glacial stream). (If you have an old guidebook, keep in mind the bridge washed out in 2013). I'd cut this one from the list simply for that reason.

Bow Peak vs. Cataract Pass: Bow Peak would normally win due to its expansive views, but if its smoky (it likely will be) the views on the route to Cataract Pass and from the pass are much closer and thus less affected by smoke. I'd recommend the pass if its smoky; Bow Peak if it's not.

Tangle Ridge should work in the smoke. The best view is immediately to the west and is quite close. Go early in the day so the sun isn't behind it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Thanks Matt! I'm a big fan of your website, and appreciate your suggestions—especially since I didn't realize the Verdant Creek fire had spread like it has, which means I'll need to eliminate Healy Pass/Monarch Ramparts from this trip also. Maybe Eiffel Peak or Wenkchemna Pass instead (though I'm sure there will be haze).
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:22 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Canmore, AB
Interest: Being outside! Hiking, Scrambling, Trail running
Posts: 312

Just to weigh in on Caudron - I've done it twice.
The first time I crossed at the upper gravel flats near where the bridge used to be. Don't cross there - thigh deep, fast and can be dangerous.
The second time I crossed right down at the Peyto Lake flats, the creek is braided into channels, worst crossing was knee deep, small and slower flow. You do need to travel beside the creek up to the ascent moraine but when I was there last (3 years ago today as it happens!) there is a basic trail emerging on the far shoreline, easy scrambling experience should be fine for that from memory.

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Crossing the flats - no more than knee deep, likely only calf deep small channels

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Side-hilling beside the creek to approach the normal moraine ascent line

Another neat option is The Onion - see Matt's recent trip on his site, with excellent photos. Good trail approach, excellent scenery - I need to get myself up there for that one!
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Thanks Phil! I enjoy seeing the hikes/scrambles you and Vern do (Capricorn Lake last summer really stands out)! I appreciate the advice, and look forward to seeing what you guys do next (and Matt too)!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:39 PM
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generally second what Phil says; I've been to Caldron twice as well. Going in I actually found easier to cross in flats some 200-300m downstream from old bridge. Lots of braided channels and not a big deal in the morning.
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In the afternoon water too high and had to side-hill downstream as Phil pic shows. More details here

Matt' trip is little gem; I planned highline route from Bow Hut to Iceberg lake for few yrs now, but was not aware Onion was such an easy extension above the Hut. This trip is actually a priority now in my bucket list.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 4

Thanks again—I may end up trying Caldron Lake after all. The Onion wasn't even on my radar (never even heard of it actually, even though I've hiked to Bow Hut). I think I may have to incorporate it now!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-04-2017, 10:22 PM
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Edmonton, AB
Posts: 112

Are you going alone or with a partner? We did Cauldron Lake last year in late July and found the crossing was not to hard with the two of us using the partner method. On our way to the lake we crossed the braided streams by the lake and didn't even get our socks wet. On the way back we chose to cross just below where the old bridge is to avoid the side hilling Phil posted a picture of. There is an easy trail over the bump on the south side of the creek.

Honestly, the hardest part of Cauldron Lake was the scree above the cliff right before you get to the lake. Its a steep slope ending that drops of a cliff of a couple hundred meters. There is an easy trail and no scrambling in required just don't trip.

Not the fastest, but I get to where I am going and enjoy it.
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