Jasper National Park, Alberta
by Paul Peters
The Old Fort Point Loop trail is a fairly short and simple hike, offering great view of Jasper National Park and the surrounding Canadian Rockies. The hike also contains interesting geological features, and a bit of Canadian Rockies history.
Old Fort Point is a prominent bedrock hill standing 130 m above the river. Rounded on its south side, cliffy on its north side, Old Fort Point is a classic roche moutonnée: a bedrock knob shaped by glaciers.
The loop trail over the top is steep in places, but it provides an excellent view of Jasper and its surroundings. The name Old Fort probably refers to Henry House, a North West Company cabin built near here in 1811, now gone but commemorated as a National Historic Site.
The quickest route to the big view at the top of the hill is up the stairs that start by the cliff. (The stairs lead to a Canadian Heritage Rivers plaque about the Athabasca.) But it’s a steep climb. Instead, we recommend the wide, easy path that begins behind the trail information kiosk. Follow Trail 1 up a short hill and on through the woods.
At 1.3 km you climb a very steep section, with 30 m of elevation gain in a short distance, beside an outcrop of the oldest rock in Jasper National Park. The layer is Precambrian, about 750 million years old. Take a close look at this unusual rock. It’s breccia, made of angular chunks of pink limestone.
What you’ll see:
Viewing clockwise: Mt. Edith Cavell (always snow-streaked) to the south, The Whistlers (mountain with the tramway terminal near the top).
To the southwest, the valley of the Miette River leading west toward Yellowhead Pass and B.C., the town of Jasper across the Athabasca River, the reddish quartzite of the Victoria Cross Range
To the northwest beyond the town (the peak with a microwave relay station on top is Pyramid Mountain), Lac Beauvert and Jasper Park Lodge
To the north (other lakes visible northward: Annette and Edith), the gray limestone of the Colin Range to the northeast, rounded Signal Mountain and the cliffs of Mt. Tekarra to the east,
To the southeast, Mt. Hardisty (sloping layers) and Mt. Kerkeslin (layers bowed gently down).
Distance (on trail): 3.5 km return or 1-2 hours.
Distance to the trailhead from town: 1.6 km.
Trailhead: From town or from Highway 16, follow Highway 93A to the Old Fort Point/Lac Beauvert access road. Turn left, cross the Athabasca River on the old iron bridge, then park in the lot on the right.