BRYANT CREEK-ASSINIBOINE PASS
THE FASTEST (and most direct) SUMMER ACCESS IF YOU ARE HIKING IN
WINTER ACCESS IF YOU ARE SKIING IN
Spray Lakes-Mount Shark Day Use Parking-Bryant Creek-Assiniboine Pass route
Distance (28 km- 17 miles)
Elevation Gain: 520 meter gain (1,700 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 2,180 meters (7,200 feet)
Topographical Maps Mount Assiniboine 82 J/13 and Banff 82 O/4).
Point of Departure: The Mount Shark Day Use Area (3 km beyond the Mount Shark Heliport)
The Assiniboine Pass route can be skied or hiked in one day with a light pack (6-8 hours). Many people who are carrying 35 lb (16 kg) or more often take two days to hike to the park. If you are skiing in, phone us the day before your trip and we will let you know if anyone has skied through and set a track. We will tell you what trail conditions are like. If the ski track is not set in Bryant Creek, you must add extra time in order to break trail. Bryant Creek/Assiniboine Pass via the horse trail is the most traveled and is the safest, shortest and best winter route to Assiniboine. Carry adequate clothing, food, and first-aid equipment. Mountain weather can change dramatically over short periods of time- be prepared for any kind of weather- it can also snow in the summer!
The Bryant Creek Shelter is located at the halfway point on the Bryant Creek Trail. Contact Banff Park (403 762-1550, fax 403 762-2380, e-mail: email@example.com ) for information about overnight hut fees, camping in Banff National Park and trail use fees. Wilderness Passes for Banff National Park are available at the Banff Information Centre. Overnight Backcountry Wilderness Pass-$9.80 per person (children 16 and under free), Annual Wilderness Pass- $68.70, Fee for the Bryant Creek Shelter and backcountry camping in Banff National Park- $6.80 per person per night plus a $11.70 Reservation Fee. You will also need a special permit to fish in Banff National Park Fishing Permits. You must purchase these permits in Banff before starting your trip if you are camping overnight in the National Park.
GETTING TO THE MOUNT SHARK DAY USE AREA
Located 41.3 km West of Canmore, Alberta. This is a 1 hour drive from Canmore, a 1.5 hour drive from Banff, a 2.5-3 hour drive from Calgary. Drive to Canmore. Drive West through town following the Spray Lakes signs and Canmore Nordic Center signs. Drive past the Canmore Nordic Centre, up the steep hill on the Smith-Dorrien Road through Kananaskis Country. This is a good gravel road. You will be on the left side of the Spray Lakes. At 34.4 km you will see the Buller Mountain sign. Down the road is Mount Shark/Mount Engadine Lodge (you will see a bridge on your right before the turn-off.) Turn right at the Engadine Lodge sign. After 5 km you will see the Mount Shark Heliport sign (on your left). This is the heliport used for access to Assiniboine on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Drive to the end of road (2 km past the heliport) and park your car in the Mount Shark Day Use Area. You can also park overnight as well as a number of days in this parking lot. DO NOT LEAVE MONEY OR CREDIT CARDS IN YOUR CAR! See Maps.
The Assiniboine trailhead starts from the Mount Shark Day Use Area. It is a well-marked trail through Kananaskis Country. You will initially travel along an old logging road and then enter the woods near Watridge Lake/Karst Trail (3.7 km) The trail then drops down and crosses the Upper Spray River (5.9 km). The trail to Palliser Pass (6 km) will be on your left. After the second bridge over Bryant Creek (6.6 km) you will go up a hill. The road to Trail Centre (6.7 km- a Banff National Park Warden's Cabin) intersects the trail at the top of the hill after t he bridge (to the left). The old road to the right at this junction leads back to the Spray Lakes Reservoir via Canyon Dam (not a recommended route for cars). Keep following the main trail main trail straight ahead past a number of trailheads for Banff National Park Campgrounds (BR9-Big Springs Campground (9.6 km), the Owl Lake Junction at 12 km, BR13-Campground at 13 km and the shortcut to Marvel Lake, The Bryant Creek Hiker's Shelter at 13.6 km, The Bryant Creek Warden Cabin at 14.3 km)
The trail to Wonder Pass branches off to the left at the Bryant Creek Warden Cabin (at 14.3 km). Keep following Bryant Creek past the Bryant Creek Warden's Cabin. After passing beside swampy meadow land, you will cross a stream near the BR17 campground (17.5 km). The Assiniboine Pass Trail splits at this point into a Hiker's Trail (to the right) and a Horse Trail (to the left-the Horse Trail is the winter route). The Hiker's Trail on the North side of the pass is more gradual than the Horse Trail, but it adds 1.5 km onto your trip. If you take the Hiking Trail, you will pass the Brewster Creek/Og Pass/Allenby Pass Junction at 18 km. Keep Left. The Hiking and Horse Trail join below the summit of Assiniboine Pass (at 22.4 km). The Hiking Trail access on Assiniboine Pass will be restricted to groups of 4 or more and you must get a special permit in Banff to use this route during those times. This closure is part of the Allenby Pass restricted access policy to reduce exposure by hikers to grizzly bears feeding on buffalo berries. You do not need a special permit to hike on the Horse Trail to Assiniboine Pass. (see http://www2.parkscanada.gc.ca/docs/v-g/ourgest-bearmanag/sec4/org... )
The Horse Trail is steep. Keep Left. At 22.4 km the Hiking Trail will join the Horse Trail. Further up on a flat section there is a horse trail branching off to the right. GO STRAIGHT AHEAD ON THE HIKING TRAIL (West) up the final hill to Assiniboine Pass (23 km). Do not follow the old Horse Trail (which angles to the right of the flat section and follows the base of Cave Mountain and leads to Og Meadows). At Assiniboine Pass there is a B.C. Parks information booth and a bench. You have now crossed the Great Divide into British Columbia. From Assiniboine Pass it is a 3 km hike or ski to Mount Assiniboine Lodge and the Naiset Huts (this section is well-signed). The Naiset Huts for campers are a five-minute walk beyond Assiniboine Lodge (500 meters). The Naiset Huts have a reservation system in the summer managed by Assiniboine Lodge ($20.00 per person per night if you pre-reserve). There will be a custodian on duty. If you have not reserved, you can check at the Naiset Huts to see if there is any drop-in space available.
The Magog Campground is a 20 minute walk West beyond Assiniboine Lodge along the rim of Lake Magog. The campgrounds cost $5.00 per person/per night. The Magog and Og Campground have a self-registration system.
You must register in at Assiniboine Lodge if you have a reservation for the Hind Hut (for climbers).
The Most Popular Summer Route
Out-Wonder Pass- Bryant Creek-Mount Shark Day Use Area
NOTE - This is not a winter route!
Distance: 28 km (17 miles)
Elevation Gain: 205 meters (670 feet)
Elevation Loss: 580 meters (1,900 feet)- mainly down Wonder Pass
Maximum Elevation: 2395 meters (7,850 feet)
Topographical Maps: Spray Lakes Reservoir 82N/14 and Mount Assiniboine 82J/13
Departure Point: Mount Assiniboine Lodge, the Naiset Huts, the Magog Campground
Many people hike in Assiniboine Pass and hike out over Wonder Pass. After leaving the lodge hike past the Naiset Huts and follow the trail to Wonder Pass. At Wonder Pass the trail continues into Banff National Park in subalpine terrain. After the first view of Marvel Lake the trail descends in a series of switchbacks to the bottom of the valley. The scenery on this route is spectacular. Glaciated peaks send cascades of water to the turquoise blue waters of Lake Gloria below to the right. Above Marvel Lake take the high trail to the left (the trail heading straight down to Marvel Lake crosses the west end of Marvel Lake and connects with the Marvel Pass Trail). The Wonder Pass Trail traverses across a number of large avalanche slopes on the southern flanks of Wonder Peak. It connects with the Bryant Creek/Assiniboine Pass Trail at the Bryant Creek Warden's Cabin. Turn right down Bryant Creek. You will pass The Bryant Creek Hiker's Shelter (13.6 km), BR13, the Owl Lake Junction (12 km), BR 9- Big Springs Campground (9.6 km) The trail continues to drop down through a jack pine forest. At Trail Centre (6.7 km-a Banff National Park Warden's Cabin), a road intersects the trail at the top of the hill (to the right). Keep following the trail down the hill, and across the Bryant Creek Bridge (6.6 km). The trail continues to meander up and down through the woods. The Palliser Pass (6 km) trail will be on your right. Head left across the Upper Spray River Bridge (5.9 km). The trail goes up a steep hill and becomes a road as you approach Watridge Lake/Karst (3.7 km). Follow this old logging road back to the Mount Shark Day Use Area.
Sunshine Village-Citadel Pass-Mount Assiniboine
OPTIONS TO FLY IN GEAR IF YOU ARE HIKING TO ASSINIBOINE
Distance (38.5 km- 26 miles- if you walk from the gondola parking lot)
Elevation Gain: 685 meter gain (2,055 feet)- from the gondola parking lot
Maximum Elevation: 2,360 meters (7,750 feet)
Topographical Maps Mount Assiniboine 82 J/13 and Banff 82 O/4).
Point of Departure: The Gondola Parking Lot below Sunshine Village
Sunshine Village-Rock Isle Lake- Citadel Pass-Golden Valley-Valley of The Rocks-Og Lake-Assiniboine
Getting to Sunshine Village
Drive 9 km (5.5 miles) West of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Sunshine Village interchange. Drive to the Sunshine Village parking lot at the bottom of the gondola (9 km). From the Sunshine Parking Lot you can hike the 6.5 km road to Sunshine Village or buy a seat on the White Mountain Adventures Sunshine Shuttle Bus (www.whitemountainadventures.com, 1 403 762-7889). The White Mountain Adventure shuttle bus begins July 1st (weather permitting) and ends September 30th. Cost-2009 rates: $25 for adults to ride to Sunshine Village from the Sunshine Parking Lot (children 3-12- $15). Shuttles to Sunshine Village from the Sunshine parking lot begin at 8:00 am (you must make advance reservations for the early bus). The bus shuttles back and forth every hour. Check the White Mountain Adventures website for more information (www.whitemountainadventures.com)
Follow the trail from the Sunshine Interpretive Center up to the alpine meadows of the Great Divide (2,300 meters-1.2 km). At 1.3 km turn left to go to Citadel Pass (Rock Isle Lake is to the right). After crossing a ridge underneath Quartz Hill the trail drops down to a campsite on the shores of Howard Douglas Lake (5.8 km), with a spectacular view of Mount Assiniboine (3,610 meters, 11,844 feet). If you camp at Howard Douglas Lake you will need an Overnight Wilderness Pass from the Banff National Park Information Center ($9.80 + $11.70 Reservation fee).
Make sure you carry enough water to get through Valley of the Rocks- you might want to fill your bottles at Howard Douglas Lake. On the summit of Citadel Pass (2,360 meters-at 9.3 km) a side trail to Fatigue Pass branches uphill to the left. Continue straight ahead on the on the Og Lake/Assiniboine Trail. There is a steep descent down Citadel Pass towards the Simpson River. Campers spending the night at Porcupine, or Policeman's Meadows (16.5 km) continue down to the bottom of the valley. Policeman's Meadows is too far off the main trail to make the detour to camp there.
If you are not camping at Porcupine, follow the traverse on the steep open sidehill of Golden Valley- this is the most direct route to Valley of the Rocks. The Valley of the Rocks is a bizarre jumble of rocks from an ancient landslide. There is no water in this 6 km section- be sure to carry water! Og Lake (22.2 km), with a spectacular view of Mount Assiniboine, is the end of Valley of the Rocks. There is camping at Og Lake with a self-registration system ($5.00 per person per night).
The Og Campground is less crowded than the Magog Campground, especially during high season. You will cross Og Meadows after leaving Og Lake and reach a junction at 5.1 km near Mount Assiniboine Lodge. If you are going to the Naiset Huts turn left at this junction. You will see Assiniboine Lodge in a few minutes. The Naiset Huts for campers are a five-minute walk beyond Assiniboine Lodge (500 meters). The Naiset Huts have a reservation system in the summer ($20.00 per person per night). There will be a custodian on duty. If you have not reservation, you can check at the Naiset Huts to see if there is any drop-in space available.
If you are going straight to the Magog Campground, continue heading West for 1.6 km on the trail above Lake Magog. The Magog Campground has a self-registration system ($5.00 per person per night). A custodian from Mount Assiniboine Lodge will come by in the afternoon or evening to provide information for campers.