Jasper National Park is huge. It covers some of the best terrain in the Canadian Rockies, and seeing it all on a vacation, even in a lifetime, is pretty much impossible. But if you want to get out and see a huge part of this beautiful country, you should try mountain biking Jasper.
You’ll get around faster and cover more area than you would on foot, but enjoy a more quiet, natural experience than you would from your car.
Distance: 13 km
Begin at Medecine Lake’s south end, at the Beaver Lake picnic area, and follow a lushly vegetated valley 5 km to the first Summit Lake. The going is pretty flat up to Beaver Lake, making for an easy ride suitable for just about anyone. The going to Jacques Lake can be somewhat difficult due to mud, if there’s been lots of rain or recent snowmelt.
Distance: 10 km
Jump on this bike trail 2 km up the Geraldine Fire Road at the Fryatt Valley parking lot. The trail cuts through a somewhat thick forest at a low elevation for the first 8.2 km, the ride includes several creek crossings. From the lower Fryatt campsite, you can hike another 10 km to the upper Fryatt Valley on foot.
Whirlpool Fire Road
Distance: 11.5 km
Driving down Hwy. 93A catch the Moab Lake turnoff and go to the Moab Lake parking lot. From there it is 8.5 km to the end of the fire road. You can hike or bike another 3 km from here to Tie Camp on foot.
Snake Indian Falls
Distance: 48 km
Drive down Celestine Lake Road to the Celestine Lake parking area where the North Boundary Trail begins. A nicely-graded gravel road goes from here for 22 km to Snake Indian Falls. Just 1 kilometre past the falls, the road becomes a heavily-trafficed trail to the Willow Creek area and the Rock Lake exit.
Fortress Lake Trail
Distance: 25 km
This ride begins at Sunwapta falls and following an old fire road. The trail is great for the first 16k, all the way to the Athabasca Crossing suspension bridge. After the bridge the biking gets pretty rough, but it is possible hike another 9 km to Fortress Lake.
Here’s are 7 Rules of the Road for mountain biking in Jasper, or anywhere, really:
- Plan it, darn it! Know your equipment, be honest about your abilities, and check up on the riding trail, preferably with a park ranger. Prepare accordingly. A little planning is often the difference between a horrible day and an awesome day.
- Stay in Control. Don’t go faster, or attempt terrain that you know you can’t handle. Always be attentive and mind bicycle regulations and recommendations.
- Leave no trace. It’s everyone’s park, so treat it with respect by following a few simple rules. Stay on maintained trails and don’t create new ones. Pack out what you pack in, and bonus points if you pack out some other jerk’s discarded rubbish.
- Don’t scare the wildlife. You don’t like it when someone sneaks up on you, and neither do wild animals. Usually, the repercussions of doing this with a bear are worse though. Avoid unannounced approaches, a sudden movements, or a loud a noises. These actions can be dangerous for you, others, and wildlife. Give wildlife space and time to adjust to you, and make some noise as you come down the trail.
- Ride open trails only. Respect the trail and avoid areas which are closed to bikes. They are closed for a reason. Seriously, no one is trying to hide trails from you just to ruin your vacation. Also, remember that the way you ride will influence Parks Canada trail management decisions and policies.
- Always yield the trail. Make your approach known well in advance. A greeting, a bell or some other noise is basic politeness; don’t startle others. Show respect when passing by, slowing to a walking pace or, if need be, stopping. Anticipate trail users around corners and in blind spots.
- Put a lid on it! Always wear a helmet.
Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.