The Skyline Trail is located south of the townsite of Jasper in Jasper National Park in Alberta. This mountain region is accessible via a truly spectacular trail crossing beautiful alpine meadows and ascending over several passes. Renowned for its scenery and resident wildlife, the area is resident to Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Caribou, Mountain Goats, Marmots and many others. Alpine wild flowers are in full bloom by late July and into August. The highest pass on the Skyline trail is called the Notch. From here the full skyline is visible as the route follows a safe but exposed ridge.
[2-Stream on Skyline trail]
The Skyline trail has horseback trips ranging from 3 to 4 days. Shovel Pass is home to Jasper Park's oldest backcountry horse camp: The Shovel Pass Camp. For the slightly more energetic hikers wishing to hike the trail but without the burden of carrying any gear, they may have it packed into the Shovel Pass Camp on horseback. Private cabin accommodation is available here mid June to mid September. Guided trail rides to the Shovel pass lodge .
[3-Stream on Skyline Trail]
The Shovel Pass Lodge received its name from the shovels the original railroad surveyors carved from trees in 1911 to dig out the heavy snows along a pack trail they had created from the railway head. Many of those shovels were left as trail markers, and others are now displayed at the museum in Jasper.
[4-Pine Nuts - click to enlarge]
The Skyline trail is considered difficult, covering a distance of 45 km with an elevation gain of 1,380 m (4,526 ft) and a maximum elevation of 2,490 m. The best time to tackle this trail is in summer or fall.
[5-Cow Moose - click to enlarge]
There are two trailheads: one at Maligne Canyon at the North end and Maligne Lake for the Southern end. The preferred direction is to start at the south and head north as the southern trailhead is a few hundred metres higher than the north. Half of the trail is above the treeline for great views and often in colder temperatures due to altitude.
There are six campsites on the trail. Due to the delicate nature of the area there is a ‘leave no trace’ practice in effect, thus no campfires and what you pack in, you pack out. Reservations must be made in advance to stay at the campsites. There are camping fees. Information can be found here.
The trail from the trailhead at Maligne Lake to Evelyn Creek campground is 4.8 km of forest.
After crossing the bridge the trail begins a steady elevation gain with many switchbacks leading to the Little Shovel campground at 10.3 km.
[9-Breaking out of trees]
[12-View toward Maligne Lake]
[13-Southeast view toward Maligne Lake]
[14-South view from Skyline Trail]
[16-South view from Skyline Trail]
[20-Waterfall in distance]
[21-Trail toward Little Shovel Pass]
[22-Little Shovel Pass in sight]
[23-Good spot to have a break]
Photo Credits: -LazyGun CC=nc-sa-flickr, -brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr, -Evan
CC=nc-nd-flickr, -Leto A CC=nc-sa-flickr.