Wilcox Pass

Jasper, Alberta

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4 Reviews
5 out of 5
This is an easy day hike to a broad alpine pass with stunning views of the Columbia Icefield. The hike is located above the Columbia Icefield Visitor Center near the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks. The trail is not on the Continental Divide, but features excellent views of the divide and the Columbia Icefield. This 6.8-mile (11.6 km) day hike offers more than its share of alpine scenery, yet the hike itself is not too demanding, particularly if you stop for lunch at the top. Take along a warm hat and a jacket; even in mid-summer, days can be cool and wind or rain raises the risk of hypothermia. Until the turn of the century, glaciers filled the valley where the Icefields Parkway now runs and Wilcox Pass was the route trappers and outfitters took over Sunwapta Divide. The pass can be hiked from either direction, but the southern trailhead is the more scenic approach to the pass. The trail switchbacks steeply for roughly 1.2 miles (2 km) through an old growth forest of subalpine firs before leveling off on a high bench overlooking the Columbia Icefield to the west. From here to the pass itself, the trail meanders through alpine tundra and around melt water ponds.
Best Hikes along the Continental Divide

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Best Hikes along the Continental Divide

by Russ Schneider, editor (Falcon Guides)

This is an easy day hike to a broad alpine pass with stunning views of the Columbia Icefield. The hike is located above the Columbia Icefield Visitor Center near the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks. The trail is not on the Continental Divide, but features excellent views of the divide and the Columbia Icefield.

This 6.8-mile (11.6 km) day hike offers more than its share of alpine scenery, yet the hike itself is not too demanding, particularly if you stop for lunch at the top. Take along a warm hat and a jacket; even in mid-summer, days can be cool and wind or rain raises the risk of hypothermia. Until the turn of the century, glaciers filled the valley where the Icefields Parkway now runs and Wilcox Pass was the route trappers and outfitters took over Sunwapta Divide. The pass can be hiked from either direction, but the southern trailhead is the more scenic approach to the pass.

The trail switchbacks steeply for roughly 1.2 miles (2 km) through an old growth forest of subalpine firs before leveling off on a high bench overlooking the Columbia Icefield to the west. From here to the pass itself, the trail meanders through alpine tundra and around melt water ponds.

©  Russ Schneider, editor/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Jasper
Distance: 6.8
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Easy
Season: Best July through September
Local Contacts: Jasper National Park (403) 852-6176
Local Maps: Jasper National Park; Columbia Icefield 83 C/3, Sunwapta Peak 83 C/6
Driving Directions: Directions to Wilcox Pass

Recent Trail Reviews

8/30/2007
0

This hike is one of the best mountain hikes for the effort. Only about 45 minutes to get up and then the rest is pretty flat. We spent a total of about 5 1/2 hours on the hike and made it to the pass and back including time spent exploring and wathcing the sheep. (This included our 10 year old who was pretty tired afterwards.) Exceptional views of the glaciers that "regular tourists" never see. Plus the opportunity to see a herd of Big Horn Sheep.


8/1/2007
0

on a cool sunny summer day, great place from where to see the Columbia Icefield


8/17/2003
0

This has to be one of the best day hikes in North America. A friend and I hiked this one afternoon. At the top of the trail near the meadow we looked to the west and could see what looked like steam coming from the icefield. Clouds were forming from the evaporation of water from the melting ice. The wind was blowing the clouds in our direction and we felt sprinkles from the icefield! Absolutely spectacular sight! And the high meadow at the top is vast and gorgeous. Will hike this one again.


9/21/2001
0

Excellent Day Hike. Starts climbing right out of the parking lot for about 1.5 miles then levels out to a more moderate climb though an apline meadow to the summit of the Pass. There were great views of the Columbia Icefields from the trail. We also came across a herd of Big Horn Sheep, that were close enough to photograph. At the summit you can explore the long broad valley while searching for wildlife. You have two choices at the summit, either return the way you came, or to fallow the valley and join find the trail to Tangle Falls. This ends at the road just on the other side of The Columbia Icefields. From here you can return by by of the road or by retracing your tracks over the pass back to the trail head. The summit and back is an easy day hike. The other options are also day hikes but you need to be quite fit and start early.



Trail Photos

Activity Feed

May 2018