Wilcox Pass Topo Map

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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.

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