Posted by: James Shannon | February 2, 2012

Treks And Trails: Old Fort Point, Jasper National Park

Near the base of the Old Fort Point hiking trail, just south of Jasper Townsite.  A popular local hike, it can be tackled as a short-term burst of mountain scrambling, or as a longer leisurely stroll through the montaine woods via the back part of the loop.

When one gets settled in Jasper, and they have had their fill of the mainstream attractions (Tramway, Maligne Lake, Icefields, etc.), their thoughts naturally turn to the abundance of hiking trails in the immediate vicinity of the townsite.  There are a ton of options to burn off all the high calorie treats available in Jasper’s many internationally renowned eateries, but a local favourite is that little nub of land rising slightly above the Athabasca River just south of town — Old Fort Point.

For such a short-medium length hike, this route is full of value for the athletically-inclined (or patient) visitor, as it affords spectacular views of the entire Athabasca Valley, without punishing yourself by climbing 5-10,000 vertical feet.  If you come to Jasper with the intent of checking out some of the self-guided trekking on offer, you MUST not miss this trail!

Getting There: Walk/bike/drive Connaught Drive (the street that parallels the railroad) until you reach the stoplight (there’s only two in town – the other at the Trans-Canada Highway) at the intersection of Connaught and Hazel.  Turn onto Hazel and cross the railroad, and then proceed to the intersection with the Trans-Canada Highway.  Cross the highway and continue on the road (now highway 93A) until you reach a road that is signed as leading to Old Fort Point.  Take that road.

If you are walking or biking, there is a spur trail (Red Squirrel Run I believe is the new name for it!) … take this route, as it will shave time off the road route, keeps you safe from vehicular traffic, and affords riverbank views of the Athabasca.  Park your bike/car in the parking lot.

The Hike: Now, you have two options.  You can choose to do the leisurely (and longer hike) through the woods, around to the backside of Old Fort Point, with less strenuous grades … or you can hop on Jasper’s stairmaster, and grind your way up the steep north face of the hill!  I recommend the latter, as it’s quicker, more of a workout, and is instantly gratifying to your visual senses (and your camera lenses!)

 Welcome to Old Fort Point … you were expecting a relaxing stroll in the mountains? Ha. Haha. AHHHHAHAHAHAHA!  Prepare your hamstrings/quads/glutes mere mortals, it gets worse! 🙂

 Ascending the hill/mountain, great views of the west slope of Pyramid Mounatin urge the climber on, spell-binding views distracting from the punishment being meted out by the mountain…

 Marmot Basin, one day removed from closing at the time of this hike, sits still largely coated in a velvety coat of white.

 Mount Edith Cavell, one of the most iconic sights in the Jasper area, looms large along the eastern slope of the main range of the Rocky Mountains.  The peak remains snow-covered all year round, not surprising as most of the time, its socked in by clouds (where it is likely snowing on top).  When it does make an appearance, it blows away many newcomers to the area … it still blows me away from time to time also!

 A quartet of bighorn sheep ewes chill out on the grass just below the summit of Old Fort Point.  Always grazing on the grasses of this place keeps the profile of the fields putting-green short … who needs a lawnmower when you have these guys!

 Blissing out in the grass behind the main summit of Old Fort Point … yes, I checked for sheep/elk poo before plunking my butt down! 😛

 The peak of Old Fort Point, with Mount Tekkara looming in the background … if you can’t tackle big mountains on your Rocky Mountain holiday, you can least bag the former peak!

 The sublime beauty of Old Fort Point

Jasper Townsite, as viewed from Old Fort Point … check this mini-peak out even if you only have time to do one hike during your stay in Jasper Nation Park … it’ll be an afternoon you won’t soon forget!

As with the hostel/guesthouse review feature started last post, look for more hikes/treks in the weeks and months to come … in the future, I will feature jaunts from places other than Jasper, hence the open titling of this inaugural post!

My current location has me in Koh Phangan, in the Gulf of Thailand … once I get around to some more travel posts, there should be tonnes of amazing content from the adventures I’ve had in the past two weeks, so stick around for that as well!

Seven days to the Full Moon Party, woohoo!

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Responses

  1. Amazing hike and photos!

    • Thanks, mucho appreciated!


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