Best Backpacking Trails in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is located at the northern end of the Canadian Rockies. It is a mountainous national park that features some of the best backpacking trips to be experienced in all of Canada. I have hand selected my favorite multi-day trips in Jasper National Park. I have experienced all of these trails first hand, so I can personally vouch for the greatness of these trails.

Considering the trails are all located in a national park, camping reservations need to be completed prior to your trip. These must be done through Parks Canada directly, and can be done online or via the information center. Jasper is a popular backpacking location, and some campgrounds may sell out months in advance. If you are planning a trip, it is recommended to book in advance, especially for popular trails such as the Skyline Trail and the Tonquin Valley.

All of these trails are located in bear country, so bear knowledge is required, and the usage of bear lockers is necessary when camping in the backcountry. It is always recommended to carry bear spray with you at all times and to know how to use it.

Tonquin Valley

Days: 2 – 4 days
Distance: 26.2 miles / 42.2 km
Elevation: 3,169ft / 966m

Tonquin Valley is the crown jewel of backpacking in Jasper National Park. Stunning Rampart Range is the treat that you are rewarded with and is the highlight of the trail. When you venture into the Tonquin Valley, you may even be treated to a sight of the shy and endangered mountain caribou.

This trail requires either a car shuttle or two cars parked at either end if you want to complete the full trail. If you wanted to complete an out and back trip, then I would recommend starting and finishing at the Edith Cavell trailhead.

There are three separate backcountry huts located in the Tonquin Valley, and you can choose from catered or self-catering options. The Alpine Club of Canada has the Wates-Gibson Hut; and, there are two private outfitters, Tonquin Valley Backcountry Lodge and Tonquin Valley Adventures. With many campgrounds available to reserve, you can complete this hike in a minimum of two days or stretch it out to be as long as you desire.

If you enjoy backcountry fishing, then Amethyst Lake has excellent fishing. During peak summer the mosquitos are relentless. I would highly recommend bringing a mosquito net and mosquito coils to help you to keep your sanity from the pesky little creatures.

Fryatt Valley

Days: 2 – 3 days
Distance: 26.6 miles / 36.8 km
Elevation: 2,139 ft / 652m

This is an out and back trail that takes hikers through diverse alpine landscapes. There are three campgrounds that you will pass on the trail. The Alpine Club of Canada has the Sydney Vallance hut that overlooks the Fryatt Valley. This hut is also open in the winter months making Fryatt Valley both a summer and winter adventure.

Depending on where you camp, make sure you continue to hike with a smaller pack up to the bright blue Fryatt Lake and then up the headwall. The headwall is a grueling one-kilometer climb straight up, however, the views from the top are worth it. Once you reach the hut, make sure you visit the fairy pools, which are located at the top of the headwall. Local porcupines live in this area, so keep an eye out for them on your trip.

Big Bend

Length: 2 days
Distance: 7.8 miles / 12.6 km return
Elevation: 436 ft / 133m

Big Bend is perfect for a quick one night trip, family backcountry adventure or for a first-time backcountry explorer. The trail starts at the stunning Sunwapta Falls, and you continue to follow the old fire road until you reach Big Bend campground. This is when you will be treated to the first views of the beautiful Athabasca Valley. The Athabasca River surrounds the campground and features huge mountains visible from your tent.

If you are looking for an easy getaway then Big Bend is fantastic bang for your buck. Mountain bikes are allowed on this trail, so if you are wanting to switch it up and bike instead of hiking, then this is a great option.

Skyline Trail

Days: 2-3 days
Distance: 25.9 miles / 40.9 km
Elevation: 4,921 ft / 1,500m

The famous Skyline trail is the most popular trail in Jasper National Park. Reservations for this trail are hard to come by, and the most desirable sites sell out on the day that backcountry reservations open (which is normally sometime in January).

This is the highest backpacking trail in Jasper, and you will be treated to some of the best alpine hiking in all of Canada. Over 12 miles of this trail are above the tree line, and the unparalleled views of the national park will leave you wanting more.

This is a one-way trail, and I recommend that you leave your car at the North Skyline trailhead and take the shuttle down to Maligne Lake where you will start the trail. There is a backcountry hut located in the middle of the trail if you are looking for a more luxurious place to stay. The Shovel Pass Lodge provides both accommodation and meals.

Brazeau Loop

Days: 4-5 days
Distance: 51.1 miles / 82.2 km
Elevation: 9,344 ft / 2,848m

The Brazeau Loop is located in the southern section of Jasper National Park and borders the White Goat Wilderness area. This backpacking loop crosses over three mountain passes and is recommended for experienced backpackers. It is a less popular trail than the others included in this list and is considered a hidden gem of Jasper.

The trail is best hiked counter clockwise to avoid excessive elevation gain. The trail starts and finishes at the Nigel Creek trailhead on the Icefields Parkway. Brazeau Lake is a famous backcountry fishing lake, so make sure to bring your rod with you. The highlight of the trail is the stunning Jonas Pass and Jonas Shoulder. Jonas Pass trails through sub-alpine terrain and features stunning alpine lakes that dot the landscape.

If these trail recommendations have got you craving an adventure in the backcountry, why not check out our expertly curated backpacking trip suggestions.