Jasper, North Boundary Trail via Rock Lake
Back from a five day personal trip along Jasper's North Boundary Trail (with some side-trips to peaks near the trail). Late summer/early fall before snow arrives is a great time to be on the North Boundary; few to no bugs, quiet solitude, cool overnight temperatures that help to solidify some of the more muddy sections, and safer unbridged creek crossings (earlier in the summer-season conditions can be much less pleasant). Overall the trail we traveled from Rock Lake to Welbourne Campsite is in good condition (excepting a perennially soggy marshy km around the Wolf Pass junction), see below for more other details.
Rock Lake Access:
There was a washout on the Rock Lake access road this spring which was repaired this summer, we'll have to wait and see how it fares next spring. The road is suitable for any regular or high clearance vehicle (i.e. low clearance sports car would not fare well). Work crews were in the midst of brushing and regrading parts of the road as we were leaving. The front country campsites at Rock Lake are officially open until October 31st, but once snow starts to accumulate, access could become much more difficult. Also note that the trail in Jasper NP is legally closed as of November 1st for caribou conservation (see https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/jasper/nature/conservation/mesuresap-bc... ).
North Boundary Trail:
For anyone who has not been on the North Boundary Trail before, late summer/early fall is usually a great time for it; creek crossings are lower and marshy/muddy sections are less tedious. For our travel, the unbridged crossing of Rock Creek was a little over knee deep, with the majority of smaller crossings encountered either bridged or rock-hoppable (further down the trail there are unbridged crossings of Blue Creek, Gendarme Creek, and Carcajou Creek which we did not see but I suspect would be similar to Rock Creek). Sunny skies have dried out muddy patches, and horse parties earlier in the season have cut what deadfall was deposited across the trail. We saw a single moose, but numerous tracks and droppings suggest both a multitude of moose as well as deer in the area.
The North Boundary is not as glamorous as some other trails in JNP (topping out over 2000 m elevation only once over its ~130 km length from Rock Lake to Robson Pass), with much of the trail travelling through forest. The trail does however have a quiet beauty of its own and if solitude and serene subtle views are what you are after, it is worth a trip some year down the road.
ACMG Hiking Guide
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