For a fabulous multi-day backpacking trip that includes an incredible alpine traverse, trek the Brazeau Loop path in the southern part of Jasper National Park. The trail crosses 3 passes as it loops through a landscape of wildflower filled meadows, passing various mountain peaks and the stunning, turquoise-coloured Brazeau Lake– a big backcountry lake along the route.
The Brazeau Loop trail remains in an area that is supposedly wildlife abundant– though the only animals we saw were some marmots, a deer though a grizzly grunted at us a couple of times from the trees by Brazeau Lake. Still, keep your eyes open for elk, moose, grizzly bears, wolves, mountain caribou, deer, cougars and even wolverine. We heard reports of individuals seeing wolves.
A lovely section of the Brazeau Loop trail on the way to the Jonas Cutoff Campground
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Brazeau Loop Trail information
Overall range: 80 km
Day 2: Four Point Campground to Brazeau Lake Campground.
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Campgrounds and range from Nigel Pass trailhead: Boulder Creek (10.7 km), Four Point (13.8 km), Brazeau River (29.3 km), Brazeau Lake (32.3 km), John-John (39.4 km), Jonas Cutoff (46.9 km).
Range: 13.9 km.
Before you head out inspect the path report.
Bring bear spray and understand what to do if you fulfill a bear..
I would advise scheduling camping areas from the middle of July onwards as snow sticks around into early July on the passes. Be prepared for snow at any time on the hike, even in the middle of summer. You can book online here however youll need to wait till sometime in April to book for summer season 2022.
From Four Point Campground you can trek in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Both are scenic and there is no right or incorrect instructions to trek it however there is more vertical gain if you trek it clockwise. A lot of individuals hike it counterclockwise, heading to Brazeau Lake after Four Point. Described listed below is the counterclockwise loop that begins at the Nigel Creek Trailhead.
Canines are not allowed on the Jonas Pass trail past the Four Points campground since of caribou. I believe you can trek along the Brazeau River with your pet dog but they are not allowed in the Brazeau River camping area.
Take topographical maps with you, even if you use treking apps. Gem Treks Columbia Icefield covers the south half of the walking. The Sunwapta Peak map covers the north half.
From there, the views amaze and on a clear day they would be a few of the best in the Canadian Rockies. You need to have the ability to see Jonas Pass, Sunwapta Peak, Poboktan Mountain, various unnamed peaks and both glaciers and rock glaciers galore. Its a high 290 m descent off Jonas Shoulder until the grade moderates.
Area of the Nigel Creek Trailhead.
Very little water streaming in the Brazeau River in mid-August.
Parking lot for the Brazeau Loop Th.
Passing a mass of stones from a previous rock slide.
Follow a dirt fire roadway for the parking lot for about 1.8 km. Watch out for check in the trees indicating the Brazeau Loop and Nigel Pass. Follow the trail to Nigel Creek and cross it on a substantial log bridge. Continue up through ancient subalpine forest to reach Camp Parker at 2.1 km at the top of the bank above Nigel and Hilda Creeks. Youll see trees with carvings– the work of travelers who journeyed along the Icefields Parkway in the 1940s.
Into an area with stunning wildflowers in brief order.
I always load an enthusiast as its a multi-purpose piece of fabric that keeps your hair in location on a windy day, works like a neck warmer or beanie and yet it uses up practically no room.
Then there is a rock hopping area with five streams you need to cross. They get there start as meltwater from the glacial cirques on the west side of the valley. A lot of you can hop across with boots on however I became my water shoes on one celebration– which was refreshing on the feet..
Evening light by the Four Point campground.
Walking 3.1 km parallel to the river to reach the Four Point Campground.
We merely retraced our actions to go back to the Nigel Pass trailhead. Despite the fact that it was smoky and the views werent very great, I felt lucky that we d had as numerous days with clear skies as we did– thinking about the kind of summertime it had been. It took us just over 4 hours, partly since our knapsacks were that much lighter, and we were expecting the comfort of a safety seat.
Total elevation gain and loss: 1878 m (6161 feet).
Description of my 5-day Brazeau Loop trek.
Jonas Pass, marked by a big cairn, is a long one– a valley extending for some 9 kilometres. For numerous hours take pleasure in a big carefully rolling area of meadowland with views of glacial cirques, streams, lakelets and ponds.
From the Brazeau River turn left and do a brief climb through an assortment of boulders– residues of a rockslide. (There is an unmaintained trail that goes right to the White Goat Wilderness Area– and its supposed to be a stunner!) Delight in a fantastic view of the Brazeau Valley prior to you make the high descent to the Brazeau River. Follow the path along the river to reach a bridge and the Boulder Creek Campsite with four websites and a fire pit. This would be an option to Four Point with at least eight sites (it seemed like more).
Brazeau Lake at sunset.
The walking leaves the Jonas Cutoff camping site and begins climbing up slowly on a boot beaten path through a vibrant forest pictured below, that is filled with wildflowers. Look for cairns as you direct. Your objective is the top of a scree slope that ends at Jonas Shoulder, a rocky ridge top..
The last climb up to Nigel Pass is high– however it does pay for excellent views of Mt. Saskatchewan and Parker Ridge. Drop down to the Brazeau River.
The cooking area at the Brazeau Lake Campground.
Day one to Four Point Campground via Nigel Pass.
The Brazeau Loop trail is in an area that is supposedly wildlife rich– though the only animals we saw were some marmots, a deer though a grizzly grunted at us a couple of times from the trees by Brazeau Lake. Enjoy a fantastic view of the Brazeau Valley prior to you make the high descent down to the Brazeau River. Youll pass a bridge crossing to the east side of Brazeau River– however that leads to Wolverine Campground so disregard it. We stopped at the Brazeau River Campground, 15.5 km from Four Point– to have a break and examine it out. Its another 3.0 km of up and down through the trees with either Brazeau River or Brazeau Lake views to reach the Brazeau Lake Campground.
Range: 14.6 km.
En route to Four Point Campground.
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Crossing the North Fork Brazeau River.
It was a very smoky morning for the hike out to the Nigel Pass trailhead.
You can wander down to sandy beaches along Brazeau Lake– but we couldnt get too far. A grizzly in the trees grunted at us– though we never saw it. It had actually appeared at the lake by a dozing sunbathing couple a couple of hours previously– so they had to beat a rash retreat..
Brazeau Lake to Jonas Pass Cutoff Campground.
It cleared a bit by the time we picked up lunch.
For those of you with bad knees, you might discover lightweight treking poles helpful. They also can be found in convenient on stream crossings. Be sure to buy the retractable ones.
Enjoying among the primarily flat areas prior to we begin a steep descent to Four Point Campground.
Directing through the rock towards Four Point Campground.
Crossing the Brazeau River simply a couple of hundred metres from Boulder Creek Campground.
Quite the contrast in colours north of Poboktan Pass.
Backtrack about a half a kilometre to reach a bridge throughout the North Fork Brazeau River. Start climbing up gradually through a rock-strewn valley to reach the John Creek Bridge, around 4.2 km from the Brazeau Lake camping area.
The Wolverine camping area on the east side of the Brazeau River, between Four Point and Brazeau River, is for horse usage only.
Smoke beginning to settle in over the Jonas Cutoff Campground.
Next up is a pretty open forest where the fortunate among you might see a caribou. After that youve got four more steep kilometres to go and the majority of it remains in fir forest. Look for drumlins– teardrop shaped mounds of glacial debris. I found this part of the descent to be tedious, probably since it was completion of a long day.
Number of days required: 5– 7.
If you were to increase this area of the Brazeau Loop trail from the Four Point camping area, you would find that all but 3.2 km of the 18.9 km was uphill– and its extremely high. For us, all however 3.3 km was downhill– and the majority of it was easy to moderate other than for the last couple of kilometres as we made our method to the Four Point campground.
Descending from broad Poboktan Pass.
Day 5: Four Point Campground to Nigel Pass Trailhead.
Lovely treking out of the trees above Jonas Cutoff campground.
The Jonas Cutoff camping site is at a higher elevation than others so its chillier and youre more likely to run into severe weather. In theory there are 8 campgrounds, with lots of close to the river, however in truth, there were much more people camping here when we checked out.
Evening sunset without smoke on the Brazeau Loop Trail.
The climbing up starts in earnest the minute you leave the John camping site. Its high going through fir forest for the very first kilometre or 2 en route to Poboktan Pass at an elevation of 2304 m. After that you have lots of kilometres of superb treking around the gentle pass– past masses of wildflowers with mountains in all instructions. Youll probably see or hear some marmots around here. I might have spent a day roaming around this location..
Really pleasant hiking along the Brazeau River.
Distance: 13.9 km.
Drive 37 km north on the Icefields Parkway from Saskatchewan River Crossing or 8.5 km south from Sunwapta Pass on the Banff– Jasper National Park boundary. The trailhead is on the northeast side of the highway, on a dirt accessed road. If youre driving southbound, its a very tough and awkward turn, especially if there is anyone behind you.
Range: 18.5 km.
Another good addition for those of you who enjoy wildflowers is the book Popular Wildflowers of Alberta and the Canadian Rockies.
We could see smoke can be found in as we headed to bed at the Jonas Cutoff camping site so I wasnt positive about the views we d see the next day. And undoubtedly, we remained in smoke that was thick at times, however a minimum of it cleared a bit at lunch time.
Signage on the way to Brazeau Lake.
Distance: 18.9 km.
We stopped at the Brazeau River Campground, 15.5 km from Four Point– to have a break and examine it out. Its on the river with no views. There is an outhouse, bear-proof lockers, a picnic table and room for 4 tents..
Looking up the Brazeau River from near the Four Point camping site.
Crossing the Brazeau River.
You need to rise the switchbacks to reach Jonas Shoulder.
On the house stretch on the Brazeau River loop.
An area through tight trees.
Helpful details about the Brazeau Loop Trail.
A couple of things you may desire for the walking.
We saw numerous marmots around a creek just prior to we climbed the scree slope.
Its another 3.0 km of up and down through the trees with either Brazeau River or Brazeau Lake views to reach the Brazeau Lake Campground. The camping area itself is rather terrific, even though the tent pads are off in the woods. The cooking location and bear lockers have a prime place with good views of the lake.
An appearance at the stones you trek by on the way to and from Four Point Campground.
Leaving the Brazeau River Campground.
Heading for Nigel Pass.
Sublime treking en route to Poboktan Pass.
Stunning views even with smoke boiling down off Jonas Shoulder.
Reach the Jonas Pass junction, just 100 m from the camping site. Youre back in familiar territory now.
Good signs on the Brazeau Loop Trail.
Looking down the valley in the direction of Brazeau Lake.
Jonas Cutoff Campground to Four Point Campground.
The Four Point Campground is a little worn however it remains in a beautiful area near to the river.
The Jonas Pass Junction is only about 100 m past the Four Point Campground. On the counterclockwise loop, youll reach this spot at the end of the 4th day. However for now, continue along a well-defined path, passing the Four Point warden cabin and crossing Four Point Creek..
Continue, hiking through willows parallel to the river, enjoying beautiful valley views. Youll pass a bridge crossing to the east side of Brazeau River– however that leads to Wolverine Campground so disregard it. You know youre getting near the Brazeau River Campground when youre climbing up and then coming down through a pine forest..
Crossing the Brazeau River near the Boulder Creek Campground.
From the pass descend 185 m through meadows to reach a bridge. Cross it and make your way to the Jonas Cutoff camping site. We discovered it to be a hectic one– as youll find that people treking the Great Divide path stay here (in some cases without reservations), together with individuals who are treking either up or down the Poboktan Creek Valley that ends on the Icefields Parkway..
More backpacking journeys in the Rockies you might like.
Without the smoke this would be one amazing view from Jonas Shoulder.
Up the valley on the way to John Campground.
We saw just about a half dozen people throughout the day.