Athabasca Glacier Hiking Trail

Athabasca Glacier Hiking Trail Map

Athabasca Glacier Hiking Trail Map of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM


A = Icefield Centre / Glacier View Inn
B = Athabasca Glacier Forefield Parking Lot by a gate
C = Parking Lot to Toe of the Athabasca Glacier
D = Toe of the Athabasca Glacier (final destination)

There are two trails hiking up to the Toe of Athabasca Glacier: one short and one long.

Trail #1: point B to D
Distance: 2km to the toe of the glacier and back; 30-60min
Trailhead: park your car at point B

The trail crosses the forefield of the glacier: the barren area exposed by glacial melt since the mid-1840s. It’s a strange landscape of bare rock, boulders and moraines. Conditions are extreme here, but hardy alpine plants have gained a foothold. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a jacket for crossing this rocky, breezy terrain. Be prepared to turn back: meltwater streams flow across the trail, and on warmer days they can get large enough to cause problems.

Trail #2: point C to D
Distance: 1km return; 20-30min
Trailhead: park your car at point C

The trail begins by the interpretive signs in the southwest corner of the lot. Bring a jacket, gloves and a warm cap to ward off the cold glacial wind. Wear sunglasses to reduce glare from icefield. Once across the bridge over a meltwater stream from the glacier, you’re walking at times on glacially smoothed limestone surfaces that were under the ice in the 1950s. Scratches and gouges in the rock are aligned with the ice flow.

The trail steepens and reaches the top of a rock bench, where you can see the edge of the glacier just ahead. By all means, approach the iceit’s wonderful to be able to actually touch a glacier but watch where you put your feet! Avoid any places that look wet. You can plunge past your ankles into water-saturated mud known locally as glacial goop. And if you go on the ice itself, stay in the safe area. Read the warning box beside the map.

Read more on Icefields Parkway Travel Guide.

Athabasca Glacier Forefield Trail

Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1908 along Forefield Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM

June 1, 2011: This was where Athabasca Glacier Toe sat in 1908. The glacier has been receding a lot, year by year!

Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1925 along Forefield Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAM TSAI . COM

June 1, 2011: Position of Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1925

Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1935 along Forefield Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM

June 1, 2011: Position of Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1935

Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1942 along Forefield Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAM TSAI . COM

June 1, 2011: Position of Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1942

Toe of Athabasca Glacier Hiking Trail

Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1992 along Forefield Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM

June 1, 2011: Position of Athabasca Glacier Toe in 1992

Hiking Trail to Toe of Athabasca Glacier of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAM TSAI . COM

June 1, 2011: This is the beginning section of hiking trail to the toe of Athabasca Glacier. This section is quite steep and still covered with snow!!! Very slippery!!!

Icefield Centre / Glacier View Inn Viewed from Athabasca Glacier Hiking Trail of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM

June 1, 2011: Looking back to Icefield Centre / Glacier View Inn

Hiking Trail to Toe of Athabasca Glacier of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAM TSAI . COM

June 1, 2011: Taking a break :D

Hiking Trail to Toe of Athabasca Glacier of Columbia Icefield - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada | SAMTSAI.COM

June 1, 2011: Dancing at the toe of Athabasca Glacier

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