Albertawow

Saskatchewan Glacier Hike

  Ratings:    Ratings 5 Star
Level: Moderate Time/Dist: 5 to 6 hours / 15K return Elevation Gain: 275m

Trailhead: Saskatchewan Glacier is located near the Columbia Icefields, 117kms south of Jasper and approximately 100kms north of Lake Louise. This is an unmarked unofficial trail. Park at the old abandoned concrete bridge just before big bend on the Jasper Park highway. Banff National Park. Don't attempt to access the route from the west parking area near the centre of big bend, it turns into a long miserable bushwhack.

Description: The gravel entrance to the old bridge is slowly eroding away and may be gone in a few years, consider parking in the big bend rest stop. Cross the old bridge and take the trail on your right which leads back west along the North Saskatchewan River. Drop down onto the gravel flats and follow the old road tracks until you reach the trees. Find the grown over old road that was built in the 1930's by the U.S. Army's 87th Mountain Division. The Army Division set up a camp on the Saskatchewan Glacier to test winter equipment. There are still old parts of vehicles scattered here and there. Logs that were used for this camp can still be found high up on the glacier. Follow the old road up through what used to be  the terminal moraine of the Saskatchewan Glacier. Keep in mind that this is the only practical route in and out of the entire valley so beware of bears. Grizzly Bears crossing over the Columbia Icefields area may pass through from Parker Ridge, Wilcox Pass and Castleguard Meadows. We ran into a Grizzly crossing the expansive ground moraine in the spring of 2010. Follow the old road down the other side until you arrive at the start of the valley. You'll see an old log food stash that was built by the Alpine Club of Canada in the 1950's.

There are two routes from here. The first and safest day hike route follows the existing old road straight ahead on the south Side of the North Saskatchewan River. This first route is absolutely beautiful but you cannot get as close to the Saskatchewan Glacier due to an impassable south lateral moraine. The second more dangerous route is mainly used by climbers. You'll have to cross a very nasty looking canyon that is bridged by a pile of old logs. The North Saskatchewan River disappears down this canyon and reappears back at big bend on the Jasper Park Highway. From the old food stash, follow a worn trail on your right towards a bunch of rotting logs that form a precarious bridge across the river canyon. Don't confuse the initial log jam as the bridge. The natural log bridge is a few meters further down from the log jamb. Be very careful here, if you fall into the canyon it is certain death. Over the years this natural bridge, has gone from one very large single log, to several smaller logs. It changes from year to year due to erosion and spring run offs. Climbers and cavers are the ones that usually rebuild it or add more logs to it each year. Do not cross this log bridge unless you have the proper mountaineering gear and you're absolutely sure it is safe. Once again if you breakthrough or fall off you will most likely never be found. If you have any doubts take the first safer trail on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River. While hiking towards the toe of the Saskatchewan Glacier the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Cliffs on the south side of the valley rise 600M straight up. Parkers and Hilda Ridge can be seen on the north side. Views of the hanging glaciers on the south east faces of Mount Andromeda and Mount Athabasca are outstanding. Further on you will start to see the workings and geology of the glacier. Eskers, drumlins, lateral moraines, medial moraine, ground moraines, erratic's, glacial polish, striation on rocks, glacial deposits, rock flour, till plains, kettle lake, paternoster lakes, braided river, katabatic winds are all here. See this interesting survey from 1952 and compare the glacier photos to these in 2010. Geoheads will love it here, unusual and eye catching rocks are everywhere. Mount Castleguard and Castleguard meadows can be seen to the left half way up the Saskatchewan Glacier. Castleguard Cave, which is the longest cave in Canada is located near here. As of 2007 cavers have surveyed 20357M of passages and its the fifth deepest at 384m. Castleguard Cave ascends gently from its entrance and terminates beneath the Columbia Icefields. Due to the caves flash flooding the entrance is barred and locked by the Parks Department. Parks permission and a key, is required to enter Castleguard Cave. Be very careful around the lake and the toe of the Saskatchewan Glacier, there is deep glacial silt along with hidden ice under steep rock. Do not climb up the glacier unless you have mountaineering experience and the proper gear.

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Wilcox Creek, Icefields Centre Parking Lot, Columbia Icefields Tents Only. There are several hikes located in this area. Parker Ridge, Hilda Ridge, Hilda Glacier, Boundary Lake, Nigel Pass, Weeping Wall, Wilcox Pass, Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb, Mount Athabasca North Glacier, Castleguard Mountain Alpine Climb and the Saskatchewan Glacier. You are in bear country.

PointerArea Map PointerInteresting Survey Taken In 1952

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Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier  
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Start At The Old Bridge Big Bend On Highway Before The Columbia Icefields
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Old Bridge Canyon Under Old Bridge
   
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Hiking Towards the Saskatchewan Glacier Along Big Bend Canyon Under Old Bridge
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
More Alberta Wildflowers More Alberta Mushrooms
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
So Southeast Face Mount Andromeda Southeast Face Mount Athabasca.
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Old Food Stash.  
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Old Parts Left By The US Military From 1930 Parker Ridge
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Log Jamb Saskatchewan River Gorge Logs Over The Saskatchewan River Gorge
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan River Gorge  
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Southeast Face Mount Andromeda Saskatchewan River Braided Stream
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Striation on rocks More Alberta Rocks
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
 
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Glacial Polish And Striation On Rocks  
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Trilobites Trilobites
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Trilobites Trilobites
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Trilobites Trilobites
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Paternoster lakes Glacial Deposits And Paternoster lakes
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Looking Towards Castleguard Meadows. Mount Castleguard on right Medial Moraine To Right Of Glacier. This Was Level With The Ice In 1990
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Eskers
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier South Side Saskatchewan Glacier North Side
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Till Plains  
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
   
Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park Saskatchewan Glacier Hike Banff National Park
Erratics Eskers
   
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