5 to 6 hours / 15K return
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.
The gravel entrance to the old
is slowly eroding away and may be
gone in a few years, consider
parking in the big bend rest stop. Cross the old
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
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
for this camp can still be found
high up on the glacier. Follow the old
road up through what used to be
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
crossing over the Columbia Icefields
area may pass through from
and Castleguard Meadows. We ran into
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
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
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
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.
are all here.
interesting survey from 1952
and compare the glacier photos to
these in 2010. Geoheads will love it here,
unusual and eye catching rocks
Castleguard and Castleguard meadows
can be seen to the left half way up
the Saskatchewan Glacier.
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
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
glacier unless you have
and the proper gear.
Local campgrounds include
Icefields Centre Parking Lot,
Columbia Icefields Tents Only. There are several hikes located in this area.
Athabasca Alpine Climb,
Mount Athabasca North Glacier,
Mountain Alpine Climb
and the Saskatchewan
You are in bear country.