Backpack - Tonquin Valley


Backpack - Tonquin Valley

Photo-oriented backpack. Enjoy stunning high towering mountains and lake scenery, fall color, varied wildlife and more in Jasper NP's exceptionally beautiful Tonquin Valley.

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 60.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 7,000 ft
  • Pace: 1-2

8:30 am Astoria River trailhead, via Mt Edith Cavell Road

* Updated 9/14: Mountaineers backpack canceled and changed to private trip, due to insufficient interest from qualified member participants.

Leader is monitoring Jasper/Tonquin area for any current wildfires (none),  wildfire risk (low), air quality (fair  20-40 ratings), weather/temps.  See link to weather forecast incl air quality for Jasper AB (Tonquin ~ 5-10degrees cooler)

Read all leader notes and route/place link before submitting request for leader permission. 

Leader permission request with complete responses to required experience/qualifications:  Participants must be well-experienced photo-oriented backpackers with recent 5+ day backpacking experience during last 12-24 months including 2000-2500+ feet gain/loss days; and be experienced and comfortable with some potential snow travel (bringing microspikes as needed),  stream crossings and safe travel/camping in grizzly backcountry.  Confirm that you have a current valid passport, provide your transportation plans/needs (drive or  ride, carpool interest, need ride).  Include your interest in tent-sharing (up to 2-3 persons per tent). 

** Members only for photo-oriented backpack.  Minimum 3 participants, with tent sharing expected (up to 3 per tent).  2 tent sites reserved, with small chance to increase # tent sites if other reserved sites are canceled.   Leader has extra 3-person 4-season dome tent available for sharing.  Priority consideration for leader approval:  Prospective participants with strong photo interests  in Tonquin area and willingness to share tents. 

Participants approved for Tonquin backpack will be based on qualifications, interests, commitment and compatibility of photo-oriented trip objectives.

Description:    Photo-oriented backpack for well-experienced backpackers in this premier scenic Canadian Rockies destination.  Backpack exploration into one of the most exceptional scenic backcountry areas in the Canadian Rockies. Enjoy stunning scenery along Astoria River, Tonquin Valley lakes and Rampart peaks, Eremite Valley and more on hikes from camps into spectacular mountain valley and passes. Day hike options from camp include Eremite Valley to Arrowhead Lake, Amethyst Lakes (N & S ends), Fraser Glacier moraine, Moat Lake, Clitheroe Peak, and more. Photo opportunities abound from sunrise to sunset for beautiful reflections, glaciated peaks including the towering Ramparts (series of 10 peaks rising 3000' from Tonquin Valley), cascading streams, lakes, wildflowers, fall color and wildlife (caribou, moose, bear, pika, etc). Book Reference: The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide (Patton & Robinson) and Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies (Copeland), Jasper-Robson: A Taste of Heaven (Beers). Map: Jasper / Maligne Lk (Gem Trek) or Amethyst Lakes 83D/9

IMPORTANT NOTE: Participants must be fit to backpack 7-10+/mile days with 700-2000' gain/day, at moderately high elevations (6000-8000'). 

Trip minimum 3; maximum 4.

Leader reserved back country camp permits.  Back country fee payable at registration:  (based on 3 persons minimum), will be decreased if 4-6 persons.  Back country fee includes per person cost for campsite and daily wilderness pass.  Additional local costs will be incurred for Canadian NP entrance pass (daily or annual fee), accommodations, etc.”

Reserved camp sites: 10/1 Astoria River, 10/2-3 Surprise Point, 10/4-5 Maccarib, 10/6 Astoria.

$65 / person back country camp/reservation fee is payable to Mountaineers at time of registration, assumes 3 persons minimum. Cancellation fees: For cancellations after 9/1, up to 100% of fee is non-refundable, unless another participant fills the space.

Weather expectations:  Early October weather in Jasper sub-alpine typically ranges from cool to moderate conditions:   40-65F degree days and 25-45F degree nights, with cloudy to partly sunny skies, and some precip possible (rain or light snow). 

  • Itinerary:
  • Day 1:  Astoria River trailhead to Astoria camp (4.2 mi, less than 150’ loss & minimal gain); optional hike from camp via Astoria River trail and Verdant Creek route/trail toward Verdant Pass (up to 5 mi RT, 1,475’ gain & loss)
  • Day 2:  Astoria camp to Surprise Point camp (7.3 mi, 1,300' gain) & explore near camp:  Amethyst Lake south shore, Surprise Point summit (up to 3 mi loop or RT, up to 1,420’ gain & loss via mostly easy off-trail).
  • Day 3:  Sunrise over Amethyst Lake and Ramparts.  Early morning wildlife viewing - caribou, deer, moose, etc.  Astoria camp to Eremite Valley and Arrowhead Lake (up to 11 mi RT, 975’ gain & loss) or possible hike to tarns and over Fraser Glacier moraine above Outpost Lake/ACC hut (up to 5 mi RT, 1,260 gain & loss)
  • Day 4:  Surprise Point camp via Amethyst Lake shore to Maccarib camp (6.6 mi, 240’ gain & loss)
  • Day 5:  Maccarib camp to Amethyst Lake north shore for sunrise/early AM light.  Hike trails/routes to Moat Lake (3.0 mi RT) Tonquin Hill (+2 mi RT), Tonquin/Vista Pass (+4.5 mi RT) totaling up to 2,000’ gain & loss; and/or Majestic Mountain lower slopes (4 mi RT, 700’+ gain & loss from camp).
  • Day 6:  Maccarib camp via Clitheroe to Astoria River camp (10 mi). 
  • Day 7:  Astoria River camp to Astoria trailhead (4.2 mi, less than 150’ gain & minimal loss).  Drive to road end for optional short hike to Mt Edith Cavell glacial tarns.   

Recommended accommodations:   pre-/post-backpack front-country camps at Jasper NP Wapiti CG or Whistler CG, hostel (HI Jasper or Edith Cavell), or motel in Jasper or Tete Jeane Cache.  Leader staying 9/30 at Wapiti CG/Jasper NP.


Tonquin Valley

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp (no open tents or tarp shelters)
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter (pump-style recommended)
  • Ursack or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food.  Bear-proof food storage structures provided at designated camps.
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Extra layers for likely cool to cold day/night temps
  • Microspikes, depending on snow cover trail conditions & potential snow forecast
  • Bear spray required
  • Gaiters recommended
Trip Reports