Backpack - Tonquin Valley


Backpack - Tonquin Valley

Photo-oriented backpack in Jasper's most spectacular scenic backcountry area!

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 50.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,000 ft

7:45-8:00am Aug. 13 at Portal Creek trailhead

UPDATED 7/30: 

Please review leader notes, before requesting permission.

MEMBERS ONLY, with recent 4-7+ day backpack experience.   Mountaineers membership (non-guest) required, prior to requesting permission.   Leader's permission is required, and after leader approval of  experience/qualifications questionnaire.  

Serious photographers are preferred, and with recent 4-7+ day backpack experience comparable to this trip.  

Photographers have priority registration through March 15. 

 Trip is currently open for 5 persons.   Leader will add additional space after first 5 spaces filled, for tent sharing or waiting list.  

Minimum 3 participants; maximum 5 (potential increase to 6).   Tent-sharing if group size 5-6. 

$85 backcountry trip fee.  Cancellation fees:  by Aug 2 $30 (waived if replacement participant registers by July 31); after Aug. 2 up to full amount of $85 fee forfeited with leader approval.   Parks Canada annual entrance permit required per person (purchase at park/camp entrance booth or park info centre) and front country camp/lodging (reservations needed) are participant responsibility.   Leader is camping in Jasper's Whistlers campground prior to and following backpack.

 Leisurely to moderate pace with generous photo stops, with extensive photo opportunities near camps and during day hikes from base camps.   Be sure your backpack expectations are compatible with the photography emphasis and pace of this backpack, or consider another backpack that better meets your interests.  

Itinerary (50-60+ mi):  8 day backpack begins and ends at Portal Creek/Maccarib trailhead. 

Day 1 - backpack 5.4 mi 1345' gain from trailhead to Portal camp;

Day 2 - backpack 6.6 mi 1050' gain to pass and 705' loss to Maccarib camp via Maccarib Pass;

Day 3 - hike 6.5-9.5 mi RT 500'-2000' gain/loss from Maccarib camp to Moat Lake and Tonquin Pass/Hill areas;

Day 4 - backpack 5.5 mi approx 500' gain/loss to Surprise Point camp and explore near camp;

Day 5 - hike  5-10 mi RT approx 800'-1000' gain/loss to Chrome Lake with options to Eremite Valley or sites near ACC hut;

Day 6 - backpack 5.5 mi approx 500' gain/loss to Maccarib camp; 

Day 7 - hike 6.5-9.5 mi RT from Maccarib camp to Moat Lake area or hike to lower slope meadows of nearby peaks for sweeping views;   

Day 8 - backpack 12 mi 705' gain to pass and 2395' loss to trailhead.  On final day Aug. 20, expect full day on trail. 

Bear safe travel/camping practices required, as grizzly bears range throughout Tonquin.   Each participant should carry at least 1 can of bear spray.   We will travel safely as a group from camp areas.   

Bearproof food storage (cabinets or elevated cables) at backcountry camps.  No need for canister or Ursack.  Leader secured a backcountry group permit with reservations for 4 sites at these camps:  Aug. 13 Portal, Aug. 14-15 Maccarib, Aug. 16-17 Surprise Point, Aug 18-19 Maccarib. 

Be sure to bring mosquito headnets and another bug deterrent/repellant!                   Tonquin Valley and its expansive wet flowery meadows have heavy populations of mosquitoes during early summer through peak wildflower bloom.  This trip is scheduled to be well after the peak wildflower bloom, when meadows less watery and mosquitoes have significantly declined, although some will be encountered and with little if any interference with photography.  

Jasper NP Tonquin Valley backcountry info:

Copies of Tonquin Valley trail descriptions and topo map will be provided to registered participants.

 Jasper NP is a Dark Sky Preserve, with much of  backcountry night sky free from light pollution.  On a clear night, starry night sky above the Ramparts in Tonquin backcountry can bring stellar scenes. 

Tonquin photo links:




Tonquin Valley

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports