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I am considering a hike along the Canadian Great Divide Trail from Jasper southward. As described in Dustin Lynx' book Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail, the middle segment inside Jasper National Park passes through the upper reaches of the Maligne River valley over the Maligne Pass. However, this trail is no (longer) listed in the Backcountry Guide(PDF, 5 MB), nor are its campgrounds, and it has apparently been decommisioned.

Considering that one may only camp on designated backcountry campsites and that it's 42 km from the (former) Maligne Valley trailhead to the next designated campground on the Brazeau loop, is it permitted to hike this former trail and camp on one of its five former campgrounds? Strictly speaking I would think no, but this tripadvisor post states that one can still hike and camp there. What is the official rule?

It would be very difficult to hike this segment of the Great Divide Trail if it is no longer permitted to hike here.


Of course, I fully expect that hiking here would be significantly slower than in the past.

  • Anyone know who we could ask? If this was the States, I'd call up the ranger station. It would be great if we could get an authoritative answer. – Russell Steen Jun 14 '14 at 14:39
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    I have phoned them while making reservations for campgrounds just north and just south of this segment, the system is that they phone me back in 48 hours, so we'll see if they say "your itinerary is impossible/not permitted", or if they say it's possible but I need to be extra careful and use wilderness/bushwacking skills on the decommisioned segment. – gerrit Jun 14 '14 at 14:47
  • Awesome, would love to see the answer when you find out :) – Russell Steen Jun 14 '14 at 14:49
  • a decommissioned national park sounds like an amazing destination, I had no idea such places existed – Hack-R Jun 3 '16 at 21:56
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    @Hack-R True. Personally I liked the section a lot. I really find North American national park trails are overmaintained (as far as I've seen), and I prefer the wilder, rougher trails I've hiked in the Nordic Countries in Europe. Fallen trees belong to the forest. – gerrit Jun 3 '16 at 22:23
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I have phoned with the trail reservation office for Jasper National Park, and this is what they told me.

The route has been decommisioned. This means that it is now considered wildland. Hiking and camping are permitted but require significantly more skills (and some more equipment) than hiking on a well-maintained "semi-primitive" trail. A backcountry permit and fee are still required. One should preferably camp on former campgrounds (as they still suitable places), but random camping is permitted 5 km from the trailhead. The reservation office still registers who are on the trail in what period.

So: good news for through-hikers.

  • Two implications: 1) fallen trees that won't have been cleared will be a bit of a pain 2) if there were bridges they may have been washed out in last June's flood and not restored, I strongly suggest you look into that. – furtive Jun 16 '14 at 17:42
  • BTW, I have a friend who's done the divide trail from near Waterton National Park up to Lake Louise or so. PM me if you have any questions. – furtive Jun 16 '14 at 17:44
  • @furtive No such thing as PMs on Stack Exchange... – gerrit Jun 16 '14 at 19:08
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    @furtive I hiked the trail in September 2014, and fallen trees were a minor problem and the only formerly bridged river was easily forded. A lot easier than official trails I hiked a year later in eastern Iceland... – gerrit Jun 3 '16 at 22:20
  • good answer, and glad to see my predictions were accurate but relatively minor in your case. – furtive Jun 7 '16 at 14:43

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