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Hiking In Jasper National Park To Nigel Pass

Hiking in Jasper National Park to Nigel Pass

Over Labour Day weekend we planned to go hiking in Jasper National Park to Nigel Pass and beyond. We were actually hoping to get as far as Jonas Pass on the Brazeau Loop but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Luckily the hike to the Four Point Creek campsite where we ended up is absolutely lovely.

"The hike starts up an old fire road"

The Nigel Pass/Brazeau Loop hike starts up an old fire road

"Crossing Nigel Creek"

Crossing Nigel Creek

"Climbing up from Nigel Creek"

It’s a steady climb up from Nigel Creek all the way to Nigel Pass

"Looking across to Parker Ridge - another excellent hike"

Looking across to Parker Ridge – another excellent hike

"View from near the top of Nigel Pass"

View from near the top of Nigel Pass

Jasper National Park hiking: Getting to Nigel Pass

Its 7.2 kilometres to reach Nigel Pass and requires 361 metres (1,185 feet) of climbing. It’s gradual and not very taxing, even with a fully loaded backpack. The area is reportedly frequented by grizzly bears but we didn’t even see bear scat.

Once you reach austere looking Nigel Pass you have a view down to the Brazeau River and excellent views of Parker Ridge and Mt. Saskatchewan as you look back the way you came.

"The barrens of Nigel Pass"

The barrens of Nigel Pass

"You must cross the Brazeau River"

You must cross the Brazeau River

"An austere but beautiful landscape in the Nigel Pass area"

An austere but beautiful landscape

After a straight forward crossing of the Brazeau River it’s a climb up through rock slide debris, followed by a steep and hot descent in the afternoon sun to the Brazeau Valley. Even on a Labour Day weekend the fall colours were showing up in ground hugging plants.

"There's a steep scree slope en route to the Boulder Creek Campground"

There’s a steep scree slope en route to the Boulder Creek Campground

"Layered rock detail"

Layered rock detail

"Looking down the Brazeau River Valley"

Looking down the Brazeau River Valley

"Small waterfall on the Brazeau River"

Small waterfall on the Brazeau River

Camping in Jasper National Park near Nigel Pass

There are several campsites in the Nigel Pass – Brazeau Loop area, all of which must be reserved in advance. On the way to the Boulder Creek Campground where we ended up there’s one bridge to cross. We stayed here for two nights as we couldn’t get reservations for the slightly nicer Four Point Campground – despite the fact we found it deserted the next day.

"Crossing a river on a narrow bridge on foot"

How’s your balance??

"Man is puny in mountains like this"

Man is puny in mountains like this

"The beautiful Brazeau River Valley"

The beautiful Brazeau River Valley

"Great colour in the vegetation over Labour Day weekend"

Great colour in the vegetation over Labour Day weekend

Our plan had been to hike to the campground and the next day hike up to Jonas Pass – which is on the Brazeau Loop, a 5-7 day backpacking trip we didn’t have time to do. The hike up to Jonas Pass is supposed to offer some of the best mountain scenery in the Rockies. But when we got to that trail there was a sign saying that dogs weren’t allowed because it was caribou country. (They are allowed as far as Four Point campground.) I had been told otherwise by staff at Jasper National Park so I wasn’t too happy. We decided we would hike up the Brazeau River a bit instead but the scenery after the warden’s cabin wasn’t very inspiring. So we turned around and headed back to our campsite and spent the rest of the day reading and relaxing – which in some ways considering my summer schedule was a welcome treat.

We will go back to do the full Brazeau Loop but we won’t be bringing the dog next time.

"The deserted Four Point Warden Cabin"

The deserted Four Point Warden Cabin

"Heading down with a much lighter pack on a perfect morning"

Heading down with a much lighter pack on a perfect morning

If you are interesting in spending the night in the back-country reserve a backcountry permit from Jasper National Park. Call (780) 852-6177 and leave a message. They usually return your call within a few hours and can email you over one. Make reservations well in advance especially for busy long weekends. It’s possible to reserve 90 days ahead of time. The cost is a very reasonable $9.80 per person per night though there is a reservation fee of about $11 as well.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest board.

A Hike to Nigel Pass in Jasper National Park

Leigh McAdam



Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 26 Comments
  1. It looks fabulous. Inspiration for me to try to get in a little better shape – I’m thinking we are going to spend some time in Glacier and the Canadian Rockies next summer and want to be able to do more hiking than I have in recent years. After all, I want to see some of that fabulous scenery! I’ll be contacting you for advice too.

    Looking forward to more pictures some time when your dog is stuck at home.

  2. Man, you and I are so lucky to count Alberta (and BC in our backyard) as our home … just amazing! I’d be tempted to head back and ski/hike, but the peak of the cold and the dark is hitting right now, so I’ll stay hunkered down in Chiang Mai for now! 🙂

    Excellent post, sharing this tomorrow Alberta time!

  3. More spectacular Alberta scenery that I’m dying to see. Love all the colors you found on your hike. Wow, I’m glad you have that shot of the mountains vs man comparison. They are massive. It’s too bad about Jonas Pass but I’m sure you’ll make it there soon. Hope Costa Rica is treating you well 🙂

  4. Hi Leigh, another amazing hike! I’m in awe of the incredible landscape. That layered rock is so impressive. It looked iike a very rewarding hike even though you didn’t get as far as Jonas Pass as you had planned. It’s also great that you get some time to relax and read. I hope to make it to this part of your world sometime.

  5. I just sent you an email about your suggestions for a backpack trip to Banff. However, this looks beautiful, too! Would you recommend Jasper over Banff?

  6. My sister and I planned to do part of the Brazeau(we had our dogs too) for our first backpacking adventure. We planned everything to a tee. But still ended up unprepared…physically. Our biggest concern was my physical condition which is poor due to medical reasons however I was determined to go. Turns out that hike was hard on my sister as well which is in much better condition than me. We only mad it as far as Boulder creek but we think we did good considering. I’ve always loved the mountains, the trail was pretty awesome. We got back lastnight, sore, exhausted… don’t regret a moment of it! 😀

  7. My friend and I grunted our way up a talus slope past Wilcox lake then over a shoulder onto a glacier and glissaded down into Jonas Pass (camped overnight). Then went down the pass to the Brazeau (they call it Brazoo) River, past Nigel Pass which is a poor excuse for a pass in the Rockies and out to Hilda Creek hostel. It snowed overnight on us in Jonas and it was July long weekend. We did see caribou, but no bears! Actually in 20 years of hiking and working for Parks Canada on trails and bridge crew in Yoho, Kootenay and Banff–I have only seen 5 grizzly bears in the back country.

    1. @Emerson Thanks for your great comment. Sounds like an adventure. So far in my Rocky Mountain experience I have only seen one grizzly bear – from the car on the way to Lake Minnewanka.

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