One of the truly classic areas in Canada for hiking and backpacking is the area around Lake Magog and Assiniboine Lodge in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
There are three primary ways to access the Lake Magog area. Helicopter in and from what I was told you have to stay at the Naiset Huts or Assiniboine Lodge to do this ($155 pp one way), backpack in from the Sunshine Valley Ski Resort or hike in from the Mount Shark Trailhead.
John and I had helicoptered in – a good thing as we got caught in an early September snowstorm, but the plan had always been to hike back out. Our car was near the Mount Shark trailhead, so we elected to hike over Wonder Pass instead of the less scenic Assiniboine Pass. From the Naiset Huts, a 10 minute walk from Assiniboine Lodge, it was 25.1 kilometres to the trailhead. If you’re camping at Lake Magog, add another 1.6 kilometres.
The hike is glorious for the first 16 – 17 kilometres. Mountain views are phenomenal and if it had been a clear day, I’m sure Marvel Lake would have dazzled us. Once you pass the Bryant Creek Shelter, the hiking unfortunately gets less interesting – and in fact the last 6 kilometres are on old logging roads, so the hiking is tedious through here.
For many, especially on the way in, there is the option of camping at the Marvel Lake Campground or booking a night at the Bryant Creek Shelter. That’s probably a wise thing to do if you have a fully loaded pack as 27+ kilometres is a lot to bite off in a day.
Considering the length of the trail, the vertical gain/loss is a relatively easy 627 metres (2.057 feet) from Wonder Pass to the Mount Shark Trailhead. From the Naiset Huts to Wonder Pass there is a 220 metre (722 feet) of gain or loss depending on what direction you’re hiking.
Even if you have hiked in to the Lake Magog Campground from Sunshine Village Ski Resort, it’s worth visiting Wonder Pass as part of a day hike.
For part of this hike, you are in Banff National Park so you do need to have a park’s pass if you sleep in the park – at one of the shelters. The Alberta – British Columbia border is at Wonder Pass.
The Marvel Lake Wonder Pass combination offers a delightful way to access Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
Other posts related to this trip you might enjoy:
- A Stay at Assiniboine Lodge in British Columbia
- Hiking the Nublet in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC