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The Marvel Lake – Wonder Pass Hike

The Marvel Lake – Wonder Pass Hike

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.

The Wonder Pass hike

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.

Hiking past the Naiset Huts

Hiking past the Naiset Huts

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.

Hiking towards Wonder Pass

Hiking towards Wonder Pass

Looking back in the direction of Assinboine Lodge

Looking back in the direction of Assinboine Lodge

Our colourful group of four well on our way to Wonder Pass

Our colourful group of four well on our way to Wonder Pass

Good signage on the trail

Good signage on the trail

Heading down from Wonder Pass

Heading down from Wonder Pass

Beautiful mountain scenery around Wonder Pass even in mediocre weather

Beautiful mountain scenery around Wonder Pass even in mediocre weather

Snow starts to disappear as we lose elevation

Snow starts to disappear as we lose elevation

A steep descent towards Marvel Lake

A steep descent towards Marvel Lake

Our first view of Marvel Lake

Our first view of Marvel Lake

The meadows across from the Bryant Creek Shelter

The meadows across from the Bryant Creek Shelter

Making or way through dense vegetation

Making or way through dense vegetation

Woodsy part of the hike to the Bryant Creek Shelter

Back in the land of green

Beautiful river crossing

Beautiful Spray River

Looking down the river

Looking down the Spray River

Walking the final few hundred metres to the Mt Shark parking lot

Walking the final few hundred metres to the Mt Shark parking lot

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:

The Marvel Lake - Wonder Pass hike on the BC-Alberta border

 

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

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