Maligne Pass and Replica Peak
Maligne Pass is a wonderful alpine pass in a rarely-visited area of Jasper National Park. Maligne Pass is one of the largest alpine passes in the Rockies, dotted with tarns and wildflowers and surrounded by some of the largest peaks in the Rockies.
From the town of Jasper, drive south on the Icefields Parkway for 72.0km, south of Sunwapta Falls to the Poboktan Creek Trailhead. The trail begins across the highway bridge on the north side of the creek, behind the old warden station.
|When to do|
Mid July - September
Out and back
The Maligne pass backpack trip was once one of our favourite backpacks in the Canadian Rockies. It had incredible wildflowers and alpine meadows and wasn’t as busy as many other backpacks in Jasper National Park. Unfortunately, it is no longer a maintained trail, which means bridges may be washed out and the trail overgrown in places. This means committing to a trip here now requires more experience with route finding and creek crossings.
We do not have a first-hand account of the conditions after 2015, when all the bridges were intact. The trail may be covered with brush in some areas, and bridges have been removed. It is a beautiful area, however please proceed with caution. It is recommended to discuss your trip intentions with parks Canada staff at a visitor center prior to departure. Wildlife frequently travel through this area, so it is important to be cautious and aware during your trip.
Remember that even though this isn’t a busy trip, you still need to book your backcountry campsite in advance. Use the Parks Canada Website for your booking.
The first day on the Maligne Pass backpack is a 10.8km hike from Poboktan Creek Trailhead to Avalanche Backcountry campground. Along the way you’ll gain 575m of elevation. The route should take 4-5 hours.
Cross the highway bridge on the north side of the creek behind the warden station. Initially the trail follows Poboktan Creek, reaching a junction at the 6.1km mark. The trail to the right crosses Poligne Creek, and takes hikers towards Jonas Pass.
Instead, head left for Maligne Pass, soon reaching a bridge over Poligne Creek. Immediately after crossing the bridge, the ascent will steepen considerably. This is short-lived, and nothing too strenuous.
Avalanche Campground is located 4.7km from the trail junction, and 10.8km from the trailhead. There are four sites here, however only one party may book per night, so you will have the campground to yourself.
Leave your tent at Avalanche Campground and head out on an epic trail that takes in Maligne Pass, a potential scramble up Replica Peak and return via some alpine lakes. The basic circuit through Maligne Pass and back along the lakes is 11.4km and gains 410m. If you want to add on the scramble up Replica Peak, it is an additional 3.2km (return) and another 480m of ascent
Depart the campground, heading towards Maligne Pass. The trail will deteriorate into a muddy, rocky condition for 2.0km before ascending towards Replica Peak. Glimpses through the trees on the west will reveal vast alpine meadows. Near the 3.0km mark, views will open up considerably for the last 1.0km to the pass and its beautiful blue lake.
4.2km from Avalanche Campground (and after gaining 245m of elevation) you’ll reach a point in Maligne Pass where you can either go left and descend along the path to a lake or go right and ascend Replica Peak, which is located to the east of the pass.
We suggest hiking at least partway up Replica Peak, as the views are incredible. Be aware that there isn’t a great nor clear path up, so only do what you feel comfortable doing.
To go up Replica Peak, head up the scree slopes east of the lake, contouring to the right of the steeper, rocky patch. The scree section is loose, so be prepared to slide backwards as you gain the slope. After gaining 250m from the pass, crest the westernmost ridge of Replica Peak. This ridge offers incredible views in all directions. Ascend the ridge from here towards a 50m scree chute. This chute should take 10 minutes to ascend with caution before reaching the last bit of solid rock to the summit.
The descent is quick and allows time to explore the meadows below Maligne Pass. We suggest making a circuit for the day and exploring a range of lakes you can only see once you get higher.
So don’t backtrack along the muddy trail you started your trip on, instead head east towards some lakes, initially descending then quickly ascending roughly 100m to a small lake, at which point you go north for a short-while to another small lake, before heading south, passing a very large lake and several other smaller unnamed lakes. Check out the map and the route while you’re on Replica Peak and the route will make more sense. Have a map or GPS unit with you as well to aid in navigation.
After passing the smaller unnamed lakes, the route is roughly parallel to your hike in, only about 100m higher. This route requires some mild bushwhacking and route finding, but if you’ve got a good feel for directions and a map (or a gps unit with the track loaded on it), then you’ll be fine. Eventually the route drops you off back at the Avalanche campground.
Today is a hike out on the route from the first day, a 10.8km hike from Avalanche Backcountry campground to Poboktan Creek Trailhead. Some people make a long Day 2 and hike out that day, however that makes Day 2 a really long day. We prefer to really savour Day 2 and hike out on Day 3.
Note: Total GPS distance varies from each days distance due to side trips and slight route variations each day.
Day 1: Trailhead to Avalanche Campground (11.0km/590m)
Day 2: Campground to Maligne Pass and Replica Peak (12.5km/410m) (15.6km, 875m if you do Replica Peak as well)
Day 3: Campground to Trailhead (11.0km/-590m)
Avalanche campground requires a permit, book early to ensure you get your dates.
The HI Athabasca Falls is 30 minutes North. This is the best HI wilderness hostel along the Icefields, so book in there if you can.
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