Bow Hut

Icefields
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Bow Hut

Distance: 15.6km
Elevation: 555m
Time: 4-6h

Difficulty Rating:

Hiking to Bow Hut is a wonderful way to hike the day away if you're going to be on the Icefields Parkway. Bow Hut is an Alpine Club of Canada Hut, and the route to get there is challenging but also spectacular! Book a night at Bow Hut for a true Canadian hiking experience.

Getting there

Drive on Highway 93 north towards Jasper for roughly 35.0km and park in the Bow Lake lot and Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. There is also campground and HI Hostel nearby.

About

When to do

June to October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

At trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

The hike to the Alpine Club of Canada’s Bow Hut is a challenging hike, with lots of challenging stream crossings. It is a beautiful hike, but make sure you are prepared for a more technical hike than most on our list.

Start your hike in the Bow Lake parking lot, just before Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. This lot fills quickly as the hike around Bow Lake and up to Bow Glacier Falls are also accessible from here. Try to get to the parking lot early.

The hike heads to the right of Bow Lake. You will soon pass the historic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, a wonderful reminder of an older era of exploration in the Canadian Rockies.

Continue hiking for about 3.0km on a rough trail hugging the Bow Lake. You have wonderful views in all directions, but we particularly like the changing view as you look out over Bow Lake. Depending on water levels you may be able to scamper across the rocks at the far end of Bow Lake, saving a bit of time.

When you come to a moderate-sized stream, take the path as it goes up the right-hand side of the stream. Soon there will then be a set of stairs and another path going off to the left. The path up the stairs heads to Bow Glacier Falls, however go left here to hike to Bow Hut.

You will immediately need to scramble over a boulder-bridge to get to the other (east) side of the river. Continue on this trail on the east side of the canyon. The trail drops down to the streambed for a short distance. Stay on the left-hand side of the river.

Hike up and over boulder fields, there are cairns here you can follow, however it’s easy to miss one, so pay attention to the trail so you don’t get off-trail. You may pass through lingering snow at many points on the way up to Bow Hut. Eventually you will head left up through some trees, and your path will require what can be a challenging creek crossing depending on how much water there is in the creek.

Hike up over a hill and emerge into a stunning moraine-basin filled with rubble.There is a dramatic glacier at the far end of the basin. Bow Hut is eventually up to the right on a rock ledge. Continue on the obvious path, with cairns used when the path disappears. You may have additional creek crossings (depending on the season and recent rainfall) as you head up the left-hand side of the valley.

You will notice your path now drops down and you get to cross over the creek to the right-hand side of the valley and ascend up to Bow Hut. The creek crossing can be tough, and there are several routes marked out by cairns. Choose the one you are most comfortable with. Hiking poles are a great help here.

Once across the creek, you can choose any of the braided hiking paths headed up towards Bow Hut and make sure it’s a safe path. You soon reach Bow Hut, which is not the most attractive mountain hut, but resilient for the challenging weather it must endure year-after-year.

There is a note outside Bow Hut that says access is restricted to Alpine Club of Canada members and guests at Bow Hut. There’s often a guardian here in summer, however if there isn’t a guardian it’s best to not enter the Hut without authorization. A door accidentally left open can allow animals or bad weather into the hut, ruining somebody else’s trip.

If you want to stay at Bow Hut you’ll need to make a reservation through The Alpine Club of Canada 24 hours in advance.

Insider Hints

  • There are hiking paths above Bow Hut, however stay off the glaciers if you don’t have experience and proper equipment.

  • You can spend a night at Bow Hut, which makes a fun trip. You’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag and food, however dawn and dusk can be exceptional in good weather, and completely tranquil.

  • Consider a stay at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge if you want to do other great hikes in the area.

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