Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

Icefields Parkway
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Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

Distance: 1.4km
Elevation: 60m
Time: 1-1.5h

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Do you want to see the Athabasca Glacier for Free? While at the Columbia Icefields consider hiking the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier trail. This family-friendly hike is a great alternative to the expensive tour of the glacier. The Athabasca Glacier are sublime.

Getting there

Drive on Highway 93 north to the Columbia Icefield Centre. Instead of turning into the Centre turn left and head on a small road that goes downhill to the bottom of the glacier, passing a small lake en route.

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When to do

All Year

Backcountry Campsites



At trailhead

Family friendly


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Detailed Description

Start the hike to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier from the far end of parking lot. There is an obvious trail across a bridge and up towards the glacier. This hike shows the impact of the retreating glaciers, with signs showing how far the Athabasca Glacier has shrunk over the years.

Continue hiking uphill and then go left as the path makes a circle, you are going around clockwise, and you can read about the glacier at various stops on this hike. There are great views all around during this walk.

Please watch your kids closely and do not cross the roped off area while hiking on this path. There are unobservable crevasses near this trail and the last three people who fell in were not able to be saved. It is particularly easy for children to fall down these crevasses as there care free nature may not allow them to see them until it is too late, as they are quite hidden among the rocks..

As you do your circuit your view continues to change. We particularly like watching people on the glacier, dwarfed by the massive Icefield.

Once you have completed the circuit, hike back the you came.

Insider Hints

  • If you have more time need the experience of walking on the Glacier, there is an alternative trip with Brewster’s Glacier Adventure (although there is a cost associated with this method!).

  • There are washrooms and refreshments at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre.


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Samantha3 weeks ago

Lots and lots of people. The Athabasca Glacier looks stunning!

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SJ4 weeks ago

Great way to see the Athabasca Glacier!

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