Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
0.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
1.4 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
60 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.9
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panorama from the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier hike on Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

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.

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Route Description for Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

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 for Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

  • 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.

Getting to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier Trailhead

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.

Route Information

  • When to do

    All Year

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    At trailhead

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Toe of the Athabasca Glacier Elevation Graph

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Toe of the Athabasca Glacier Reviews

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