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Hiking trail

Wilcox Pass Trail

Hiking trail · Alberta
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Cairn along the route
    / Cairn along the route
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Overlooking Athabasca Glacier
    / Overlooking Athabasca Glacier
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Trail junction
    / Trail junction
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Looking towards the Columbia Icefield just behind the peaks.
    / Looking towards the Columbia Icefield just behind the peaks.
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
Map / Wilcox Pass Trail
1950 2100 2250 2400 2550 m km 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

For only a short incline, this walk packs a punch of stunning glacier views. 

moderate
9.3 km
5:00 h
441 m
441 m

As crowds flock towards Athabasca Glacier, this walk will take you off the beaten path. Walk a dirt path upward through the woods before arriving above treeline. The path will become more gradual as you ascend the ridge of Wilcox Peak. Across the valley, you'll see Athabasca Glacier, snow-capped Mt. Adromeda, and Boundary Peak. Below in the valley, you'll also see the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center which hosts most travelers as they pull off of the Icefields Parkway to take in the view. 

 

Once you arrive at the top of the Mount Wilcox Route, you'll be able to take some of the best-framed photos in the area. From here, you can either head back the way you came, or if you'd like to do a little more exploring, head out on the Wilcox Pass Trail for some beautiful tundra walking. From the end of the pass, you'll glimpse views of the Sunwapta Peaks. 

Author’s recommendation

Bring your tripods to get some of the best glacier pictures of the trip!

outdooractive.com User
Author
Hannah Lafleur
Updated: October 05, 2018

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2431 m
Lowest point
2346 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Bears are present and active around all hiking routes. Be sure to review The Parks Canada information regarding travel in bear country to familiarize yourself with best practices. Always carry bear spray and know how to use it. 

The weather in this area can change quickly. Even if you start a hike with blue skies, it could easily be storming (or even snowing) by the afternoon. Check the weather report daily to adjust your hiking schedule as needed.

Trail Conditions can vary based on the season and weather. Check with a local visitor's center or visit the Parks Canada Website for the most up to date trail conditions. Always be prepared to turn back if you feel that snow or rain makes a trail unsafe. 

  • Once you come out of treeline, the path will follow the ridgeline of the hill. The path is wide here and about 8ft away from the edge, but it is a steep drop so use care while taking any pictures near the edge. This part of the route might not be well suited for those afraid of heights or with vertigo. 

Equipment

Bear spray, hiking boots, warm layers, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm hat, rain gear.

Tips, hints and links

  •  Restrooms: There is an outhouse at the trailhead.
  • Cell Service: You might have a small amount of service at the trailhead, but for the most part there will be no service on the hike.

 

Points of Interest:

Athabasca Glacier

Looking accross the AB -93 from the top of this hike, you'll see Athabasca Glacier as it stems from the Columbia Icefield above.  Notice the bus tours that safely drive out on the glacier to give visitors a chance to explore the ice up close.  

 

Food & Drink:

As there are no good places to stop to eat or drink on this hike, we recommend you bring a lunch, snacks and water. For recommendations of restaurants and grocery stores on the drive see your driving route notes.

Start

Wilcox Pass Trailhead (On the road leading to the Wilcox Creek Campground) (2021 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
52.218184, -117.184769
UTM
11U 487377 5785321

Destination

Wilcox Pass Trailhead (On the road leading to the Wilcox Creek Campground)

Turn-by-turn directions

0.0km - Facing the informational hutch, you’ll see the trail just to the left of it traveling away from the road and parking lot. Start walking STRAIGHT ON the gravel trail ahead.

0.6km - You’ll see a small look out point on your left, but note that your trail continues on to the right. BEAR RIGHT to stay on the trail continuing upward.

1.2km - The trail splits briefly, but only to intersect again a few meters away. Take either trail.

2.4km - There will be an unmarked junction with the main trail on your right and a smaller goat trail on your left. These trails will merge again in about 400 meters, but BEAR RIGHT to stay on the main trail.  

2.8km - The goat trail from the previous step will meet the main trail again here. Continue STRAIGHT ON the path ahead.

3.3km - You’ll reach a junction and  TURN RIGHT to follow the sign towards Wilcox Ridge. The Wilcox Pass trail heads forward beyond the sign if you are interested in flatter ground.

3.6km - BEAR LEFT to stay on the Wilcox Ridge Trail as the Mount Wilcox Trail intersects on your right.

3.9km - You might see this intersection on your map and consider making this a loop walk, this second Mount Wilcox Route trail does not exist. Simply continue STRAIGHT ON the trail ahead of you following the yellow-marked cairns.

4.7km - You’ve reached the spectacular viewpoint overlooking the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier. Take some pictures before following your same route back to the trailhead.

Parking

Following your driving directions to Wilcox Pass Campground, as soon as you turn off of AB - 93, you'll see a wooden hutch to to mark the trailhead and parking spots on your left. If the spots are full, you'll see people parking along the road. 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
9.3 km
Duration
5:00 h
Ascent
441 m
Descent
441 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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