|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – May 2001
For 30 years, some wide-eyed dreamers have been chiseling a 745-mile route through the Canadian Rockies. The result is a labor of love set to become one of North America's most magnificent long trails.
Expedition Planner: Great Divide Trail
Getting there: Main trail access points are:
Permits: The national parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes, and Yoho) all have a limited-permit system, which requires that you make reservations and pay a fee. To camp in the provincial parks of Mt. Assiniboine, Peter Lougheed, Mt. Robson, and the main campground at Elk Lakes, you'll need to obtain a permit and pay a fee. You'll find contact information for all in Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail (see Guides).
Guides: Canadian government maps differ in format and distribution from U.S. Geological Survey topos. Canadian maps come in 1:50,000 scale (with UTM/GPS grids, best for ground travel) and 1:250,000 scale (best for overview). Trails are rarely shown. The most practical, and least expensive, solution is to use 1:250,000-scale government maps ($6.50 U.S.) for overview and orientation, and the GDT guidebook maps for actual travel. A variety of privately published "recreation maps" are available for the more popular parks.
Seven government topos cover the GDT's length: Six 1:250,000-scale topos, 82-G Fernie, 82-J Kananaskis Lakes, 82-N Golden, 83-C Brazeau Lake, 83-D Canoe River, 83-E Mt. Robson, and the 1:50,000-scale 83-L04 Kakwa Falls. You can purchase government topos at any Government Agent office in Canada. In smaller towns, this is usually in the grocery store or mall around which such communities are centered. You can also phone- or Web-order maps from private firms with searchable Web indexes, such as Map Town Ltd., (877) 921-6277; www.maptown.com.
Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail, by Dustin Lynx (Rocky Mountain Books; $21.95), is written by and for thru-hikers, but broken down into manageable sections. Detailed route descriptions, excellent maps, alternate routes, and tips garnered from first-person experience combine with thorough contact and resupply information to make this book mandatory for anyone planning excursions along the GDT.
The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, seventh edition, by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson (Summerthought Ltd; $19.95) is far and away the most comprehensive guide to trails in the national and provincial parks of the Canadian Rockies.
Both of these guides are available at www.backpacker.com/bookstore.