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North Boundary Trail - Celestine to Willow Creek

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

24.4 mile 39.3 kilometer point to point
98% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,056' 627 m
Descent: -1,080' -329 m
High: 4,588' 1,398 m
Low: 3,480' 1,061 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)

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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton

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Through forests and meadows, along the Snake Indian River, deep in Jasper NP backcountry, a mountain wilderness trail.

Joan Pendleton

Features Commonly Backpacked · Historical Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The last (approximately) 8 miles of Celestine Road to the trailhead parking area is a narrow one way dirt road with a schedule for in and out traffic. Driving to the trailhead (In direction) is allowed for one hour starting at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm. Driving back from the trailhead (Out direction) is allowed for one hour starting at 9:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. No trailers or RVs. This road is closed in the winter.

Need to Know

The North Boundary Trail is a long distance wilderness trail through the roadless, northern backcountry of Jasper National Park. The forests, meadows, mountains, and valleys with their rivers, offer a sublime beauty and true wilderness experience for those with the stamina and expertise to hike this trail. This specific trail description covers about 24 miles of it, from the Celestine trailhead to a major trail junction and trail camp at Willow Creek.

Camping along this trail is limited to the established trail camps. Permits and reservations are needed for the trail camps. They can be gotten online at the Parks Canada permit/reservation website: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/

Please review the Parks Canada website and follow Leave No Trace principles.

Description

From the parking area, go past the trailhead sign and enter the forest on a wide, fire road style trail to start your adventure on the North Boundary Trail. Almost immediately the Snake Indian River can be heard as the trail bends right to cross the wild and beautiful Snake Indian River, set into cliffs here, on a very sturdy bridge. This trail follows the Snake Indian River upstream for its entire length, sometimes close to the river and sometimes farther away, but the river is always there.

After crossing the river, the trail climbs an open hillside to views of the De Smet Range with Roche De Smet closest, to the southwest. Further away in the distance to the south-southeast, the Jaques Range can be seen. By about the 1.7 mile mark, the trail is back in the beautiful mixed fir forest. At the 3.1 mile mark, Celestine Lake Trail splits off to the right as the North Boundary Trail continues to the left.

The North Boundary Trail continues in the forest, with some open areas and views of the surrounding mountains and Snake Indian River. Several small creeks are crossed. The creek around the 11 mile mark, is a bit larger and can mean wet feet. At about the 22 mile mark, the trail emerges from the forest into meadows with distant mountain views. Along the way several trail camps are passed - Shalebanks (11.0 mile mark), Seldom Inn (15.8 mile mark), Horseshoe Meadows (22.5 mile mark), and Willow Creek (24.3 mile mark). Snake Indian Falls, a highlight along this section, can be visited by taking the well-marked Snake Indian Falls Spur at the 16.8 mile mark. At the 23.9 mile mark, Willow Creek Trail comes in on the right from the north—go left here to continue on the North Boundary Trail.

Continuing through meadows with stands of firs, Willow Creek horse camp is reached. Willow Creek is then crossed to exit the horse camp and enter Willow Creek trail camp where this description for the North Boundary Trail - Celestine to Willow Creek section, ends. The rest of the North Boundary Trail continues on, over Snake Indian Pass, up the Smoky River to eventually visit Mt. Robson and end at the Mt Robson Visitor Center on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16).

Flora & Fauna

Forested for the first 22 miles , primarily firs, some aspen and other deciduous trees. Woodland wildflowers. Then for the last 2.4 miles, meadows with dense bushes and mountain views. Moose and bears live here.

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  4.0 from 1 vote

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#61

in Alberta

#12,627

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Photos

The Snake Indian River near the beginning of the Celestine Lake Trail.
Aug 27, 2019 near Jasper…, AB
Moose antlers and wildflowers as the North Boundary Trail runs through meadows in the mountains near the Willow Creek Trail junction.
Sep 19, 2019 near Hinton, AB
Willow Creek at Willow Creek trail camps, with the mountains as a backdrop.
Sep 19, 2019 near Hinton, AB
The Snake Indian River below, amid the fir forests and mountains of the wilderness through which the North Boundary Trail runs.
Sep 19, 2019 near Jasper…, AB
Mountains come into view along the forested North Boundary Trail, as the trail climbs.
Sep 19, 2019 near Jasper…, AB
Snake Indian River along the North Boundary Trail.
Sep 19, 2019 near Jasper…, AB

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