There are four ways to get onto the infamous Skyline Trail in Jasper, Alberta. The typical route involves hiking from Maligne Lake through to Signal Trailhead which is a casual 44 kilometre trek that most take over 3 days. But if you have only two days, then you can power through, or take it a little bit easier and explore the beautiful views on in the middle of the Skyline trail and the Notch from either Watchtower trailhead or Wabasso Trailhead. So what did we decide to do? Well we took the Wabasso trailhead to Curator Campground and went on to explore the Skyline Trail!
Getting from Wabasso trailhead to Curator campground on the Skyline Trail includes hiking 15km with over a kilometre of elevation gain through the trees, small rivers/streams and clouds of mosquitoes. But the views are totally worth getting eaten alive! I thought I was going to pass out from the constant switchbacks, but the campground was literally the most beautiful place I’ve ever spent a night.
Hiking Trail: Heart of the Skyline- Jasper National Park
Distance: 15KM – 6-7 HOURS EACH WAY
1. Hike From Wabasso Trailhead
2. Walk By Beautiful Wabasso Lake
3. Get A Great Glute Workout as You Climb 1000m
4. Make It to Curator Campground
5. Explore Jasper’s Skyline Trail
Getting to Wabasso Trailhead
Wabasso trailhead is located on the Icefields Parkway (highway 93) in Jasper National Park. Driving down the Icefields Parkway you are surrounded by towering mountains that reach up into billowing clouds around them. These mountains are kilometers tall, and it’s almost unimaginable how big they are. Sometimes it seems as though the mountains in the Canadian Rockies are just part of a painting. But the moment you step on the trail and start a steep ascent up one, you know that they are real as can be. This was my thought through every step up the side of the mountain to get to the “Heart of the Skyline” in Jasper.
Starting the Heart of the Skyline Trail From Wabasso Trailhead
Wabasso Lake trailhead is located just a hop skip and a jump from Jasper down Highway 93 (The Icefields Parkway). It takes about 25 minutes until you pull off to the left (as you drive from Jasper), at the Wabasso Lake Trailhead. This will start your journey up the side of a mountain to the “Heart of the Skyline”, and Curator Campground.
Wabasso Trailhead to Wabasso Lake
The first few kilometers of the trail are easy. There are subtle ups and downs through the rolling foothills of Curator Mountain. As you head towards Wabasso Lake from the trailhead you will see little streams and glimpses of mountains through the trees.
There is a moment when the trail divides that you should be aware of; if you bothered to look at a map before heading out (you should have), you might think you need to go right (we did). Taking the right turn at the intersection will lead you to stepping over a fallen tree. Then you will get to a bit of a scramble. At 75 degrees straight up, and covered in light silt and gravel, it is dangerous. Turn back and stick to the REAL trail! We didn’t do this, and had the bright idea to try to make it up. WE ALMOST DIED. Kidding. But it was pretty scary.
The Beautiful Wabasso Lake
As you peak through the trees, you’ll notice a blue patch of water that is Wabasso lake. If you wanted to just do a day hike, then Wabasso Lake is an easy out and back. You will get amazing views of wildlife (we saw a baby Moose and their mom). The lake is beautiful and even though it’s really not for swimming, you can enjoy a picnic before hiking the 5 kilometers back.
It’s also a good place to stop and have a snack on your way up to Curator campground on Jasper’s Skyline Trail. Because you have around 10 kilometers left to hike and this is where it starts to get a little hairy.
Up Curator Mountain We Go!
After Wabasso Lake everything starts to get a little harder, and by a little, I mean my glutes were aching the whole time. Also throughout this trail you have small streams to cross that can go up to your knees if you’re not careful, and you will also get swarmed with mosquitoes.
So many hiking people don’t mention the mosquitoes! They will mention other wildlife, but not the ones who will make your life hell, as you hike along. We went through so much bug spray, and since we were sweating in the 30-degree heat, every layer didn’t last long. Thanks 8-hour backwoods bug spray. Can someone invent sweat proof bug spray please?
This portion becomes hard because you need to gain over a kilometer of elevation in 10 kilometers of trail! For those reading along who don’t know, that’s a lot! We were definitely sweating as we pushed upwards and onwards.
Curator Campground: Finally Getting There
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of hiking uphill, we finally got to Curator Campground. We arrived at the nice meadow beside a lake/stream that flowed around the tent pads and “makeshift” tent pads. There were definitely a lot of nooks and crannies where you could spend your night camping. With a duck under some bushes we found a campsite that was close to the water, with views that went on for miles.
Exploring the Skyline Trail
After unpacking our stuff and changing into our flip-flops. We cooked dinner. Freeze dried food for the win! Then we decided to take the last kilometre up to the “Heart of the Skyline”. The minute we got out from the trees, we were blown away by the views of the surrounding mountain peaks. No wonder they call the Skyline Trail one of Canada’s best hiking trails.
Off To Curator Lake
We saw a sign for Curator Lake and had to check it out. So we wandered up even more (my legs were still killing me at this point) and we got to a stunning view of Curator Lake. This was as far as we were to get on the Skyline Trail as it was getting close to dark. But the moment we left, I knew that I would go back. The only question is when?