Hiking Brazeau Lake Loop

Alberta Canada

Hiking Brazeau Lake Loop Trail-Some helpful Information

The Brazeau Lake Loop Trail is accessed from the thrilling Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, Canada.

The trailhead is about 71 miles ( 118 km) south of Jasper on Hwy 93, or north of Lake Louise about 69 miles (116 km).

There is a signed parking lot for the trailhead.

Many hikers choose to trek only as far as Nigel Pass, a moderate hike that can be accomplished out and back in a day (about 8.4 miles RT or 14 km). A permit is not required for day use, but backpackers will need one. Parks Canada has all the details about permits and maps.

 

The Brazeau Lake Loop trail is a 47 mile (78 km) hiking trail through classic Rocky mountain scenery.

The route, shaped more like a lollipop than a loop, crosses:

  1. Nigel Pass at 7299 ft (2225 m),
  2. Jonas Pass at 7611 ft (2320 m),
  3. Jonas Shoulder at 8103 ft (2470 m)
  4. Poboktan Pass at 7559 ft (2304 m)
  5. and back across Nigel Pass one more time to return to your vehicle.

Most hikers take between 4 to six days to complete the circuit. Clubtread forum posts an excellent description and log for the route. The adjacent map came from this site.

 

We did not hike the entire loop.

We had read many accounts that described the section from Poboktan Pass to Brazeau Lake back to Jonas Pass Junction was heavily forested and afforded very few views.

As you will see from the photographs on this page, the Jonas Pass side of the loop is absolutely spectacular. 

We returned after Poboktan Pass by the same route. This gave us the opportunity to experience this magnificent trail in reverse and it was equally impressive. We highly recommend it.

Brazeau Lake Loop Map

Day One   Nigel Trailhead to Four Point Campground- 8.3 miles (13.9 km)

Gain: +1099 ft (+335 m) …Loss: -902 ft (-275 m)

The trail begins in forest and meadow, following the pretty Nigel River.

The meadows support wildflowers in season…the forests grow mushrooms!

Brazeau Lake Loop-Nigel Creek
Brazeau Lake Loop-Nigel Creek valley
Brazeau Lake Loop-Nigel Creek
Brazeau Lake Loop-Mushrooms

We leave the forest behind and hike through the wider meadows of Nigel Creek Valley.

The ascent to Nigel Pass steepens, but it is still a moderate climb.

Vegetation has given way to barren rock and slides.

It’s about two hours to the pass from the trailhead.

 

Brazeau Lake Loop-Ascending to Nigel Pass
Brazeau Lake Loop-Ascending to Nigel Pass

The views from Nigel Pass towards the Brazeau River valley may tempt day hikers to continue further.

Brazeau Lake Loop-Views towards Brazeau Valley
Brazeau Lake Loop-Brazeau River crossing

Shortly after Nigel Pass, hikers must cross the Upper Brazeau River.

It can be an exciting event depending on the water level.

We always carry crossing shoes in our packs.

We cross a small knoll and are greeted with the breathtaking view of the Brazeau River Valley.

Brazeau Lake Loop-Brazeau River Valley

We follow the Brazeau River to Four Point Camp.

It sits near the confluence of the Brazeau and Four Point Creek.

This is where the real loop begins.

Tomorrow, we will go left, following Four Point Creek to spectacular Jonas Pass.

Brazeau Lake Loop Map
Brazeau Lake Loop-Brazeau River Valley

Day Two   Four Point Campground to Jonas Cutoff Camp- 11.4 miles (19 km)

Gain: +1820 ft (555+m) … Loss: -1148 ft (-350 m)

This is one tough day especially with a backpack…long distance…big elevation gain

There are no places to camp in between. One must go the distance.

The hike out of Four Point campground is up a steep hill through forest.

Soon, the forest opens up and a long, steady, beautiful ascent to Jonas Pass absorbs your interest.

If the English language could add another level of super, like the Spanish language adds “isimo” to mean very, very super, than, we would have to describe this section from Jonas Pass to Jonas Shoulder as superisimo!

The broad valley is lined with superlative peaks still clad in snow even in late August.

 

 

 

Jonas Shoulder at 8103 ft (2470 m) is the highest point in the trail.

It is a narrow place, affording spectacular views off both sides.

It’s a place to stay for awhile!

Brazeau Lake Loop-Jonas Shoulder
Brazeau Lake Loop-View from Jonas Shoulder towards Jonas Camp

We can see our destination…way down to the bottom of the shoulder and across the massive plateau.

Brazeau Lake Loop- Jonas Shoulder to Jonas Camp
Brazeau Lake Loop-hiking out Jonas Shoulder
Brazeau Lake Loop- Jonas Shoulder to Jonas Camp

After descending Jonas Shoulder towards Jonas Cutoff Camp…look back behind.

The shoulder stands huge against the background peaks!

Brazeau Lake Loop-Looking back up to Jonas Shoulder
Brazeau Lake Loop- Jonas Shoulder after descending to plateau

Day Three  

Jonas Cutoff Camp to Poboktan Pass/Return to camp

It’s a 3.8 mile (6.4 km) round trip to Poboktan Pass and back to camp. We gained 538 ft (164 m) to climb to the pass.

It was easy to enjoy as the scenery exploded around us. We had plenty of time to sit and contemplate, even read a book for awhile. What a place to spend a day!

Brazeau Lake Loop- Jonas Camp to Poboktan Pass
Brazeau Lake Loop- Jonas Camp to Poboktan Pass

Days Four & Five

Jonas Cutoff Camp to Four Point Camp to Nigel Trailhead

The beauty of returning the way we came in is that we got to see the best scenery of the hike a second time.

And from a very different perspective.

Brazeau Lake Loop-Return Trip

 

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