Asulkan Valley Trail – Rogers Pass - Hiking British Columbia

 

Asulkan Valley is a long, rewarding day hike in Glacier National Park, Rogers Pass, Canada.

 

 

Today is the final day of hiking in Rogers Pass for this trip.  The morning is brisk and cool but sky is clear and most of the smoke from the huge fires in central British Columbia has dissipated.  The day is forecast to be very hot.  The Asulkan Valley hike is 15 kilometers (9⅜ miles) return with a net elevation gain of 925 meters (3,035 ft) to the end of the trail near Asulkan Hut

This hike has been saved for the final day because many great reports about the Asulkan Valley experience may leave a lasting legacy.  The Falcon Hiking Guide for Glacier National Park justifiably rates it as one of the Top Ten Hikes in the area based on Best Overall Views.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

The problem is that hiking does not seem attractive on this day.  The lethargy is caused by being hiked out but it is mandatory to at least try.  It will go one way or the other.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

Update: October 2012 – Glacier Park Lodge at Rogers Pass is permanently closed.

Following a hearty breakfast at Glacier Park Lodge,  the familiar 5 KM (3⅛ mile) drive to the Illecillewaet Campground parking area is completed and hiking begins at 8:15 AM.  A quick jaunt on the 1885 Trail and a left turn through the old Glacier House foundations provides quick and direct access onto the Asulkan Valley Trail

The front end is familiar from previously hiking the Great Glacier Trail and soon that junction is passed.  The trail is excellent and the musty aroma of old growth forest and wet moss is working its magic.  The disposition is better and the hike is beginning to look like fun.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

As the valley tightens, the hike alternates between forest and open trail.  The sun is warming up the day.  Hiking beside Asulkan Brook proceeds through large rock falls.  Hoary marmots are basking in the sun on top of large boulders as they monitor progress.  Huge waterfalls are roaring straight down from the steep slopes of Abbott Ridge on the other side of Asulkan Brook.  The sound echoes and amplifies in the massive rock falls.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

After crossing a removable wooden bridge over Asulkan Brook,  the trail soon passes the junction for the Glacier Crest Trail.  Breaking out from forest again, the Asulkan Glacier comes into view far in the distance.  The farther the hike continues, the more spectacular the scenery becomes. 

Roaring, rushing, milky water is everywhere.  The sun is dancing on water and shadows shorten as the sun begins to fill the valley.  There is a feeling of excitement now of being committed to completing the hike.  Asulkan Valley is a truly phenomenal hike and, so far, there has been only a hint of what will unfold.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

The quality of the trail remains good as the ascent gradually gains elevation more aggressively.  Crossing the dual aluminum plank bridge across Asulkan Brook, there is a short section of forest before climbing up the top of a lateral moraine.  The pitch gets steeper.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

The amazing ridge walk, with a valley down to the left and unfolding glaciers up on the right continues with building anticipation.  The nature and rugged surface of the narrow trail demand attention and compromise.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

The ascent continues with abandon and it just keeps getting better.  There is more ice revealed with every step.  Pink-tinged algae grows on ice and snow slopes.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

At the end of the moraine, just as the edge of the bowl becomes visible, the trail swings left and begins the final half kilometer of the character-building, gut-crunching climb.  At the top is the end of trail sign and cairn.  The view is spectacular.  There is just a bit of a breeze taking the edge off the heat from the sun.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

Asulkan Hut and the outhouse are a short distance away.  Gear is left at the cairn and a photographic tour of the hut and bowl below the Asulkan Névé begins.  An ascent to the top of a knoll proceeds above the locked and currently uninhabited Asulkan Hut which is managed by the Alpine Club of Canada for mountain climbers requiring temporary accommodation for staging climbs to local mountain summits. 

This particular hut can accommodate up to 12 adventurers.  From the top of the knoll a brief video is captured of the magnificent surrounding mountain scenery. 

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

Surrounding scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. 

 


 

Click here to enjoy the video of spectacular surrounding scenery from the top of Asulkan Valley.

 


 

The weather is perfect.  At this altitude the cool air balances perfectly with the powerful sunlight.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

Lunch is consumed in a sunny, sheltered spot while gazing across the bowl to the glacial pond being fed by melt from glaciers above.  Small waterfalls tumble over rock ground smooth by the recession of massive ice over thousands of years.  The sound of falling water bounces from sheer rock surfaces that deceive its accurate location. 

There is a reluctance to leave.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

It is important to get to lower elevations before the oppressive heat and humidity of mid-afternoon sun.  The refuge is back into the forest.

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

The Asulkan Valley hike is, hands down, one of the best hikes ever done.

The next day, departure occurs at day break for the 440 KM (275 mile) drive back to Calgary with a stop in Golden for breakfast and gas for the car.  

 

Asulkan Valley Trail - Rogers Pass, British Columbia, Canada

 

One more stop is made to photograph a dynamic sky for a fitting end to this incredible journey and adventure. 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Asulkan Hut is a spectacular location. When you get to the Illecillewaet Campground, you may want to stop at ACC Wheeler Hut for advice on a potential high altitude loop from Asulkan. The terrain is spectacular. It will take your breath away. When I was hiking Abbott Ridge a couple of weeks ago, Mount Sir Donald and Perley Rock trails were closed but Asulkan was fine. I took the old railroad trail and turned left through Glacier House ruins. There is a lot of water running but I expect you will experience conditions similar to what I did. Wonderful trail. Forever memorable. If you have the time, there is a hut to hut(s) hike along the crest. Take care, friend Jen, and stay safe. I shall look forward to hearing about the mission.

Barry, it's like I follow in your foot-steps -- you've been everywhere that I'm going :) Thanks for the trip report! Gives me a great idea of the area around the hut and thoughts on what gear to bring. Heading up there in a week -- close to the same time you were up there... I imagine it is just as dry if not drier this year.

Wonderful, thanks!

Thank you for your comment, Amber. Asulkan Valley is arguably one of the best hikes in Canada's Glacier National Park. Your youth will balance out the elevation differential from where you live to the hut near the top of Asulkan Valley. It is a long uphill hike on a variety of terrain with predominantly good trail. The trails at Rogers Pass may be somewhat more rustic than those to which you are accustomed. A good hiking boot is advised. The scenery is breathtaking. There are campgrounds at Rogers Pass but the Inn is permanently closed. Accomodation is available in Golden or Revelstoke, BC. Other trails, at the top of my list include Perley Rock, Mount Sir Donald and Abbott Ridge.

Amazing! Love your pictures. I'll have to add this trail to our list as my husband and I are planning a trip out that way this summer - any hiking tips are appreciated.

barry, how difficult is this hike? i've done lots of easy scrambles and many lengthy (20-30 km) difficult hikes with upwards of 1000 m of elevation gain, but some websites make it sound like it is better suited to rock climbers. any advice would be appreciated.

Difficulty will vary by individual.  Some days are better than others. There is always the option to turn around and try again  another day.  This is an aggressive hike.  It is not a scramble and there is no rock or ice climbing involved.  Many people who book into the hut may have extended plans for rock climbing, ice climbing or glacier traverse.  

I cannot speak for the content on other web sites but it is possible everything out there may not be correct.

Suggest you research the hike fundamentals, compare those to your personal experience and pick a fair weather day for your mission if you choose to embrace the challenge..  Good luck.  Stay safe.

Great pictures! I was wondering if there was any more hiking to be done directly from the Asulkan hut once I am up there? Just wondering if I have to lose elevation and come back down to get to other hiking?

Heather, plenty of hiking opportunity at the top although I have done none of it.  Perform due diligence.  Check at Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and the Alpine Club of Canada for trails and technical component.  Any I have met doing the traverses where technically well equipped with mountaineering gear.

I'm a particular hiker as I don't get to the mountains to hike very often. That said, this hike was the most phenomenal I've done. The outstanding views coupled with two bear sightings made it very memorable. We were reluctant to head back down from the hut.

Yes.  Asulkan Valley is very special.  Abbott Ridge, Mount Sir Donald to the toe of the Vaux Glacier, and Perley Rock are also ambitious endeavors worthy of the time and effort.  Next time you are at Asulkan, perhaps you will choose to spend a night or two at the hut and explore trail at altitude.  Due diligence and experience becomes important as terrain becomes more technical.  Thanks for your feedback.  Indelible memories.  Always check at the Rogers Pass Discovery Center.  Trail closure there is legendary.

Hey just a quick question - is one able to camp in the Asulkan valley? Are there spots near the hut? Or other places along the way? Thanks!

Short answer is 'no'.  Accommodation for Asulkan would be the central complex at Illecillewaet Campground at the valley base.  Season is short and fire bans must be considered. You can find Parks Canad accommodation information at this link.  Important to be aware of group hiking provisions as well.  Since these are commonly moving targets, Park Canada is your best source for current information.

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