Hiking to the top of Canada’s Jasper National Park

Along with neighbouring Banff, Jasper National Park is a Unesco World Heritage site, recognised for its beauty, animal and plant life, and staggering variety of landscapes; including glaciers, alpine meadows, steaming hot springs, cerulean lakes and some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains.

The 44km Skyline Trail is one of the most beautiful – and challenging – stretches of the park’s 1,000km of trails. The route gains 1,380m in elevation and reaches the highest point of any hiking trail in Jasper, the Notch, at 2,511m above sea level.

But the wilderness faces threats. Last year, despite opposition from environmental groups, the glass-bottomed Glacier Skywalk was built overlooking the park’s Sunwapta Valley, 103km south of the town of Jasper. And this year, Parks Canada approved a plan for 15 new glamping-style campsites and a day lodge at the mostly undeveloped Maligne Lake – a move many fear will set a precedent for further development.

While some people complete the hike in two days or stretch it to four or five, the most popular is the three-day option.

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