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2024 Mount Assiniboine Hiking Guide

2024 Mount Assiniboine Hiking Guide

Note: I’ve updated my Mount Assiniboine hiking guide to include updated info for 2024 including the new requirement for reservations at Porcupine Campground.

With its prominent Matterhorn shape, Mount Assiniboine is one of the most photographed peaks in the Canadian Rockies. And that makes hiking to Mount Assiniboine one of the most spectacular backpacking trips near Banff.

I had dreamed of visiting for years, but when it came time to plan my trip, I was overwhelmed with information. There are so many campgrounds and access routes to consider! I’m a hiking guidebook author who has hiked all over BC and the Canadian Rockies, so doing hiking research is my jam – I figured out the best way to get there and the best places to camp.

My visit to Assiniboine was gorgeous, and I can’t wait to go back (probably to try one of the other access routes). In this guide, I’ve got all the info I used on my hike so that you can plan your own epic Mount Assiniboine hiking trip.

My guide to hiking to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park includes:

This is a sensitive wilderness area. Learn how to Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness wild. Make sure you are prepared by bringing the 10 Essentials. Get ready for adventure with this checklist of things to do before every hike.

Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn

A hikers walks along a trail in Assiniboine Park with Sunburst Peak in the background
Hiking up to the Niblet with Sunburst Peak in the background

Mount Assiniboine Quick Facts

Description: Mount Assiniboine is a spectacular 3618-metre peak, nicknamed the Matterhorn of the Rockies. The core area of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is a popular place for day hikes with incredible views of Mount Assiniboine and the surrounding peaks. However, the park is very remote – it takes one or two days to hike into the park (there are no roads) and there are several approach routes to choose from.

Location: Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is located in the Canadian Rockies southwest of Banff and Canmore. The park borders Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park.

Pronunciation: “Uh-sin-a-boyn”

How to Get There: There are five hiking routes into the park. You can also fly in by helicopter. More info in the Route Options section below.

Distance: 25.5 km to 32.3 km each way to the core area (depending on route) plus more for day hikes

Elevation Gain: 766 m to 1625 m to the core area (depending on route)

Difficulty: Moderate (if you break up the hike into the core area into two days)

How Many Days to Spend at Mount Assiniboine: Ideally 4 or 5.

Best time to Hike to Mount Assiniboine: Early July to late September.

Mount Assiniboine Weather: Mount Assiniboine is high in the Canadian Rockies and the mountains make their own weather. In July and August, the average high temperature is 23°C and the average low is 7°C. Thunderstorms in the afternoon are common. Use my picks for the Best Weather Apps for Hiking to see the forecast for your trip. I had a lot of rain and snow on my early September trip. The Mount Assiniboine webcam is also helpful.

Mount Assiniboine Reservations and Cost: You must make reservations to camp at most campgrounds in the Assiniboine core area and on the hike in (although there are some first-come, first-served campgrounds). The cost of your trip will vary depending on your itinerary. See the reservations and costs section below for a full breakdown.

What to Bring to Mount Assiniboine: This is a remote hiking trip, so you will need to bring typical backpacking gear. Don’t forget a waterproof jacket and warm layers as the weather can get cold and wet fast. Use my backpacking checklist to make sure you have everything you need and my guide to reducing your backpack weight so you don’t over pack.

Wildlife at Mount Assiniboine: The trail is in bear country (both black bears and grizzly bears). Carry bear spray, hike in a group, and make noise, especially in brushy areas. Use campground cooking areas and store all your food in toiletries in bear lockers. Read my bear safety tips for backpackers for more info.

Mount Assiniboine Rules: Dogs are allowed on-leash. No fires or drones.

Indigenous Context: The Mount Assiniboine area is in the traditional territory of the Tsuut’ina, Michif Piyii (Mestis), Niitsítpiis-stahkoii (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi), Ĩyãħé Nakón mąkóce (Stoney) and Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis. The government forced Indigenous people to leave soon after Banff National Park was created in 1885 and prohibited them from accessing their traditional territory to hunt, fish, gather, and conduct cultural practices. George Dawson, an early settler surveyor, named the mountain after the Indigenous Stoney people, who the Cree called “Assin Bwan”.

Have questions about Mount Assiniboine? Join the Mount Assiniboine Facebook Group to connect with other hikers!

Lake Magog
Lake Magog

Mount Assiniboine Trail Map

The trails in the Mount Assiniboine core area and on some of the routes into the core are well-marked and easy to navigate.

However, there are a lot of trails and it can be tough to visualize where everything is. As well, the BC Parks map sucks because it doesn’t show the route from Mount Shark Trailhead and it doesn’t have elevation contour lines.

I have the Gem Trek Banff and Mount Assiniboine Map. It’s by far the best map of the area since it shows all the trails with tons of detail. It’s also printed on waterproof and tear-resistant paper.

I also used the Gaia GPS app on my hike. It was helpful to know where I was on the trail or to figure out how much further it was to the next landmark. I made a bunch of custom Gaia GPS trail maps for you that you’ll find in this post in the route options section. You can save and export my gpx files from these routes to use on your own trip.

Mount Assiniboine Park Map showing all trails
I made this Mount Assiniboine Park map using Gaia GPS. You can can see all the routes into the park core and the campgrounds and huts. More details on each route in the route options section below.

Psst! Want to save 20% off a premium Gaia GPS annual membership, which includes the maps I use on my trips? Use this link.

Mount Assiniboine Reservations

You need reservations to stay in the core area at Mount Assiniboine at Lake Magog Campground, Og Campground, the Naiset Huts, and Assiniboine Lodge. You also need reservations to camp at Banff National Park campgrounds on the hike into the core area.

And new for 2024, you need reservations to camp at Porcupine Campground on the hike into Assiniboine from Sunshine.

However, you do not need reservations at the first-come, first-served BC Parks campgrounds onthe west side of the park and at Mitchell Meadows near the core. You can find more details about each campground in the Camping section below and more info on each hiking trail into the core in the Route Options section below.

Parks Canada Reservations open in January or February each year. In 2024, backcountry reservations for Banff National Park open on January 29, 2024, at 8 a.m. Mountain Time. You must book on the Parks Canada Reservations website.

BC Parks reservations open online 4 months before your trip. You can book your entire BC Parks itinerary staring four months before your trip. So if you want to book August 1 at Porcupine and August 2 and 3 at Lake Magog, you can reserve all three nights starting on April 1.

Reservation Tips:

  • Book as soon as reservations open – popular dates sell out in the first hour.
  • Have everyone in your group online and trying to book to maximize your chances.
  • Have a backup plan in case you don’t get your first choice of campsites.
  • Due to the timing of reservations, it can be tough to line up itineraries with campsites in both Banff National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, especially since you have to reserve Banff first. However, campsites in Banff are much less popular and you may be able to pick up a weekday booking after you get your Assiniboine reservations. (See the Camping and Itinerary sections below.)
  • Practice using the booking systems before they open so you know how to click through the options fast on opening day. For Parks Canada reservations, you will need to know your access point – pick Bryant Creek for the Br campsites and Sunshine for Howard Douglas Lake.
  • If you didn’t get a reservation, keep checking back as people cancel and spots open up. A more efficient way is to sign up for a camping cancellation notification app like Campnab or Schnerp. Read my guide to camping cancellation apps to find out how they work and which one I recommend.
  • Find more details and tips for booking in my guide to making backcountry reservations in BC.

Mount Assiniboine Fees and Costs

The cost of your trip to Mount Assiniboine depends a lot on which route you take and how long you stay. Here’s a quick breakdown of costs:

Camping at Lake Magog, Og Lake or Porcupine: $10/person per night + $6/night/tent pad reservation fee

Camping at other BC Parks campgrounds: free

Camping at Banff National Park campgrounds: $13.50/person/night + $11.50 flat-rate reservation fee for your whole booking

Naiset Huts: $150-$240/hut/night

Assiniboine Lodge: $440-$645/person/night

National Park entry fees: $11/person/day or $22/vehicle (up to 7 people)/day – or buy a Discovery Pass for $151.25 that covers up to 7 people in the same vehicle for an entire year

Kananaskis Conservation Pass: $15/vehicle/day or $90/vehicle/year

Sunshine gondola: $65/person

Helicopter flight: $215-$245/person/each way

Flying gear in/out of the park: $5/pound/each way

A tent in the Lake Magog Campground with Mount Assiniboine
Mount Assiniboine peeking out from the clouds above the Lake Magog Campground

Mount Assiniboine Route Options

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park sits high in the Canadian Rockies. Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park, and Crown land surround the park and there are no roads into it. That means it is a long hike to get there.

There are six main ways to get to the park: five hiking routes and the option to fly in by helicopter. There are also several mountaineering routes into the park, but they require technical climbing and glacier travel. Below I’ve got details on each of the route options for hikers.

Here’s a quick comparison table of the hiking options:

RouteDistanceTimeElevation GainElevation Loss
Assiniboine Pass25.5 km8-11 hours766 m327 m
Wonder Pass26.7 km8-11 hours1003 m567 m
Sunshine/Citadel Pass27.4 km9-12 hours956 m952 m
Simpson River32.3 km11-13 hours1625 m676 m
Mitchell River24.9 km8-14 hours1230 m245 m

Helicopters to Mount Assiniboine

You can also get to Mount Assiniboine by helicopter instead of hiking. You can fly directly from Canmore or from the Mount Shark Helipad on Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays. The helicopter will drop you off next to the Assiniboine Lodge. From there it’s a 2 km walk to the Lake Magog Campground.

You can fly one way and hike the other way or fly both ways. You must have a valid lodge, Naiset huts or campground booking or they won’t let you fly. All bookings are managed through Assiniboine Lodge.

Flights are 10 minutes long and pretty scenic. If you are flying from Mount Shark, keep in mind that there may be up to 12 flights per day and you may have to wait up to 2 hours for your flight to depart. You likely won’t get to camp until after lunch.

Two people look out the window of a helicopter on the flight to Mount Assiniboine
Looking out the helicopter window at the Spray Lakes Reservoir. Photo: Brenda Remedios.

In summer 2024, flights are $245/person from Canmore or $215/person from Mount Shark plus 5% tax.

The Mount Shark Helipad is NOT at the Mount Shark trailhead. They are about 2.2 km apart by road or 1.5 km by trail.

If you hike to Mount Assiniboine and want to fly out instead of hiking, it may be possible – ask at the Lodge during tea time or ask the ranger who comes through Lake Magog campground every evening.

Luggage

You can bring up to 40 lbs of luggage as long as your bag isn’t too big. There is a fee for overweight baggage, but in my experience, they don’t weigh your bags or check that they aren’t too big. You can’t have anything attached to the outside of your bag – put everything inside or send additional gear in a separate bag.

Your bags might not be on the same flight as you so label your gear – our group lost an expensive pair of carbon fibre poles that another hiker must have mistaken as theirs.

Info signs at the helicopter flight check in for Mount Assiniboine
Info signs about luggage requirements and check-in for helicopter flights.

You can also pay to have your gear flown in or out for $5/pound/each way. You can set this up beforehand, or make arrangements on the day you fly either from Canmore or at the Assiniboine Lodge.

Hiking via Assiniboine Pass

Trailhead: Mount Shark/Bryant Creek

Distance: 25.5 km

Elevation Gain: 766 m

Elevation Loss: 327 m

Time: 8 to 11 hours

Campsites: Big Springs (Br9), Marvel Lake (Br13) (via side trail), McBride’s Camp (Br14), Allenby Junction (Br17)

Pass Needed: Kananaskis Conservation Pass required to park at the Mount Shark Trailhead

Pros: Easiest and most straightforward hike.

Cons: Least scenic.

Mount Assiniboine Park map showing the route from Mount Shark to Lake Magog via Assiniboine Pass.
The route from Mount Shark trailhead to Lake Magog via Assiniboine Pass (in purple) and the alternative route over Wonder Pass in red. Click here to zoom in or download the gpx file in Gaia GPS.
Assiniboine Pass elevation profile
Elevation profile from Gaia GPS for the Assiniboine Pass route from Mount Shark trailhead to Lake Magog.

Key Distances

LocationDistanceElevation
Mount Shark Trailhead0 km1745 m
Bryant Creek Bridge6.3 km1720 m
Big Springs Camp (Br9)9 km1745 m
Wonder Pass Junction/Marvel Lake Camp (Br13)12.4 km1830 m
Bryant Creek Shelter (closed)13 km1865 m
McBride’s Camp (Br14)13.4 km1870 m
Allenby Junction Camp (Br14)16.5 km1875 m
Lower Horse Trail Junction16.8 km1880 m
Upper Horse Trail Junction21.4 km2125 m
Assiniboine Pass22 km2190 m
O’Brien Camp Junction22.2 km2150 m
Sunshine Route Junction23.7 km2165 m
Assiniboine Lodge Junction24 km2175 m
Lake Magog Camp25.5 km2180 m

Assiniboine Pass Route Description

The Assiniboine Pass Route is the easiest and most straightforward way to hike to the core area of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. The first half of the route is in a boring forest. However, once you get to the Wonder Pass junction, it opens up a bit more and you get some views of the surrounding peaks.

It’s also worth noting that this route is the same one that helicopters take, so it will be noisy on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

This route starts from the Mount Shark Trailhead in Spray Valley Provincial Park the Kananaskis Valley. It follows a wide gravel road through the Mount Shark Nordic ski area to Wattridge Lake, then descends to the end of the Spray Lakes Reservoir. From here, it becomes more of a trail. After you cross the bridge over Bryant Creek you will enter Banff National Park.

A hiker on the Wattridge Lake Trail near Mount Shark Trailhead
The boring section of old road near Wattridge Lake

The trail follows Bryant Creek up the valley to the pass. Along the way, you will pass Big Springs Camp (Br9), the turn-off to the Wonder Pass Route, Marvel Lake Camp (Br13), McBride’s Camp (Br14), and Allenby Junction Camp (Br17).

A hiker on the trail to Assiniboine Pass
One of the first places where the views start to open up, near McBride’s Camp

The steep last section of the trail before the pass (called Allenby Pass) is closed to hikers each year between August 1 and September 30 due to increased grizzly activity. However, you can take the Horse Trail instead which stays lower in the valley.

The two routes meet near the top of Assiniboine Pass. From the pass, the trail descends past the turn-off to the O’Brien Meadows Horse and Group camps. Next, pass the junctions for trails to Sunshine/Citadel Pass and the Assiniboine Lodge as you continue towards Lake Magog Campground.

Hiking via Wonder Pass

Trailhead: Mount Shark/Bryant Creek

Distance: 26.7 km

Elevation Gain: 1003 m

Elevation Loss: 567 m

Time: 8 to 11 hours

Campsites: Big Springs (Br9), Marvel Lake (Br13), McBride’s Camp (Br14) (via side trail)

Pass Needed: Kananaskis Conservation Pass required to park at the Mount Shark Trailhead

Pros: Great views along Marvel Lake and at Wonder Pass

Cons: The bottom half of the route through the forest has no views.

Mount Assiniboine Park map showing the Wonder Pass route
The route from Mount Shark trailhead to Lake Magog via Wonder Pass (in red) and the alternative route over Assiniboine Pass in purple. Click here to zoom in or download the gpx file in Gaia GPS.
Wonder Pass route elevation profile
Elevation profile from Gaia GPS for the Wonder Pass route from Mount Shark trailhead to Lake Magog.

Key Distances

LocationDistanceElevation
Mount Shark Trailhead0 km1745 m
Bryant Creek Bridge6.3 km1720 m
Big Springs Camp (Br9)9 km1745 m
Wonder Pass Junction/McBride’s Camp (Br14)12.4 km1830 m
Marvel Lake Camp (Br13)12.9 km1815 m
Wonder Pass22.3 km2375 m
Naiset Huts24.9 km2190 m
Lake Magog Camp26.7 km2180 m

Wonder Pass Route Description

The Wonder Pass route shares the same trail as the Assiniboine Pass Route for the first 12.4 km. The Wonder Pass route is tougher than Assiniboine Pass since it has a much steeper ascent. But it has incredible views.

I recommend using this trail for your descent since most of the views will be behind you on your way up. I really liked hiking down this way – it was gorgeous! And that way you can take the gentler route over Assiniboine pass on the way in and avoid the extra climb to Wonder Pass with heavy packs.

After the routes split, the Wonder Pass route does a brief stint in the forest. Then it climbs up onto a shoulder high above Marvel Lake. The next four kilometers have incredible views of the lake. Then the route turns right and starts climbing steeply through the trees to Wonder Pass.

The gravel trail high above Marvel Lake in Banff National Park
Hiking high above Marvel Lake

Once you hit the treeline, there are great views down to Marvel Lake, but they are behind you. Near the top of Wonder Pass you can take a side trail to a viewpoint with better views over Marvel Lake. On the other side of the pass, the trail descends through open meadows and stands of larch. It passes Gog Lake and the Naiset Huts before turning onto the lakeshore trail to hike to Lake Magog Camp.

A hiker walks on a narrow trail through Wonder Pass in Banff National Park
Starting the descent from Wonder Pass towards Marvel Lake

Hiking via Sunshine/Citadel Pass

Trailhead: Sunshine Village

Distance: 27.4 km

Elevation Gain: 956 m

Elevation Loss: 952 m

Time: 9 to 12 hours

Campsites: Howard Douglas (Su8), Porcupine (via side trail), Og Lake

Passes Needed: National Park Pass required to park at Sunshine; Sunshine Gondola Ticket to get to the top of the gondola

Pros: Best scenery

Cons: Lots of ups and downs, more expensive

Mount Assiniboine Trail map showing the route from Sunshine/Citadel Pass to Lake Magog
The route from Sunshine gondola to Lake Magog via Citadel Pass. Click here to zoom in or download the gpx file in Gaia GPS.
Elevation profile of the hiking route from Sunshine to Lake Magog via Citadel Pass.
Elevation profile from Gaia GPS for the Sunshine/Citadel Pass route from Sunshine gondola trailhead to Lake Magog.

Key Distances

LocationDistanceElevation
Citadel Pass Trailhead0 km2200 m
Howard Douglas Camp (Su8)5.5 km2260 m
Citadel Pass9 km2370 m
Upper Porcupine Camp Junction12.1 km2010 m
Lower Porcupine Camp Junction18.8 km1940 m
Og Lake Camp20.8 km2060 m
Assiniboine Pass Junction25.5 km2165 m
Assiniboine Lodge Junction25.8 km2175 m
Lake Magog Camp27.4 km2180 m

Sunshine Village/Citadel Pass Route Description

The route from Sunshine Village is arguably the most scenic way to hike to Mount Assiniboine, but it has lots of elevation gain and loss and is more expensive since you have to pay for the gondola. Despite that, many hikers think it is easier since you don’t have a big climb all at once.

The trip formally starts from the top of the Sunshine Gondola, so you will have to buy a ticket for about $50 (2024 prices TBA). You can also walk up the dusty access road to the top of the gondola. This adds 5.5 km and 510 m of elevation gain to your trip. Dogs aren’t allowed on the gondola – they have to walk up. Check the gondola hours before your trip!

The first section heads uphill before descending to Howard Douglas Lake Campground. Next, you go up and over Citadel Pass before descending steeply to a junction. You can descend even further to Porcupine Campground in Golden Valley on a side trail, or continue along the main trail.

The trail has lots of little ups and downs as it passes through the Valley of Rocks, but in general, it trends gently uphill to Og Lake Campground in beautiful meadows. From Og Lake, the trail goes through more meadows. You will pass the junctions with the Assiniboine Pass Trail first and then the trail to Assiniboine Lodge before arriving at Lake Magog Campground.

Note: There aren’t very many water sources on this trail, so it’s best to fill up where you can. If you aren’t planning to stop at Porcupine, carry enough water from Howard Douglas Lake to get you to Og Lake.

View of Mount Assiniboine from Og Lake
View of Mount Assiniboine from Og Lake. Photo: edb3_16/Deposit Photos

Hiking via Simpson River/Ferro Pass Trail

Trailhead: Simpson River

Distance: 32.3 km

Elevation Gain: 1625 m

Elevation Loss: 676 m

Time: 11-13 hours

Campsites: Surprise Creek, Rock Lake, Mitchell Meadows

Pass Needed: National Park pass required to park at the trailhead

Pros: Solitude, easy to get first-come, first-served campsites

Cons: Half of the hike is in a burned forest, high bear activity.

Map showing the Simpson River/Ferro Pass route to Mount Assiniboine Park
The route from Simpson River Trailhead to Lake Magog via Ferro Pass. Click here to zoom in or download the gpx file in Gaia GPS.
Elevation profile showing the Simpson River/Ferro Pass route to Mount Assiniboine
Elevation profile from Gaia GPS for the Simpson River/Ferro Pass route from Simpson River trailhead to Lake Magog.

Key Distances

LocationDistanceElevation
Simpson River Trailhead0 km1240 m
Surprise Creek Camp11.4 km1410 m
Rock Lake Camp18.5 km1975 m
Ferro Pass22.5 km2285 m
Mitchell Meadows Camp26.6 km1995 m
Mitchell River Junction/Cerulean Lake29.6 km2220 m
Lake Magog Camp32.3 km2180 m

Simpson River/Ferro Pass Route Description

You won’t find much information about this route into the Mount Assiniboine Core area since several wildfires burned through this area and it has closed for many years. However, the area is starting to recover and a BC Parks crew cleared the trail in August 2023 so it should be in good condition.

However, it is worth noting that the area is known for high grizzly bear activity. Hike in a group, make noise, and carry bear spray.

This obscure route is best for those who want solitude and to see the quieter eastern side of the park. It starts on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. Cross the Simpson River on a suspension bridge and follow the trail up the river through the burn area to the boundary between Kootenay National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park

Continue to Surprise Creek, which no longer has a bridge. However, apparently, it is straightforward to ford it a short distance past the old bridge location. Surprise Creek Campground is on the other side. The trail continues uphill through the forest alongside Surprise Creek, passing Rock Lake Campground, before cresting Ferro Pass in a meadow.

From there, it heads downhill through the trees to Mitchell Meadows Campground, then past Cerulean and Sunburst Lakes to finish at Lake Magog Campground.

Hiking via Mitchell River Trail

Trailhead: Mitchell River Trailhead

Distance: 24.9 km

Elevation Gain: 1230 m

Elevation Loss: 245 m

Time: 8-14 hours

Campsites: Mitchell River Shelter

Pass Needed: None

Pros: Short hike, solitude

Cons: Long drive to the trailhead, unmaintained trail, multiple river crossings

Map of the Mitchell River route in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
The route from Mitchell River Trailhead to Lake Magog. Click here to zoom in or download the gpx file in Gaia GPS.
Elevation profile of the Mitchell River hiking trail
Elevation profile from Gaia GPS for the Mitchell River Pass route from Baymag Mine trailhead to Lake Magog.

Key Distances

LocationDistanceElevation
Mitchell River Trailhead0 km1565 m
Mitchell River Shelter6 km1625 m
Simpson River Junction/Cerulean Lake14.3 km2220 m
Lake Magog Camp16.9 km2180 m

Mitchell River Route Description

This route to Mount Assiniboine is very obscure, unmaintained and not very well travelled, except by the occasional horseback rider. It also fords the Mitchell River many times, which can be challenging. Expect lots of downed trees and route finding.

The Mitchell River Trail starts on Crown Land outside the park near the Baymag Mine. Getting to this trailhead involves lots of backroad driving. You must get permission to park at the mine and walk through their land. From the mine, you will walk up a gravel road for six kilometres. Then trail follows the Mitchell River closely as it heads uphill through the forest past the Mitchell River Shelter.

Pass through intermitent meadows before joining the more popular trails around Cerulean and Sunburst Lakes to finish at Lake Magog Campground.

How to Get to the Trailheads

There are four different trailheads. Below I’ve got driving directions for each one as well as info on how to get from one trailhead to another if you are doing a traverse hike.

Pro tip: I’ve heard of car break-ins at these trailheads, especially at Mount Shark. Don’t leave anything in your car.

I also made a custom Google Map for you that shows all of the trailheads and driving routes. Click here to zoom in and explore.

How to Get to Mount Shark/Bryant Creek Trailhead

The Mount Shark Trailhead is located in Spray Valley Provincial Park south of Canmore. To get there, you will need to drive the Smith-Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) south from Canmore for 40 km. From there you drive 5 km on Mount Shark Road to its end at a large parking area.

The whole drive takes 45 minutes to an hour and is mostly on well-graded gravel roads that are fine for all vehicles. In general, I found it really scenic with incredible views of the mountains along the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

There is no public transportation to this trailhead. Click here for Google Maps driving directions. Keep in mind that you will lose cell service after you leave Canmore.

Note: You must have a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to park here. You can buy one online before you arrive.

Signs at the Mount Shark trailhead for Mount Assiniboine
Info signs at the Mount Shark Trailhead, which Banff National Park calls the Bryant Creek Trailhead

How to Get to Sunshine/Citadel Trailhead

Sunshine Village is just 20 minutes north of the town of Banff on Sunshine Road. To get there, head north on Highway 1 from Banff, then take the marked Sunshine exit. Continue up the Sunshine Road for another 8 km to its end at the huge parking lot. Click here for Google Maps driving directions. You likely will lose cell service on the Sunshine Road.

Sunshine also offers a FREE shuttle bus service from Banff to the gondola base. Summer 2024 shuttle info is TBA. You can also take a taxi from Banff.

Once you get to the Sunshine parking lot, you can pay to ride the gondola to the top or walk the 5 km road. The trailhead is at the top of the gondola. Be sure to look up current gondola hours, especially if you hike back this way.

Note: You must have a National Park Pass to park here.

Sunshine Village gondola in the summer
Sunshine Village gondola. Photo: Anderson.Nancy/Deposit Photos

How to Get to Simpson River Trailhead

The Simpson River Trailhead is located on Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. The 78-kilometre drive from Banff via Highway 1 and Highway 93 takes about 55 minutes. The parking area is small but rarely busy. Click here for Google Maps driving directions. There is no public transportation to this trailhead. You will likely lose cell service after you leave Banff.

Note: You must have a National Park Pass to park here.

How to Get to Mitchell River Trailhead

This trailhead is located on Crown Land at the Baymag Mine. To get here involves quite a bit of backroad driving. The gravel roads are shared with mining trucks so they are well-maintained, but you do have to watch for fast-moving industrial traffic.

From Radium Hot Springs, take Highway 93 east for 20 km. Turn right onto Settler’s Road, which is gravel and follow it for 12 km. At a fork, stay left to take the Cross River Forest Service Road over the bridge towards Nipika Mountain Resort. Go past the resort, staying on Cross River FSR as the road swings north.

Stay on Cross River FSR for 20 km. At another fork, bear left onto Mitchell Creek FSR. Follow this road for another 6 km to the Baymag Mine. Ask permission at the mine to park and walk through the site to start your hike. Allow at least an hour for the drive. Click here for Google Maps Driving Directions. There is no public transportation to this trailhead.

There is no cell service for the drive and the backroads can be confusing, so I recommend using the Gaia GPS app to navigate.

Psst! Want to save 20% off a premium Gaia GPS annual membership, which includes the maps I use on my trips? Use this link.

How to Get Between Trailheads

With several routes into the core area of Mount Assiniboine, putting together a one-way hike that combines more than one route sounds appealing. Unfortunately, transportation between trailheads is really challenging – there is no public transportation. (White Mountain Adventures used to offer a shuttle service between trailheads but they stopped offering it.)

The easiest way to get between two trailheads is to have two cars or get dropped off. However, the driving distances between trailheads are long – between 1 and 3.5 hours each way, depending on which trailhead you choose. The trailheads are also quite remote, so hitchhiking would be a long shot.

You can try working with other hikers in the Mount Assiniboine Facebook group to set up a key swap or cooperative car shuttle.

Booking a taxi in Banff or Canmore is also an option, although depending on the distance, it may be very expensive or the company may not want to travel that far. Three Sisters Taxi in Canmore is your best bet. They have fixed rates for transport between Mount Shark, Sunshine, Banff, and Canmore ranging from $250 to $350 for up to 4 people depending on how far you need to go.

The easiest way to do a one-way trip is to fly in or out of Mount Assiniboine from Canmore and then hike in or out via Sunshine. That way you can take the bus from Canmore to Banff and then the shuttle from Banff to Sunshine.

Have questions about Mount Assiniboine? Join the Mount Assiniboine Facebook Group to connect with other hikers!

Where to Stay at Mount Assiniboine

The wilderness area around Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is fairly large with lots of backcountry campgrounds to choose from. There are also huts and a lodge in the core area of the park Below I’ve got the run-down on all the options for places to stay at Mount Assiniboine both in the core area and on the hike in.

Map of the Mount Assiniboine core area showing the main campsites, lodge, and huts
Where to stay in the Assiniboine core area: campgrounds, Naiset Huts and the Assiniboine Lodge

Assiniboine Lodge

Built in 1928, this rustic backcountry lodge offers accommodation both in lodge rooms and stand-alone cabins. Stays at the lodge include all meals and guided hikes every day. Rates range from $440-$645 plus tax per person per night.

You can hike into the lodge or pay for a helicopter in. But no matter how you arrive, your stay must match up with the helicopter schedule. This means arriving or departing on a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday or holiday Monday.

Bookings for the lodge are very popular. You must submit a request form in August of each year to get a spot for the following year. However, they do have a waitlist in case of cancellations.

The exterior of the historic Assiniboine Lodge
The historic Assiniboine Lodge.

Naiset Huts

The Naiset Huts are a cluster of five backcountry huts owned by BC Parks but operated by Assiniboine Lodge. Each log hut sleeps 5-8 people (depending on the size of the hut) on basic wooden bunks. Hut guests must use the nearby Wonder Lodge cooking shelter to eat and prepare meals.

You have to book the whole hut. And just like with the Assiniboine Lodge, your stay must match up with the helicopter schedule. (So you have to arrive/depart on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday.) Rates range from $150-$240 per hut per night.

Bookings for the Naiset huts are by phone only and open in early January each year for the following summer. The entire summer books up right away. There is no waitlist.

One of the Naiset Huts at Mount Assiniboine
Aster Hut, one of the five Naiset Huts

Hind Hut

The Hind Hut is a rustic backcountry hut for climbers attempting to scale Mount Assiniboine. You will need mountaineering equipment and glacier travel skills to reach it. This is not a hut for hikers. You can reserve the Hind Hut through Mount Assiniboine Lodge.

Sign on the way to Hind Hut
Warning sign at the start of the mountaineer’s route to Hind Hut. Photo: Brenda Remedios.

Camping

Between the core area and the approach trails, there are 14 campgrounds and rustic shelters you need to know about at Mount Assiniboine. I’ve got details on each one below.

CampParkReservations?LocationDistance from Lake Magog
Lake MagogBC ParksYesCore0 km
O’Brien Meadows (Group Site)BC ParksYesCore/Assiniboine Pass Route3.3 km
Mitchell MeadowsBC ParksNoCore/Simpson River Route5.7 km
Og LakeBC ParksYesCore/Sunshine Route6.6 km
Allenby Junction (Br17)Parks CanadaYesAssiniboine Pass Route9 km
McBride’s Camp (Br14)Parks CanadaYesAssiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes12.1 km
Bryant Creek Shelter (Closed)Parks CanadaClosedAssiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes12.5 km
Marvel Lake (Br13)Parks CanadaYesAssiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes13.8 km
Bryant Creek Shelter (closed)Parks CanadaClosedAssiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes
Big Springs (Br9)Parks CanadaYesAssiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes16.5 km
PorcupineBC ParksYesSunshine Route14.8 km
Police Meadows ShelterBC ParksNoSunshine Route18.3 km
Howard Douglas (Su8)Parks CanadaYesSunshine Route21.9 km
Rock LakeBC ParksNoSimpson River Route13.8 km
Surprise CreekBC ParksNoSimpson River Route20.9 km
Mitchell River ShelterBC ParksNoMitchell River Route10.9 km

Lake Magog Campground

Location: Core Area

Reservations Required? Yes – book through BC Parks

Fees: $10/person/night + $6/tent pad/night reservation fee

Best For: Using as a base camp for day hikes in the core area.

Lake Magog Campground is the most popular campground at Mount Assiniboine. Most hikers plan to base themselves here for a couple nights to enjoy the scenery at Lake Magog and go on day hikes.

The campground has 40 dirt and gravel tent pads (though some are prone to flooding during heavy rain). The campground has outhouses, food lockers, and food hanging poles. There are also two covered cooking shelters with greywater disposal pits.

There are also non-potable water taps next to the cooking shelters, but you still have to treat your water. Late in the season, the taps may be off either because the water supply has run dry or because the pipes are frozen. In that case, you can get water from the stream on the east side of the campground or from the lake. The taps were off when I stayed here, but we were able to use the creek, which was a 5-minute walk from the cooking shelters.

Cooking shelter at Lake Magog Campground
The upper cooking shelter at the Lake Magog Campground

The campsites are mostly in the trees (although some are in small meadows), but there aren’t really any great views. However, the trees do help if you want to put a tarp up – some of the meadow campsites get pretty soggy when it rains heavily or when it snows and then melts.

Tents at the Lake Magog Campground
Tents in the meadow on the west side of the campground.

The campground is huge with lots of little trails connecting the tent pads and cooking shelters. It can be a bit confusing to wander around in but the map at the campground entrance does help.

On my trip, we stayed at Lake Magog for three nights. It was a great base for day hikes. And it was so nice to have the covered cooking area since we had a lot of rain and slushy snow.

Map of the Lake Magog Campground in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Map of the Lake Magog Campground in Mount Assiniboine. Map via BC Parks

O’Brien Meadows Group and Horse Campgrounds

Location: Core Area/Assiniboine Pass Route – 3.3 km from Lake Magog Camp

Reservations Required? Yes – book through Assiniboine Lodge

Fees: Inquire with Assiniboine Lodge for details.

Best For: Groups of 15 people or more OR horseback riders

These two campgrounds are located just west of Assiniboine Pass on the way to Assiniboine Lodge. You must have at least 15 people in your group to book the group site. And you must be on horseback and have a letter of permission from BC Parks to reserve the Horse Camp. Booking are through Assiniboine Lodge.

Mitchell Meadows Campground

Location: Core/Simpson River Route – 5.7 km from Lake Magog Camp

Reservations Required? No – all sites are first-come, first-served

Fees: Free

Best For: Staying close to the core area without a reservation

The Mitchell Meadows campground is pretty under the radar even though it is just 5.7 km from Lake Magog Campground and doesn’t require reservations. However, it is a very basic campground with only two dirt tent pads, an outhouse and a food locker.

It’s a great location for day hikes to Elizabeth, Cerulean, Sunburst and Magog Lakes. It’s also very convenient if you want to hike to the Nubet and Nub Peak. The only disadvantage is that if you hike in from Assiniboine Pass, Wonder Pass, or Sunshine, you will have to hike through Lake Magog Campground to get here.

Og Lake Campground

Location: Core/Sunshine Route – 6.6 km from Lake Magog Camp

Reservations Required? Yes – book through BC Parks

Fees: $10/person/night + $6/tent pad/night reservation fee

Best For: Views and if you’re hiking in from Sunshine.

Og Lake Campground has great views of Mount Assiniboine peaking out from behind a ridge. It’s really the only campground with views since it is set in beautiful meadows. This popular campground has 10 dirt tent pads, an outhouse, food lockers, and a cooking area. It’s 6.6 km from Og Lake to Lake Magog, so it’s an ok basecamp for day hikes in the Lake Magog core area.

Looking out from inside a tent at Og Lake near Banff
Tent views at Og Lake. Photo: edb3_16/Deposit Photos

Allenby Junction (Br17), McBride’s (Br14), Marvel Lake (Br13), and Big Springs (Br9) Campgrounds and Bryant Creek Shelter

Location: Assiniboine Pass/Wonder Pass Route – 9 km, 12.1 km, 13.8 km, and 16.5 km from Lake Magog Camp

Reservations Required? Yes – book through Parks Canada

Fees: $13.50/person/night + $11.50 flat-fee reservation fee per booking

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area along the Assiniboine Pass or Wonder Pass Routes

These four forested campgrounds are located along Bryant Creek on the way to Assiniboine Pass and Wonder Pass. They all have pit toilets, cooking areas, and food lockers.

I’ve included the “Br” numbers with each campsite, as that’s the Parks Canada code for them that you will see on Park signs and when making a reservation. The “Br” part is for Bryant Creek because that’s the section of the park they are in.

Marvel Lake (Br13) and McBride’s (Br14) are the most popular since they are roughly at the halfway point (12.1/13.8 km from Lake Magog). They each have 10 tent sites. Marvel is technically on the Wonder Pass Route and McBride’s is technically on the Assiniboine Pass, but both are just a few hundred meters from the junction, so it’s easy to stay at both camps on either route. It’s also worth noting that Marvel isn’t actually on the lake.

I stayed at McBride’s on my hike out. Since all the tent sites are in the forest, it was pretty dark and cold, but the cooking area did get a bit of sun.

Big Springs (Br9) (5 tent sites) isn’t as busy since it is too early in the hike (16.5 km from Magog), but it’s before the Wonder Pass and Assiniboine Pass routes split

Big Springs Campground in Banff National Park
The entrance to Big Springs campground.

Allenby Junction (Br17) (5 tent sites) is the closest to Lake Magog (9 km away) so camping here will give you more time at Magog the following day. Staying here is only feasible if you are hiking the Assiniboine Pass Route.

The Bryant Creek Shelter sleeps 12 people and has an outhouse and food lockers. However, it has been closed for redevelopment for several years and has no announced reopening date.

Map showing campgrounds on the Assiniboine Pass and Wonder Pass routes to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Map showing the locations of all the campgrounds along the Assiniboine Pass and Marvel Pass Routes

Porcupine Campground

Location: Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route – 14.8 km from Lake Magog

Reservations Required? Yes – book through BC Parks

Fees: $10/person/night + $6/tent pad/night reservation fee

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area on the Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route

The Porcupine campground is located down a very steep side trail in the forested Golden Valley at roughly the halfway point between Sunshine Village and Lake Magog, so it’s a popular place to camp. The side trail to the campground is 1 km long and drops 225 meters. You can climb back up to resume your hike or follow another trail southeast through the valley bottom to meet back up with the main trail 3 km from camp

Porcupine Campground has 10 tent sites, an outhouse, a cooking area with picnic tables and food lockers.

Police Meadows Shelter

Location: Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route – 18.3 km from Lake Magog

Reservations Required? No – all sites are first-come, first-served

Fees: Free

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area on the Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route

To get to the Police Meadows Shelter, you hike to Porcupine Camp, then continue southeast. A few minutes later, turn right onto the trail to Police Meadows and immediately ford the creek. It’s about 3.5 km from the main trail to Police Meadows. The swampy trail is not maintained and can be hard to find in places. The Shelter is very rustic (and reportedly full of mice).

Police Meadows Shelter sleeps 6 on basic wooden bunks and has a woodstove, outhouse, and food lockers. Note that the cabin is closed from Oct 1 to 31 each year because it is leased to a hunting guide.

Map showing the locations of campgrounds along the Sunshine/Citadel Pass route to Lake Magog
Campgrounds on the Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route

Howard Douglas Campground (Su8)

Location: Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route – 21.9 km from Lake Magog

Reservations Required? Yes – book through Parks Canada

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area on the Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route

Fees: $13.50/person/night + $11.50 flat-fee reservation fee per booking

This campground is near Howard Douglas Lake on the Sunshine/Citadel Pass Route. It has five tent pads, an outhouse and food lockers. Since it is only 5.5 km from the top of the Sunshine Gondola, it is too early in the journey to stop for most hikers.

Note: The “Su8” in the name is the Parks Canada code for this campground. The “Su” is because you can access this campground from Sunshine Village.

Rock Lake and Surprise Creek Campgrounds

Location: Simpson River Route – 13.8 and 20.9 km from Lake Magog

Reservations Required? No – all sites are first-come, first-served

Fees: Free

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area on the Simpson River Route

These two campgrounds are on the less popular Simpson River Route. They both have outhouses and food lockers.

Rock Lake has 3 tent sites and a cooking area. Since it is set against the sheer sides of Indian Peak, Rock Lake is gorgeous.

Surprise Creek technically doesn’t have any designated tent sites, but apparently, there are places to pitch a tent. Surprise Creek also has a rustic cabin that sleeps 6-8 on wooden bunks and has a woodstove.

Campgrounds on the Simpson River/Ferro Pass Route to Lake Magog
Campgrounds on the Simpson River/Ferro Pass route.

Mitchell River Shelter

Location: Mitchell River Route – 10.9 km from Lake Magog

Reservations Required? No – all bunks are first-come, first-served

Fees: Free

Best For: Breaking up the journey into the Core Area on the Mitchell River Route

The Mitchell River Shelter is located on the seldom-used Mitchell River Route. BC Parks says it is extremely rustic and sleeps 6-8. It has a wood stove and a nearby outhouse. I haven’t been able to find any trip reports from anyone who has been to this shelter, so I don’t have much other info on it.

Day Hikes in the Mount Assiniboine Core Area

You will want to spend at least one or two days at Lake Magog to do some day hikes. Here are the main options:

The Niblet, The Nublet, and Nub Peak

This is the most popular hike at Assiniboine since it has great views of Mount Assiniboine, Sunburst Peak and the surrounding lakes. The Niblet and Nublet are subpeaks along the Nub Peak Ridge and all have great views.

I hiked up to the Nublet twice to try to get different views since the clouds kept moving in and out. I didn’t end up going all the way to Nub Peak since it started to rain and the wind was insane, but some of my friends summited while I was doing a different hike.

View from The Niblet at Assiniboine
Sunburst Peak from the Niblet. Mount Assiniboine is on the left in the clouds.
View from the Nublet
View from the top of the Nublet. Mount Assiniboine is still in the clouds to the left of Sunburst Peak
Nub Peak ridge in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
The ridge traverse between the Nublet and Nub Peak.

There are three ways to get to this hike. The first is via a trail from the Lodge that goes up to the Niblet, then continues up the ridge to the Nublet and Nub Peak. The other ways go to Sunburst Lake first. From, there, you can go east and connect with the trail coming from the lodge and go up the Nublet. Or you can continue past Cerulean Lake, and then take a trail that climbs the ridge to meet up with the trail to the Nublet and Nub Peak just above the Niblet.

From Lake Magog Camp, the most direct route (via Cerulean Lake) to the Niblet is 7 km return with 200 m of elevation gain, the Nublet is 8.5 km return with 330 m of gain, and Nub Peak is 11.2 km return with 635 m of gain. Some people may find the route to Nub Peak exposed and a bit scrambly.

Map showing day hikes from Lake Magog
Day hikes from Lake Magog include the Niblet, the Nublet, Nub Peak, Sunburst Lake, Cerulean Lake, Elizabeth Lake, and Lake Magog

Sunburst, Cerulean, and Elizabeth Lakes

This pretty trio of lakes sits northwest of Lake Magog. Sunburst and Cerulean have great views of Sunburst Peak. And from Elizabeth, you can look up to the ridge connecting the Nublet and Nub Peak. A short trail runs between all three lakes. I enjoyed this nice easy walk, even in the rain.

Historic cabin at Sunburst Lake
Elizabeth Rummel’s historic cabin at Sunburst Lake. Take some time to read the info sign here to learn about her fascinating life.
A hiker at Cerulean Lake
Cerulean Lake with Sunburst Peak on a rainy day
Elizabeth Lake at Assiniboine
Elizabeth Lake

It’s 1.5 km return with 50 m elevation gain to Sunburst Lake, 3 km return with 60 elevation gain to Cerulean Lake and 5 km return with 140 elevation gain to Elizabeth Lake from Lake Magog Campground. You can also connect the trail to the lakes with a hike to the Nublet or explore further towards Mitchell Meadows.

Lake Magog

Take some time to wander along the shoreline of Lake Magog. The main access to the lakeshores is in front of the lodge. From here, you get great views of Mount Assiniboine across the lake. You can also access the lake from the back of the campground. A rough trail parallels the creek down to the shore.

The trail to the shore of Lake Magog
The trail to the shore of Lake Magog from the Lodge

If you want to explore further, it’s possible to circumnavigate the lake on a series of informal paths through the gravel. I walked around the lake one afternoon on my trip. It was interesting to see the views from a different angle. But a rainstorm blew in when we were halfway around!

A hiker walks along the shoreline at the back of Lake Magog
Hiking around the back side of Lake Magog

Assiniboine Lodge for Afternoon Tea

It’s worth making the short 2 km hike to Assiniboine Lodge from the campground for afternoon tea. The front porch of the lodge is open for hikers on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (plus Sundays on long weekends) from 4 to 5 pm. They serve tea, cake, beer and wine. Bring cash and go early to get a good spot to sit.

On my trip, we were so excited to go for tea, but it was cancelled at the last minute since some people in the Naiset Huts were sick with a gastro virus and the Park Ranger and Lodge staff were concerned it would spread.

The front porch of the Assiniboine Lodge where hikers can get afternoon tea
Assiniboine Lodge

Wonder Pass

If you don’t plan to hike in or out of the core area via Wonder Pass, plan to day hike there instead. The route travels through pretty meadows and passes Gog Lake. The highlight is the incredible view from the pass. The larch trees here are also spectacular in fall.

Gog Lake in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Gog Lake
A hiker on the Wonder Pass Trail above Marvel Lake
The first view of Marvel Lake from the main Wonder Pass trail.

From Lake Magog Campground, it’s a 4.4 km hike to the pass with 185 of elevation gain. You can descend the pass for about half a kilometre then take an unmarked side trail to the left for a further 1.2 km each way to a great viewpoint over Marvel Lake.

Windy Ridge

This hike heads through the meadows to a beautiful viewpoint at the top of Windy Ridge, which is on the shoulder of Og Mountain. You’ll top out at 2675 m, which is one of the highest points in the area. From here, you can look down to Og Pass, north to Haflway Lodge in the Brewster Creek Valley and back towards Mount Assiniboine. Depending on the season, the wildflowers or larches may be putting on a show.

The hike is 14.5 km round-trip from Lake Magog Campground with 675 of elevation gain. The final section is a bit scrambly and exposed.

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Mount Assiniboine Itineraries

There are tons of different ways to set up a trip to Assiniboine. With six ways to get to the core area and 17 places to stay (campgrounds, shelters, huts, and a lodge) the possibilities are almost endless. I’ve got a few sample itineraries below that I recommend.

Here are my tips to keep in mind when designing an itinerary:

  • Plan to spend at least 1.5 to 2 days in the Lake Magog area to do day hikes.
  • If possible, book the Lake Magog campground. My itineraries below also work if you’re staying at the Lodge or Naiset Huts.
  • Strong hikers can make it to Lake Magog from the Mount Shark or Sunshine Trailheads or from Magog back out to the trailheads in one long day. However, you will be on the trail all day and should plan to start very early.
  • To make the hike in or out easier, consider paying to send your luggage by helicopter for $5/pound on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. However, at that price, it’s almost worth it to just fly yourself and get an extra day of hiking in the core area.
  • Booking sites in both Banff National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park can be tricky. (See the Reservations section above for more info). Make a back up itinerary in case you don’t get the sites you want.

Assiniboine Pass-Wonder Pass Loop

This is the classic way to hike to and from the Assiniboine core area. Start by going up Assiniboine Pass and go down Wonder Pass to enjoy the views on your way out. Strong hikers could cut this down to 4 or 5 days by hiking in or out in one day.

Day 1: Hike from Mount Shark Trailhead to Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Allenby Junction Camps (12.8 km/13.4 km/16.5 km with 266 m/319 m/351 m of elevation gain)

Day 2: Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Allenby Junction Camps to Lake Magog Camp over Assiniboine Pass (13.8 km/12.2 km/9 km with 530 m/451 m/417 m of elevation gain)

Day 3: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 4: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 5: Hike from Lake Magog Camp to Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps via Wonder Pass (13.8 km/13.5 km/17.6 km with 365 m of elevation gain)

Day 6: Hike from Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps to Mount Shark Trailhead (12.9 km/13.3 km/9 km with 200 m of elevation gain)

Bryant Creek Valley
Bryant Creek Valley

Out-and-Back From Sunshine

Most hikers agree that the route from Sunshine is the most scenic way to get to Assiniboine. While the route has lots of ups and downs, you gain most of the elevation in the gondola. Keep an eye on the gondola schedule, especially on the way back.

Day 1: Hike from the top of the Sunshine Gondola to Howard Douglas/Porcupine Camp/Og Lake Camps (5.6 km/13.3 km/20.7 km with 257 m/427 m/801 m of elevation gain)

Day 2: Hike from Howard Douglas/Porcupine/Og Lake Camps to Lake Magog Camp (21.7 km/14.8 km/6.7 km with 690 m/589 m/150 m of elevation gain)

Day 3: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 4: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 5: Hike from Magog Camp to Og Lake/Porcupine/Howard Douglas Camps (6.7 km/14.7 km/22.3 km with 26 m/195 m/843 m elevation gain)

Day 6: From from Og Lake/Porcupine/Howard Douglas Camps to the top of the Sunshine Gondola (20.7 km/13.3 km/5.6 km with 934 m/832 m182 m of elevation gain)

Traverse from Sunshine to Mount Shark via Wonder Pass

If you can figure out transportation between the trailheads, this itinerary gets you all the best scenery. Staring at Sunshine is a bit easier since there is less elevation gain at the start. For an easier version of this itinerary that includes a helicopter ride, see below. This is my dream itinerary and I want to find a way to make it happen for my next trip to Assiniboine.

Day 1: Hike from the top of the Sunshine Gondola to Howard Douglas/Porcupine Camp/Og Lake Camps (5.6 km/13.3 km/20.7 km with 257 m/427 m/801 m of elevation gain)

Day 2: Hike from Howard Douglas/Porcupine/Og Camps to Lake Magog Camp (21.7 km/14.8 km/6.7 km with 690 m/589 m/150 m of elevation gain)

Day 3: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 4: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 5: Hike from Lake Magog Camp to Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps via Wonder Pass (13.8 km/13.5 km/17.6 km with 365 m of elevation gain)

Day 6: Hike from Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps to Mount Shark Trailhead (12.9 km/13.3 km/9 km with 200 m of elevation gain)

Traverse from Assiniboine to Sunshine with Helicopter to Start

To make the shuttle logistics easier, you can also do the traverse itinerary in reverse and start with a helicopter. You would fly in to Assiniboine from Canmore (skipping two days of hiking), take the shuttle from Sunshine to Banff, and then the bus back to Canmore.

Day 1: Fly from Canmore or Mount Shark Helipad to Assiniboine, and then hike to Lake Magog Camp (2 km with 22 m of elevation gain). Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp.

Day 2: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 3: Hike from Magog Camp to Og Lake/Porcupine/Howard Douglas Camps (6.7 km/14.7 km/22.3 km with 26 m/195 m/843 m elevation gain)

Day 4: From from Og Lake/Porcupine/Howard Douglas Camps to the top of the Sunshine Gondola (20.7 km/13.3 km/5.6 km with 934 m/832 m/182 m of elevation gain)

Helicopter In, Wonder Pass Out

This itinerary is great if you are tight on time, have the budget for a helicopter ride, and still want to see lots of incredible scenery. Keep in mind that the Mount Shark Helipad is 1.5 km and 70 m past the Mount Shark Trailhead – the Day 4 stats reflect that. This is the itinerary that I used (with a stop at McBride’s Camp on the way out), except that we added an extra day at Lake Magog for 5 days total.

Day 1: Fly into Assiniboine from Mount Shark Helipad, and then hike to Lake Magog Camp (2 km with 22 m of elevation gain). Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp.

Day 2: Day hikes from Lake Magog Camp

Day 3: Hike from Lake Magog Camp to Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps via Wonder Pass (13.8 km/13.5 km/17.6 km with 365 m of elevation gain)

Day 4: Hike from Marvel Lake/McBride’s/Big Springs Camps to Mount Shark Helipad (14.4 km/14.8 km/11.5 km with 270 m of elevation gain)

Two hikers on the trail above Marvel Lake
My husband and I on the trail above Marvel Lake

Og Lake Base Camp From Sunshine

If you can’t get a reservation at Lake Magog, this itinerary still lets you see some of the area highlights. From Og Lake, you can day hike to Lake Magog, Nub Peak, Wonder Pass or Windy Ridge (but keep in mind that these will be long days.)

Day 1: Hike from the top of the Sunshine Gondola to Og Lake Camp (20.7 km with 801 m of elevation gain)

Day 2: Day hikes from Og Lake

Day 3: Day hikes from Og Lake

Day 4: Hike from Og Lake Camp to the top of the Sunshine Gondola (20.7 km with 934 m of elevation gain)

Out-and-Back via Simpson River

If you want an off-the-beaten-path itinerary, this one is for you. It uses trails in the quiet western side of the park but still lets you visit the core area. And best of all, it requires no reservations.

Day 1: Hike from the Simpson River trailhead to Surprise Creek/Rock Lake Camps (11.4 km/18.5 km with 170 m/735 m of elevation gain)

Day 2: Hike from Surprise Creek/Rock Lake Camps to Mitchell Meadows Camp (14.7 km/8 km with 958/371 m of elevation gain)

Day 3: Day hikes from Mitchell Meadows Camp

Day 4: Day hikes from Mitchell Meadows Camp

Day 5: Hike from Mitchell Meadows Camp to Rock Lake/Surprise Creek Camps (8 km/14.7 km with 354 m/377 m of elevation gain)

Day 6: Hike to Simpson River trailhead from Rock Lake/Surprise Creek Camps (18.5 km/11.4 km with no elevation gain)

Mount Assiniboine Hiking Tips

Park Rangers: The park rangers come through the campground around 6 pm each evening to check permits and answer camper questions. The rangers can also help you make helicopter arrangements. The rangers are not available at other times and hikers are not allowed to ask questions at the lodge except at tea time.

Tea the Lodge: Don’t miss afternoon tea at the Assiniboine Lodge on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 4 to 5 pm. Bring cash to buy tea, cake, beer and wine from the lodge’s front porch. They don’t let hikers come inside.

Helicopters: Consider flying in or out of Assiniboine to save more time for hikes in the core area. Or pay to have your luggage flown in or out to make your hike easier. If you didn’t pre-book, once you get to Assiniboine, you can ask at the Lodge at tea time or talk to the ranger at Lake Magog to arrange flights out or to fly your luggage out.

Helicopter loading at the Mount Shark Helipad
Helicopter loading at the Mount Shark Helipad

Bears: This is black and grizzly bear country. Bring bear spray, make noise as you hike, and store your food securely. See my bear safety tips for more info. I didn’t see any bears on my trip, but other campers told us they saw a big grizzly just outside the campground one evening and at Wonder Pass another afternoon.

Bugs: In July and early August the mosquitos can be bad, especially at some of the campgrounds since they are near water. Bring repellent and/or a head net.

Photography: Mount Assiniboine is a popular spot for photographers. The “money shot” is Sunburst Peak and Mount Assiniboine from the Niblet, Nublet or Nub Peak. Many people hike to Nub Peak several times to catch the mountains in different lights, especially at sunrise and sunset. Or to find a moment when Mount Assiniboine is not covered by clouds. Other good photography locations include Sunburst Lake, Gog Lake, Og Lake, and Wonder Pass. But keep in mind that the weather often does not cooperate!

Changeable weather: The high mountains are notorious for fickle weather. Rainstorms and even snow can blow in at any time – I had tons of bad weather on my trip, unfortunately. Bring lots of warm clothing, a warm sleeping bag, and waterproof rain gear and a good tent. My guide to the best weather apps for hikers has some great weather tips. And read my tips for staying warm in a tent – it gets cold up there!

A hiker takes a selfie in Assinboine Park
Wearing lots of layers including a rain jacket and a fleece hat on top of the Nublet to deal with crazy wind and rain in early September.

Horses: While this area was traditionally popular with horseback riders and you will see signs in the park about horse routes, horses are no longer common. Equestrians need a letter of permission from BC Parks to ride in the park.

Trail Conditions: Rangers post trail conditions reports online for Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park (scroll down to the Special Notes section) and Banff National Park

Cell Service/Wi-fi: There is no cell service anywhere in the park or on the hike into the park. The lodge does not have wi-fi. You will lose service soon after leaving Banff or Canmore. Be sure to download offline maps on your phone before you arrive. (I recommend using the Gaia GPS app.)

Psst! Want to save 20% off a premium Gaia GPS annual membership, which includes the maps I use on my trips? Use this link.

View from the Nublet
View from the Nublet

Now you have all the info you need to plan a hiking trip to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. I’m already dreaming of heading back here – probably to hike in via Sunshine. If you have questions or there’s anything I’m missing in this guide, ask in the comments I’d love to help.

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Taryn Eyton

Andy Gibb

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

This is a great resource, Taryn, and clearly took a ton of time to pull together! Even though I've been there, I can see myself referring to it for our next visit, so thank you!

I fully endorse hiking out via Wonder Pass rather than in - the views of Marvel Lake are stunning. Sure, Assiniboine Pass is less scenic, but it's definitely easier and we saw only one other group on that route (in September) beyond Bryant Shelter.

We stayed at Allenby Junction on our last visit and the tent sites were, well, rustic (that's a generous description). It's clearly not very popular but it was a great place to feel very small and isolated! We had something chew our tent while we were there - our best guess is a porcupine, but we never saw or heard it.

We also didn't see bears (only prints in the mud) but other people did. We heard elk and coyotes though.

It might be worth highlighting that Og Lake has no shelter - at all, not even trees - so you're totally exposed to the elements (as we found out in the pouring rain!). But the view of Assiniboine is awesome.

Yeah, we also want to do the traverse, but we've promised ourselves a helicopter ride next time as I think we've earned it, having hiked in from both ends :-) There's an even longer traverse suggested by the Copelands that I'd also love to try some day...