Jasper in June (Part 18) – Overlander Trail South End

There are so many hiking trails near the Jasper townsite, it would be difficult to run out of places to hike for an hour or a day or even longer. We were looking for a good day hike, something that would give us 3-4 hours of scenery and exercise. We were also looking for a trail that would not be overrun with hikers, so we would not have a problem physically distancing.

Valley of the 5 Lakes is one of our go-to hikes, but the parking lot was pretty busy when we drove by the day before on our way back from the Icefields. We could hike another route up onto Pyramid Bench, but we wanted something different.

We finally settled on the Overlander Trail (#10), a 15.5 km one way trail that starts at the parking lot near 6th bridge on the Maligne Lake Road and ends at a parking lot on Highway 16, some 18.1 km from the East access road to Jasper town. The elevation gain along the trail is only 65 meters (213 feet), but you gain and lose this several times along the North end of the trail. We did not have to worry about that, as we were only going to hike the South end, which is mostly flat and as we found out, does not have many of the spectacular views of the Athabasca River valley, promised in the hiking guide.

The trail is named after the Overlanders, who used it as early as 1862 when they travelled by foot, horseback and cart from Red River (Winnipeg) to get to the Caribou goldfields in New Caledonia (British Columbia).

Safely parked in the lot at 6th bridge, we geared up:

  • back pack – check
  • mosquito repellant – check
  • bear spray – check
  • hiking poles – check
  • water – check
  • lunch – check
  • way too many coats – check

…and headed out on the trail. Below, you will see the 6th bridge across the Maligne River and views of the river, as well. A lot of water moving along on this day.

The trail starts out as more of a logging/service road for the first bit, passing by the Warden’s stables fenced compound. Gradually the trail narrows and in places becomes a single foot path. Mostly flat, it does provide you with some brief view of a narrow part of the Athabasca River where the river splits around an island.

The trail passed through various types of forest, with glimpses of some peaks from time to time.

scruffy conifers and mossy forest floors lent a fairy tale look
bright green spring leaves frame a mountian peak
this section was more open, with prettier conifers, birch and aspen
we did pass through the scene of an ancient (we hoped) landslide
there were a few meadow openings which were likely signs of habitation from long ago
we had the occasional glimpse of the river
6.5 km (4 miles) in, we arrived at the John Moberly Family Homestead (story below)
the old cabin has fallen on hard times since a 1989 illegal campfire burnt part of it down
the story – can you imagine the round trip to Edmonton and return took 3 months – now we can do it in about 8 hours – we do NOT know hardship
a short walk away from the homestead we found the Athabasca River
and some better views
no place to picnic by the shore, unfortunately
the homestead from the river
view of mountains from the homestead
the still snowy peaks

Lunch over, I shrugged the backpack back on and we headed back from whence we came. It is amazing what a different view you get simply by turning around.

sign mimic

As we came out of the forest, we spotted the little bridge we had crossed earlier. Something drew us in to sit and enjoy the moment.

back to the bridge
meandering stream
taking a load off
a great place to reflect
we were both mesmerized by the ripples that formed as the water slid by the bridge pier
at long last, we were by one of the narrow side streams of the Athabasca River
another bridge to cross

Shortly after crossing the bridge above, we had a choice to make. Hike through the trees for .8 km to get back to the car or take the 1.3 km Flower Loop along the river. We were starved for river views, so opted for the longer path.

one more photo on 6th bridge

All in all, we estimate we hiked about 14 km this day. The day was cool and breezy, the bugs were not a bother and it was an easy hike.

19 thoughts on “Jasper in June (Part 18) – Overlander Trail South End

  1. I’m petitioning Parks Canada to use you on their signs from now on 😉
    Looks like a great hike. I lived in the Cariboo and am in AWE of how the Overlanders made that trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay. My new calling. You should see my Moose Crossing! Yes, just looking at this short portion gave me an appreciation for how Gold Fever must have urged them on. Thanks for reading Laeli. Allan

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    1. This was the easier end of the trail. The North end took a bit more effort, but, for sure, it was calm and quiet. We only saw a couple of other people along the way.

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  2. What a lovely and scenic trail to explore! I bet you can choose any trail in Jasper and be rewarded with beautiful mountain views, but I believe it would be challenging to pick just one trail. Thanks for sharing such incredible photos. Hopefully when things go back to normal I would get a chance to travel to Canada again. Take care 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you can. Hope to pick some new trails when we are there this fall to share. Looking forward to the fall colours and a change of scenery. Hope you get to visit one day, too. Thanks for reading Aiva. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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