Distance: half-day trip, allow 1.5 hours for the entire circuit.
Access: From the intersection of Connaught Drive and Hwy 93A (Hazel Ave.) follow 93A and cross the train tracks to the intersection with Hwy 16. Continue across the highway to the Old Fort Point/Lac Beauvert intersection. Turn left and follow this road, cross the bridge and turn right into the Old Fort Point parking lot.
Tip: Bring water, it’s a dry hike, baby.
Old Fort Point is one of the most frequented hikes in Jasper for a number of reasons. First, it’s only a five minute drive out of the town, and second, it has great views of the town and the surrounding peaks, lakes, and valleys. In a sense it provides an areal view map of the area.
Starting at the parking lot, you can go two ways. If you choose to start on trail #1 you make your way through heavily forested areas, varying from flat to gradual climbs for the first 1.5 km. This is followed by a short climb to the crest of Old Fort Point ridge where the trail turns back northwest. Continuing along the main trail to km 3 you reach the rocks marking the northwest summit viewpoint. Complete the circuit by descending the steep direct route to the staircase and parking area. You can do this hike the other way around by beginning at the wooden staircase at the parking lot and steeply climbing to the viewpoint. When I say steep climb, I mean a steep climb. And there is no water around unless you’re willing to take a gulp from the Athabasca, so make sure you bring enough supplies.
Looking out from the viewpoint you will see Whistler Mountain and gondola, the Athabasca River, the Icefields Parkway and the Yellowhead Highway which runs slightly north to your left. Ahead you’ll see the town of Jasper and behind it, the glorious Pyramid Mountain which looks particularly beautiful closer to dusk. To your right, you’ll find the green-blue waters of Lac Beauvert and Lake Annette and Edith. Behind you is Signal Mountain.
Old Fort Point is the gateway to a number of other hikes as well. You can continue on the #9 trail to Valley of the Five Lakes, a 11.5 km hike or bike.