Hiking the Discovery Trail in Jasper National Park

Looking for an easy hiking trail in Jasper National Park where you can learn something about natural resource preservation along the way?

A good article on Edmonton’s Vue Weekly entitled “Discovery Trail – Make a Discovery on Jasper’s Newest Trail” goes over the features and history of the 5.2 mile (8.3 km) Jasper Discovery Trail. Author Casey Blais hiked the trail and pointed out its many uses. Blais said that the Discovery Trail can be uses as “a mild stroll along a paved path next to Jasper’s rail yard or it can be challenging uphill sections of single track on your bike.” (via Edmonton Vue Weekly).

Not a bear (Photo by raindog)

Blais confirms that the trail provides a full experience, saying that the Jasper Discovery Trail “offers unique bird’s-eye-views of the town with the stunning peaks of Jasper as backdrop and for those wanting to learn more about the history of the area it can be an informative sojourn.” Hikers are rewarded by Douglas-fir forests, lodgepole pines, aspen groves and lots of views of mountains.

According to a different article by Parks Canada, the Jasper Discovery Trail was a collaborative effort between Parks Canada, the Municipality of Jasper, the Friends of Jasper National Park and the Jasper-Yellowhead Historical Society. Their goal in creating the Jasper Discovery Trail was to both improve hiking opportunities and improve wildlife habitat.

The article quotes the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, as saying the Discovery Trail “is a project which reflects exactly what Parks Canada is working to achieve – the protection of ecological integrity, the promotion of memorable experiences and the education of our visitors.”

Parks Canada points out that the trail offers something that Jasper National Park was missing – a trail that’s “easy, close to civilization, wide and hardened for various use types.”

The trail design is innovative in that it wraps around the border of Jasper townsite (see map link below) instead of traversing through new parts of the wildnerness – for the sake of preservation. Park visitors benefit from the trail being easy to hop onto from several entry points around Jasper townsite near hotels, restaurants and shopping.

By keeping humans closer to the town, there ends up being less human use of the more remote trails. This has a positive ecological impact.

Friends of Jasper, a non-profit that supports Jasper heritage, is coordinating signs for the Discovery Trail. Learn more and support the efforts through a donation here.

Jasper Discovery Trail Map

For a map and a guide, there’s a PDF guide that can be downloaded and printed from the Municipality of Jasper here (click on the Discovery Trail link).

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