The Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta

Brazeau Lake Campsite on the Brazeau Loop in Jasper
Bright blues and greens on the Brazeau Lake – walking along the beach of this lake is true bliss!

One of Jasper’s best kept secrets, the Brazeau Loop has almost everything you could ask for in a West Coast adventure: bright turquoise glacial lakes, expansive mountain ranges, marmot fleeting around shrubs above the treeline, old growth trees in the forests, bridges over rivers and creeks, plenty of deer, and an epic traverse over a mountain pass with incredible views on the other side.

Where: Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
When: May through September (snowy in May and chilly in September, but more people and bugs in the middle of the Summer)
Length: 81km, 4-6 days
Hiking Trip Base Cost: $10/day for Park Fees, $12/day for Backcountry Reservations, $10-infinity/day for food = ~$200 for a 5 day trip
Additional Variable Costs: fuel for your stove, any new camping gear, a car rental, a flight, accommodation outside the park, beer, etc.

As always, remember to respect the Earth in your adventures. Here’s an honest approach with actionable steps you can take to be an awesome person who is helpful and responsible: How To Leave No Trace. Do your research on the people, place, culture, and environment, and once you have a plan: tell it to someone!

The Brazeau Loop Itinerary and Route

Day 1: Nigel Pass Trailhead to Four Point, 14km

Drive to Nigel Pass Trailhead and park in the small parking lot where you will leave your car. From here, it is 14km to the Four Point campsite. You may choose to go just 11km to Boulder Creek, but this will make tomorrow significantly more difficult! Four Point sits on a river, which is a great place to enjoy dinner.

Four Point Campsite on the Brazeau Loop
Views on the river from the Four Point Campsite – a great spot for dinner!

Day 2: Four Point to Brazeau Lake, 20km

This is a long but easy and rewarding day, being mostly downhill and ending at the Brazeau Lake. You could stay at the Brazeau River campsite, however this is NOT recommended as the Brazeau Lake campsite is one of the best in the world. Try to get here as early as possible to spend as much time as you can exploring the empty rock beach along this glacial lake at the foot of the mountains. Stand in awe as you watch the lake feed endlessly into the river.

Brazeau Lake Campsite on the Brazeau Loop in Jasper NP
One of my all time favourite campsites: Brazeau Lake Campsite

Day 3: Brazeau Lake to Jonas Cutoff, 15km

A challenging day will take you over a mountain pass and end at Jonas Cutoff, a high elevation campground by a rushing creek with incredible views. Rest up tonight and load up before tackling Jonas Pass tomorrow morning.

Jonas Cutoff
Hiking through moody skies and light rain on the way to Jonas Cutoff

Day 4: Jonas Cutoff to Four Point, 18km

The day begins with a tricky scramble up over Jonas Pass. The trail is fairly easy to lose, but look for cairns that will help guide you. Once at the top, you will understand why it was worth it. The rest of the day rewards you with endless views as you walk through the valley between mountain ranges and a forest slowly regenerating after a fire years ago.

Towards Nigel Trailhead on the Brazeau Loop in Jasper National Park
Endless incredible views after the highest point section of the Brazeau Loop – Jasper is wonderful

Day 5: Four Point to Nigel Trailhead, 14km

End the Brazeau Loop the way you started, this time with significantly lighter packs and stronger bodies. This day will feel like a breeze compared to the prior two, so either soak it up and take your time or start early and be at the brewhouse by lunchtime with a burger and a beer!

Brazeau Loop in Jasper NP
More threatening clouds on our last day of the hike: an early start meant beating the bad weather

Roses n Thorns

Rose (the best part)

The Brazeau Lake campsite was, as previously mentioned, one of the most incredible campsites I’ve every stayed at. In true National Park fashion, it was clean and well outfitted. For a backcountry site, the amenities were incredible. A picnic table? As if! Bear bag hangers? NICE! That was all great, but what really made this memorable was the lake itself. Glacier blue, it sits at the foot of mountains. A combination of rocks and sand line its shore, and its mouth flows strongly into a river that is both exciting and peaceful at once. Photos will never do it justice, so you’d best get out there and see it for yourself.

Thorn (the worst or most hilarious part)

I had brought my DSLR camera to Jasper to capture its beauty, and had, after thoughtful consideration, decided to hike with it too. Though it adds a lot of weight to the pack, I knew it would be worth it. Before the hike, we were getting ready to head out in our rental car. I got in, we started driving, and turned onto the highway… there was then a sound of something heavy crashing to the ground behind us on the road. In the rearview mirror, my camera could be seen bouncing and stumbling down the road behind. In my absolute stupidity, I had left it on the roof of the car and not taken it down before driving off. By pure luck (and the robust durability of Nikon), all was intact except for the lens. Though I was able to take pictures, the zoom and autofocus were not functioning well (or at all). Alas, much work and much grief went into producing the few photos I managed to capture with my damaged piece of technology.

Bud (the new friend)

We started the hike 15 minutes after we saw a lone hiker leave the parking lot. Throughout, we would end up staying at 2 of the 4 same campsites, sharing stories along the way. A nearly 70 year old retired professor from the University of  Calgary, our new friend was on a solo quest to hike the Brazeau Loop. Though he had originally planned a BC trip with his wife, forest fires in the area turned their trip in another direction – his wife didn’t want to do the 4 nights on the trail, and he had committed to any trip at all, so off he went on his own. He was thoughtful and well-prepared, experienced and happy: he embodied everything I hope to be when I am 70 too.

Gear and Food List

Gear

The Brazeau Loop is a proper backpacking route that requires a cook set and sleeping kit. See my Gear for the Trail list for a decent list.

Food

Here are some ideas: Food on the Trail. In general, my days look like this…
Breakfast: hot oats on short days, cold granola with milk powder on long days
Lunch: snacks throughout the day including pepperoni sticks, tortillas, a LOT of peanut butter, granola bars, GORP, and dried fruit
Dinner: prepared dehydrated meals when I’m feeling fancy, or deluxe instant noodles/Sidekicks when I’m not

Make it Happen

  1. Understand the route and pick a time of year you want to go
  2. Choose your route/itinerary, and where you will stay each night so you can book your campsites: Parks Canada Backcountry Reservations
  3. Once that is locked in, book your flights and/or transportation to the park
    • If flying, fly into Calgary (YYC) and rent a car from the airport to drive to Jasper. The drive is much more scenic from Calgary vs. Edmonton and Nigel Trailhead is closer to Calgary
  4. If you’ll be in the park for 7 days or more, it will be cheaper to buy a Discovery Pass than pay daily park fees: Parks Canada Discovery Pass
  5. The fun begins! Plan your meals, get your gear in order, and start walking to work and taking the stairs to make your trip as fun as possible
  6. Get outside and do the thing
Brazeau Lake - a glacial paradise at the foothills of mountains
Bliss and serenity on Brazeau Lake

What’s the greatest campsite you’ve ever stayed at, and why? Sometimes it’s not the place or the scenery that makes it great, but rather the people and the circumstance. If you are lucky enough to spend some more time in Jasper, check out these 21 Awesome Things to do in Jasper. Taking it beyond, check out this 5-day itinerary for the Canadian Rockies for more outdoor awesomeness.

If you’re closer to the East Coast and are looking for an awesome backpacking trip in another one of Canada’s National Parks, check out The Fundy Circuit in New Bruswick!

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Hike the Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta for a backpacking route full of glacial lakes, alpine wildlife, a mountain pass, and classic Canadian Rocky Mountain scenery Hike the Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta for a backpacking route full of glacial lakes, alpine wildlife, a mountain pass, and classic Canadian Rocky Mountain scenery Hike the Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta for a backpacking route full of glacial lakes, alpine wildlife, a mountain pass, and classic Canadian Rocky Mountain scenery
Hike the Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Canada

57 Replies to “The Brazeau Loop in Jasper, Alberta

  1. That place looks breathtaking!! I haven’t been to Canada yet! I definitely plan to go there though can’t say I will be hiking 🙂 Yoir post is very informative, hopefully, ppl who plan to go there will utilize these good tips!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m from Canada, and I have hardly been able to explore myself :). Even if you’re not hiking, just being outside and embracing the environment is so awesome – especially when surrounded by mountains.

  2. Lovely place! It looks like a wonderful hike. I’ve been to Jasper a number of times, but I’ve never had enough time to hike! I’ll have to go at some point for sure!

    1. Love it! Ran into one family of five on the trail having a blast – all of the campsites have picnic tables as well, so they are great for communal meals and sharing conversations 🙂

  3. This looks sooo beautiful! I love hikes that end in a loop, there’s something really satisfying about them and it’s so much better than going back the same way. The campsites along here look absolutely stunning!!! I would love to wake up to some of those views! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Haha I completely agree – loops (and good ones at that) are hard to find but SO much nicer. No shuttling logistics either. These campsites were truly some of the best I’ve ever had. Thanks for reading!

  4. Wow! The photos look amazing! Once I get into better shape I’d like to make this hike and go swimming in Brazeau lake 🙂

  5. Fantastic! Nature is beautiful and reminds me so much of Norway. I really love northern nature and Canada has so many similarities to Scandinavia. Wanna get there one day.

  6. Beautiful! I love your photos. The landscapes and views are amazing! Looks like you had such a great time. The colour of the water in the lake is beautiful. Very relaxing…

  7. Love, love, love Jasper. I lived there for a little while years ago, and loved it. This article made me think that maybe it’s time to revisit this beautiful park. Brazeau Loop sounds like a perfect way to do that

    1. Ah I’d love to spend more quality time and can’t wait to go back – this was an awesome way to escape some crowds 🙂

  8. This looks amazing! I am planning a Canada trip but i think i will need to find toddler friendly trips, we would love a few nights camping and some beautiful views but i think this is proabably a step too far. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Very nice photos and informative post! I feel you regarding your Nikon, sea water ruined mine two months ago in Thailand so I couldn’t take any decent photos for at least one month! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Oh yes! I think Nikons are the best for landscapes. (You rarely hear it from Canon guy, heh). But yea, It is a bit nightmarish to carry all glass and DSLR in your bag on long hikes. I remember myself carrying all the stuff to Troll’s Tongue in Norway. y legs were almost dead in the end.

    1. It’s such a pain in the moment and then you’re so thankful when you get home and have these awesome moments to share. I have been thinking about making an investment into a mirrorless, but I can’t really justify the cost right now and there’s nothing wrong with my Nikon!

  11. i never knew there is a place called Jasper in Alberta. Sounds like a terrific place to spend a family vacation because of its water and mountain trails. Wish i could visit there someday

    1. Jasper National Park would totally be a great place for a vacation – there is so much to see and do for everyone! I hope you can visit one day too 🙂

  12. The tricky scramble up over Jonas Pass sounds worth it for those views! Omg I cannot believe your luck with your new camera! I am very happy that it still worked albeit the lens and zoom did not function properly. I have also damaged my camera somehow as the autofocus has seized to work and I have no idea why or how to fix it!

    1. Ahh I know I was super lucky with my camera for SURE. That totally sucks about your camera though… I wish I was a good enough photographer to be able to take photos properly without the autofocus, but I’m just not there yet. I did end up buying a prime lens that works properly that will be my main one, and I’ll use the damaged one on shorter hikes where I’m okay with carrying the extra weight. Hopefully you manage to fix yours as well!

  13. Brazeau Lake Campsite sounds amazing and you managed to get enough photos to prove it. This might date me a bit, but I took a film SLR camera with me backpacking the Grand Canyon. I went with all my high school friends and it was my father and my “one epic adventure” that we had before he died of cancer. (many years later). This is a trip that can never be replicated and will forever live in my memory. Anyway, about day 3 on the hike I wonder how many more exposures I had. I realized that I didn’t have any film loaded and have been taking all of my pictures with an empty camera. It’s easier to load film than pick up the broken pieces of your camera after it bounces off your roof, but now, twenty years later, I still have vivid mental images of the photographs that I didn’t actually take.

    Also, the first burger you get after backpacking has to be the best food ever.

    1. Geez that is an incredible story!! It’s so awesome how the experience of a trip can be so much more potent depending on who you are with and the context of the adventure. I think in a time where everything is seen through a screen, those mental images are that much more important. Those mental snapshots hold so much more information than a photograph could: smells, sounds, tastes, and touch can’t be captured on any film. Thanks so much for reading and sharing that with me – I am loving more and more how the stories we share bring people together in the most remarkable ways.

  14. I want to hike with Bud, he sounds like a great person to meet and must have some great stories. I love the break down of the prices you have done and the scenery is amazing. Very dramatic and I would love to visit and do the Brazeau Loop one day!

    1. Thank you! It was stunning: far more scenic that I ever could have imagined. I’d love to go back and do it again myself!

  15. I love staying in a camp near Osor on the island of Cres, Croatia. It is right next to the sea in the shades of tall pine trees, and the ammenities are great! But (from the camps I visited) only the one by lake Bohinj in Slovenia can live up to Brazeau lake campsite. 🙂 The views of the lake are amazing (both in Bohinj and on your photo). I love how you made friends with a retired professor, that’s what traveling is all about! Also, I think I would have had a meltdown if my camera broke on the trip! 🙂

    1. Lake Bohinj and Slovenia in general are at the very top of my Europe list – I can’t wait to spend a night there one day!! When I’m in Croatia I will totally look for that campsite. Tall trees make any site awesome. And yes, I totally agree – travelling is made whole by the people you meet along the way 🙂

  16. I’ve never heard about the Brazeau Loop and now I want to go! The bright turquoise glacial lakes and beautiful mountain ranges sound like a sight to see. Love that you made friends on your travels 🙂

    1. I hadn’t heard of it either until the trail I’d planned on doing was booked up. Having to make alternate plans let me discover something unique and awesome! It’s always nice to make friends on the road 🙂

  17. Another beautiful part of the world that leaves me with wanderlust. I’ve never gone hiking for more than 2 days and your post makes me want to try it. Sorry to hear about your Nikon. I’m also a Nikon user and I can’t go on an outdoor trip without it even if it means an added weight. I can’t imagine if that happened to me. I just can’t settle with a phone cam for a place as beautiful as Jasper.

    1. A longer hiking trip is awesome and I am so happy to hear you’re keen to try! It lets you get really into the groove of things, and makes the reward at the end so much greater. Indeed, it’s hard to do a place justice using any camera, but a phone camera would be extra bad!

  18. That’s inspirational. Not only is it beautiful, but the daily distances are completely achievable. And if it can be done by a 70 year-old, then this 54 year old is most definitely inspired to think about trips like this. The lakeside campsite is spectacular, and the views glorious. You mention a scramble over the pass on day 4. Is this something that would be tricky for someone very scared of heights? (Like me #blush) And I hope your camera is mending!

    1. Yes, the distances allow you to enjoy the incredible scenery and enough time for campsite naps :). The “scramble” on the 4th day was steep but totally doable. The trail isn’t quite as clear for about 15 minutes, but it’s obvious where the end point (or peak) is so it is not a concern. I wouldn’t be worried about the heights in the sense that there is adequate footing and space at the top, but it is quite a remarkable view of the other side!! Thank you so much for reading along – I appreciate your kind words!

  19. I have just found your website and am so happy I have! I am also an avid hiker and am spending the year exploring my own country (New Zealand for me). This looks like a fabulous hike with stunning views. One of the best things about hiking is the people you meet along the way. It sounds like Bud was a great addition to your trip. Amazing, still 70 and out there doing it!

    1. Thank you so much for checking it out – I just spent some time on your blog as well, and I LOVE the whole message. Little adventures are awesome and deserve to be recognized too. I spent over 6 months exploring your incredible and beautiful country, and I have to say it’s my favourite place I have ever been. Waiting for the day when I can return!

      Hiking and travelling is definitely about the people – they can completely change the experience!

  20. My cousin lives in Edmonton and he always has pictures up on FB of Jasper. It’s just beautiful. I’m not sure if he has visited Brazeau Lake and did the trail. I think 81km would take me more than 4-6 days 😂 You were very lucky that it was just the lenses of the camera that was damaged. I don’t know what I would have done if that had happened to me. You still captured the beauty of the area brilliantly. It’s amazing to see how blue the lake is 😊 I’m in awe of the gentleman you met along the way who was hiking in his 70s.

    1. Haha yes they are long days, but doable with some training I suppose!! I am VERY lucky it was just the lens – having to just replace the lens was a real lifesaver. Although you can do your best to capture it in a photo, the best is still being there in person for sure. I too am in awe of our friend in his 70s – a true inspiration!

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