From Mount Assiniboine, ‘Matterhorn of the Rockies’, vast alpine meadows stretch far to the north interspersed with forested valleys and rocky peaks. It’s a world-famous hiking area which we look forward to sharing with you!
This hike is designed specifically for hikers and backpackers who want to avoid more difficult itineraries whilst still preserving a true backcountry experience. We start with a day and a half in the core area around the base of Mount Assiniboine before heading out on a three-day backpack trip to Sunshine Meadows.
From the vast park-like Assiniboine Meadows we drop into the eerie rockscape of the aptly named “Valley of the Rocks”. From here we climb to Citadel Pass and back to beautiful meadows which will lead us to the trip’s conclusion at Sunshine Village.
Join us in July and August when the alpine wildflowers are in full bloom or in September when the fall begins by tinting meadows and larches yellow and red in summer’s final explosion of colour!
If great scenery, healthy exercise and good company sound like a great holiday then come and join us for an unforgettable mountain experience.
Day 1: Fly to Mount Assiniboine
At 8.00 am we meet at the Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office in Canmore. We’ll go over the trip with you and check to see that you are properly outfitted before packing and heading to the helipad for 10.30 am.
Twenty-eight kilometres and a twelve-minute helicopter flight leaves us a world away in a land of lush meadows, turquoise lakes, snow-covered glaciers and rocky peaks. We fly from Spray Lakes in Kananaskis Country (50km south of Canmore) to British Columbia’s Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, landing right beside the historic Assiniboine Lodge. We will be based at the Lake Magog camping area which is 2km away. Once we have set up our tents we are free to go for a walk to nearby Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes. Their names give a testament to their beauty.
Day 2: Day hike in the Assiniboine area
There are many options … the meadows and views are gorgeous. An enjoyable day which allows us to gradually acclimatize to the altitude and get used to hiking. We can finish off with tea and cake at the Lodge.
Day 3: Magog to Porcupine
Now the backpacking begins and we embark upon the most scenic hiking route out of Assiniboine, to Sunshine Meadows via Citadel Pass. Today we head south across the meadows to Og Lake from where the trail descends among the eerie formations of the Valley of the Rocks. Dropping further we enter the Golden Valley to reach our campsite below Citadel Pass for a welcome cup of tea. Distance 16km, elevation gain 250m, elevation loss 565m.
Day 4: Porcupine to Howard Douglas Lake
A steady climb of 430m brings us to the summit of Citadel Pass. Hiking upwards we may be distracted by bighorn sheep at a “mineral lick” not 200m from the trail or by the profusion of wildflowers in the slide paths. Halfway to Citadel Pass we emerge back into the meadows and stop above an alpine lake for a break. Soon after we will be able to see far across the meadows to Sunshine Village, tomorrow’s destination. Behind us rises Mount Assiniboine, still dominating the skyline. We continue for another 3.5km to our campsite which is nestled in the trees by Howard Douglas Lake. An optional hike up Quartz Hill provides views in all directions and will finish the day off nicely. Distance 7.5km, elevation gain 500m.
Day 5: The last leg of our journey takes us 6km across the famous Sunshine Meadows to the Sunshine Village ski area and an optional side trip to Rock Isle Lake. It’s all downhill from here with a shuttle bus to the valley floor where transport to Canmore awaits. Distance 6km, elevation gain 250m, elevation loss 400m.
Meeting Place and Time
We will meet you at our Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office at 8.00 am on the morning of Day 1.
Our office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
For your greater convenience, we offer a pre-meeting shuttle service within Canmore. Please let us know in advance where you will be staying if needing this service. Pickup will occur between 7.30 and 7.50 am.
Please ensure that you have your hiking equipment with you.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventure guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our professional guides have extensive experience in the Canadian Rockies. Guides also have advanced wilderness first aid training and heritage interpretation accreditation. Guides carry emergency equipment including a first aid kit, bear spray and radio.
There will be a maximum of eight guests and a minimum of three.
Accommodation and Meals
On the trail you will be staying in modern, lightweight 2- and 3-person weather-proof tents.
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff, including campsites, hostels, all levels of hotels as well as condo style accommodation with kitchens or suites. We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
Yamnuska guests receive exclusive rates with Clique Hotels & resorts upon booking an adventure with either Yamnuska Mountain Adventures or Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska. (Please note that some rates are non-refundable)
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
We supply all meals and trail snacks from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5. Groups generally go out for dinner in Canmore on the final evening (own cost).
Trail cuisine is prepared from lightweight wholesome ingredients including our Yamnuska custom-made dehydrated dinners. For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, nut-free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests, there will be a $17/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $26/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions, a $31/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Getting to Canmore and Transportation
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west) and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore, we will supply all the transport needed for the trip.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. Banff Airporter is the best way to get between Calgary Airport and Canmore/Banff. When you book with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures you will receive a 15% discount on Banff Airporter Scheduled Services.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group camping and cooking equipment, as well as an emergency communication device, trip food, bear spray, water purification equipment and a full expedition emergency first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal backpacking equipment and clothing. When purchasing gear consider both functionality as well as weight. Lightweight packs, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and clothing are readily available and will lighten your load substantially.
What you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please take the time to read the information below, and cross-check with our Traveling Light and Making Backpacking Fun. The list below will keep you very comfortable in the field. Make sure you have all your clothing and gear before you arrive, and reserve any rentals with us in advance. Your guide will go through your clothing and gear with you prior to the trip.
When hiking in the mountains, it is important to be able to adjust to the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
You will need to bring:
- Wool or fleece hat/toque
- Sunhat – Wide brim or baseball style
- Long underwear top and bottoms – Lightweight synthetic or merino wool
- Socks – Preferably a synthetic/merino wool blend. Bring at least three pairs.
- Light Synthetic Shirt
- Jacket – A midweight synthetic
- Insulated Jacket – synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof / Breathable Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants – Also waterproof/breathable. Ideally with side zips, so they can be put on without taking off your boots.
- Hiking Pants – Preferably windproof and quick drying. No blue jeans or cotton pants.
- Light Gloves / Mitts
- Light Footwear – Crocs, Tevas, or running shoes for the occasional creek crossing and use around camp.
You will need to bring:
- Boots – Spend some time walking around in your boots before you arrive for your trip and get used to how they feel. They should have good ankle support and tread, with sturdy soles. Your boots will make or break your holiday so some time getting used to them is time well spent. Ensure they have been waterproofed or have a good waterproof liner material.
- Gaiters – Recommended early & late season. Really help to keep feet dry, keep socks and pants clean from mud and keep debris out of your boots.
- Large Backpack – This should be between 55 and 75 Liter capacity depending on the bulk of your personal gear and length of the trip. In it, you will carry your clothing, sleeping bag and mat, plus your share of group camping gear and food which is typically an extra 10 – 20 litres of space. Lightweight packs with good suspension are recommended. If bringing an additional day pack, this should be very light and compressible in order to fit inside the bigger pack on the approach hike.
- Pack Cover – This should be waterproof and large enough to cover the outside of your pack to keep the contents dry in a rainstorm. You can also line the inside of your stuff sacks with plastic bags to keep gear dry.
- Sleeping Bag – We recommend a ‘3 season’ bag rated 0ºC to –6ºC as temperatures can drop to below freezing at night. Make sure you bring a stuff sac lined with a plastic garbage bag that will reduce your bag to its minimum size (i.e. one with compression straps). This will provide enough space in your pack for everything else. A down bag will be lighter and more compressible for the weight than a synthetic bag.
- Sleeping Mat – Lightweight “Therm-a-rest” mats are recommended (Not Required on Wapta Ice Hike and Lake O’Hara Hiking Tour).
- Pillow – A small, compressible pillow or a spare stuff sack into which you can stuff extra clothes to create a pillow.
- Trekking Poles – Must be collapsible.
- Sunglasses – With 100% UV protection and a hard case.
- Headlamp – With fresh batteries
- Water Bottle / Bladder – 1-2 litre capacity.
- Blister Kit – Moleskin, Second Skin, etc.
- Personal First Aid Kit – Our guide carries a group first aid kit so keep this small. Band-Aids, Tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.
- Sun Block & Lip Balm – Extra strength with UV protection.
- Eating Utensils – Bowls, sporks, a large mug, light pocket knife, etc. (Not required on the Lake O’Hara Hiking Tour)
- Personal Toiletries including hand sanitizer– Keep to a minimum with no scented items.
- Insect repellent
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit CDN (including GST) is required at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.
For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for a waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
There may be a charge for rescue/evacuation from Assiniboine Provincial Park. It is advisable to check if your personal health insurance covers you for this potential cost.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
$1695 CDN Includes the guide, out-trip meals, Park ‘Wilderness Pass’, group camping gear, helicopter flight and local transfers.
Not included: Canmore accommodation, Gratuities for guides & 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
How difficult is it?
How fit and experienced need you be?
This trip is rated moderate. Backpack weights are moderate, on the 1st day the group will be carrying the heaviest loads, food and gear for the entire trip but only for 2km of flat trail. Day 2 will require daypacks only. On the backpack portion (last 3 days) participants will be carrying personal clothing and gear plus a fair share of food and group gear (tents, stoves etc). By keeping personal gear light, pack weights need not exceed 14kg (32lbs) on the 1st backpacking day, thereafter weights drop. Please read our Traveling Light & Making Backpacking More Fun for information and suggestions on clothing and equipment.
Prior hiking experience is not a prerequisite but is recommended. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to carry a backpack over hilly terrain for three days.
The trails are generally good. We will hike a regular and steady pace that conserves energy but you must be in as good as possible hiking shape before you come. We cannot emphasize enough that training pays great dividends in enjoyment. We suggest you train by hiking or walking in hilly terrain with weight on your back (use flights of stairs if in the city). We will stay as a group while hiking.
- The “Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies”
- The sixth highest peak in the Canadian Rockies
- 11,870 feet
- “Assiniboine” is a Chippewa phrase meaning “stone boilers” or “people who cook with hot stones.”