Trail Cafe: Trip report - Hiking Coronet Creek at the end of Maligne Lake


Title: Hiking Coronet Creek at the end of Maligne Lake
Trip type: hiking
Summary: Most of the Hike follows the Coronet creek, not quite from Magline Lake up through the tree line along its valley to the base of the falls from the upper glacier. Aprox 400-500 m gain (Estimate, verify on topo map). This is a maintained trail, but not super heavily used, and a bit of trail finding is required at points, although you would be hard pressed to get lost.
Author: M. Tanton
Date of Trip: July 7, 2015
Country: CA
Province: Alberta
County/City/national park/etc: Jasper National Park
Location Route: Coronet Creek
Distance: 20km (estimate)
Elevation Gain: 500m (estmiate)
Weather Conditions:good
Directions to Set in or Trail head: Coronet Creek Campground - need to paddle to the end of Maligne lake
Partners: A young couple from the campsite.
Author's Experience level: Experinced
Authors Trip Rating: good
Trip's Good Points: Remote trail, stream, glacier
Trip's Bad Points: Can not drive to trail head.
Author's Email: myrlmungeattrailcafedotcom (remove 'munge', convert 'at' and 'dot' accordingly

Trail Description:

Weather: Warm at start cool on top hot on return, Mostly sunny cloudy.

This trip occurred just prior to Maligne lake burning down to at least some degree in a forest fire. In fact we cut our trip one day short, and would have seen the fire the following day. If we were a few days later, we would have been flown out of the lake, as the fire started/burned on the single road used for accessing the lake.

So we had an amazing bit of luck in that we got to see the lake in all its glory, where as it may be a year or two before it is back to what it was (assuming not to much tree kill). TODO: should check to see how much damage was actually done... the lake itself may be just fine

Anyways, this hike starts off at Coronet Creek campsite, at the end of Maligne lake. There is no easy drive to get to this campsite. The Southern half of Maligne lake is a "no power boat" stretch of lake, so you either hike out here (21 km of bush whacking, last I heard there is no trail), or paddle a boat. You also have to book the campsites on the lake, and should do so months in advance if you want to use them on the weekend. I believe it is typical to book a night or two at fisherman's bay to cut the time paddeling down to roughly half.

We came out in three kayaks and three people in our group, however for this hike I went with the (only) other two people we were sharing the camp site with, as my pod mates were not interested.

The Hike begins with a handy sign pointing the hiker to proceed through the back of the campsite towards the creek for which the campsite is named. It starts with a flat walk through the somewhat sparse trees, which eventually opens up with a glimpse of Maligne lake in the distance and the creek flowing towards it. The trail however is not going towards the lake, instead you turn you back on the lake and start to head around between Mt. Mary Vaux on the West side of the valley and Mt Warren on the East (which becomes Mount Brazeau further up the valley). Initially the best views are back the way we came.

View towards lake after coming out of the trees
View towards lake after coming out of the trees
The trail is well maintained and very obvious at the start which is flat and easy, although soon it is taking you up away from the creek a bit as the creek runs through a really small, but steep sided canyon. After that the trail alternates between running along the side of the hill a short distance from the creek, and running along the creek bed itself. You will clamber up and down the creek bank several times. At times the trail transitions from a trail, to more of a route consisting of braided trails, especially along the creek where it gets washed out. The trail is (I'm pretty sure) on the East side of the creek, although we did in fact lose the trail from time to time, even when it should have been obvious in the trees. I suspect we missed the points where we should have gone from the creek to the trees, which will change based on water level. Perhaps the spring floods have washed out the older portions of the trail

Shot of the trail section through the trees
Shot of the trail section through the trees
The forest is standard fare for the Alberta Rockies in the Jasper area, that is a mixed spruce and pine forest in this case mostly spruce, with scraggly deciduous trees along the creek and at the edges of the larger forests.

Getting close to the Henry McLeod camp site
Getting close to the Henry McLeod camp site
Levels off through sparsely treed section with lots of flowers just prior to the Henry MacLeod back country campsite. The site is equipped with a fire pit/box and a beautiful setting, and not much else. it is 8km from the trail head, and definitely a camping option. However you can only book the Coronet campsite for 2 days at a time, I assume you are allowed to leave your boats there for longer than that.

Continue on for anther 2 km or so

The trail (at least the one we took) eventually follows the creek, which is not becoming much more braided, we jump across the creek a few times. it always seems to be just wide enough that you are not quite going to make it across. At one point we had to double back a bit to find a crossing.

The Glaciers and skree fields of Coronet Mountain.
The Glaciers and skree fields of Coronet Mountain.
Walking along the widened creek bed does allow for better views looking up and down the valley. Slowly the trees get fewer and smaller, in part due to elevation but in part as we are walling up the tailings of the glacier that used to be here. The last leg of our trail turns from South to West, and becomes a rolling hills of gravel/rocks that the steam has pushed its way though. Interestingly the stream seems to have more water at the surface here than in sections further down stream. Moving across the stream is fairly difficult.

More rocks than you can point a stick at, if you could find a stick.
More rocks than you can point a stick at, if you could find a stick.

The glaciers here are not yet gone, there are still remnants up on the slopes

higher up on Coronet Mountain. Coronet creek being one of the many glacier fed creeks flowing into Malign lake. The main tributary cascading down a long water fall. It is at the base of the scree slope that we turn back the way we came. The scree slope itself is fairly steep, and it is cool in in the shade with the icy mist coming off the falls.

Looking back to see Mt Brazeau, and Mt.Warren
Looking back to see Mt Brazeau, and Mt.Warren

The walk back is on the same route (but not necessarily trail) as the way in. For us at least once we spent 10-15 minutes bushwhacking up higher on the hill than when we came in. the trail really seemed to go up there and disappeared.

While coming back down, on a route where there was not much of a trail at all, you find evidence of past campers, an old fire ring. Got to wonder how old it is, a few years at least as small trees are growing in it. The trees close by are 10-20 yrs old. If the trees were not here this this would have been a nice camp site. right now there is little room to sit around the fire.

While off trail we also came across this grouse and chicks.

Once back on the actual trail, the walk back was as per the walk out, as always easier going down hill, but doing so tired.



View towards lake after coming out of the trees


The view looking back at Mt. Paul


One of the sections through the trees.


Bit of a cascade


looking upwards and to the west


small canyon.


Stream is flattening out again.


Looking back the way we came


Dry wash out while walking through the trees.


A not so dry creek bed, flowing down from Mt. Warren to the East.


Shot of the trail section through the trees


Looking back again


Looking forward from the same point as the last picture


Nice flat easy walking here.


Away from the stream for a bit.


Getting close to the Henry McLeod camp site


Looking forward


Panorama shot.


The Glaciers and skree fields of Coronet Mountain.


the path is washed out here... time to make the jump to the other side. (he made it)




Starting to turn the corner.


Me and Coronet Mtn, Glaciers, and the source of the stream coming off them


Coronet, glaciers, and cascading water fall.


Nice valley, we've walked past all the rock you see in this picture.


cascading creek


More rocks than you can point a stick at, if you could find a stick.


slightly stuck?


Looking up the cascade


As far as I got.


Looking back to see Mt Brazeau, and Mt.Warren


old fire ring, complete with small tree growing in it.


small trail in woods


Camp Henry McLeod.


another shot of the trail near Henry McLeod campsite


well defined trail through the trees - 4 or so km from our camp.


mind your step.


hey Friends!


Mt. Paul.


View from camp (the trail head)

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