The Great Divide Trail

This was written in 2013, after finishing the trip, since this date, the trail has regained popularity and it seems like some part are now maintained.

Through the least travel areas of Banf National Park - Julien Schroder
Through the least travel areas of Banf National Park – Julien Schroder

The Great Divide Trail (GDT) is a hiking trail following the Canadian Rockies and the Great Divide between Alberta and British Columbia in western Canada. It begins in Waterton Lakes National Park and ends in Kakwa Provincial Park and is 1200 km long. It is said to be the most eye-popping, jaw-dropping, challenging wilderness trail on Earth.
The GDT goes through five National Parks including Waterton Lakes, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper, and seven Provincial Parks including Akamina-Kishinena, Elk Lakes, Peter Lougheed, Height of the Rockies, Mount Assiniboine, Mount Robson and Kakwa. The route also passes four wilderness areas including Beehive Natural Area, Kananaskis Country, White Goat Wilderness and Willmore Wilderness Area and five forest districts including Castle, Bow/Crow, Cranbrook, Golden and Robson Valley.

Mount Assiniboine at sunrise - Julien Schroder
Mount Assiniboine at sunrise – Julien Schroder

The idea of a trail following the Rockies was born already in the 60s and in the 70s a few youngsters explored the area south from Banff and later started construction work of the trail. However little by little the project lost support and funding and the concept of GDT basically vanished. To this day Parks Canada hasn’t endorsed the route and since the trail isn’t officially recognized, it is not marked.

Since most of the route is not maintained, it is degrading every year under the influence of vegetation, floods and erosion. Summer 2013 was especially challenging because of a storm that hit southern Alberta and swept right over us. It left us dealing with flooding rivers, washed-out trails and bridges and high water levels, mainly in the area between Coleman and
Banff, making it even harder to complete the GDT for few hikers who try it every year. And since not many people do the whole hike, it means you are basically alone in the wilderness the whole time, except in the areas close to Banff and Jasper.

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