Hardscrabble Pass

Trailhead Caribou Inn Camp is 25.3 km from the junction of the Blue Creek trail and the North Boundary Trail.
Distance 10.8 km (6.7 mi.)
Elevation Gain 518 m (1,700')
Maximum Elevation 2,256 m (7,400')

Hardscrabble Pass is, to be precise, located in Willmore Wilderness Park, just 1 km past the boundary with Jasper National Park. While it is often used as a route between the two parks, it can also be visited as a day trip from Caribou Inn Camp. From the campsite, the trail to the head of Blue Creek remains on the left (north) side and is fairly well-defined for the first 6 km until it crosses a tributary stream entering from the right (easy rock hop). Beyond that point, the country is fairly open and it is easy to find one's way to the shores of Azure Lake. This map (49 KB), based on a Parks Canada pdf brochure, shows the general location of the trail, but mistakenly indicates a crossing of Blue Creek.

Hardscrabble Pass is located in the obvious gap that lies above and to the northwest of Azure Lake. From the lake, there are several easy routes up grassy slopes toward the pass. Rather than aiming for the low point of the gap, it is easier to keep to the right, as indicated by the trail markings on the topographic map (Twintree Lake 83 E/6). The route crosses a set of terraces that form natural rock gardens. Views to the north are somewhat limited from the summit of the pass, but there are several small lakes in the vicinity that are fun to explore. On one trip, during the descent to Azure Lake, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a herd of 5 or 6 caribou grazing on the slopes. The sight of these or any other of the large animals in a remote alpine setting forms a memorable episode in the Canadian Rockies.

This page was modified on Dec. 9, 2001