Hike to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

Columbia Icefields Center

Get up close to one of the six toes of the Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca Glacier, without having to sign up for a tour.

This short hike is a must-do if you are driving up the Icefields Parkway and don't have the time or funds to take one of the tours that goes onto the glacier. Standing in front of such a massive sheet of ice, is a humbling experience.  

The trail head has a large dirt lot just across the road from the Columbia Icefields Center, and is well marked. You will begin on a short, gradual slope up up loose gravel, so be sure to wear the appropriate footwear. There is one section that is a little steeper, but just take your time with it and you'll be fine. The end of the trail is marked by a rope, as this the furthest visitors are permitted to go without a guided tour. Take a few photos, remember to budget more time to explore for next time, then head back to your car.  

Pack List

  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Warm Clothes
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RT Distance 1.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 165 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby


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Overall rating: 


This place can get busy during the day, I recommend going there for a sunrise when everyone is pretty much sleeping and the area is still so quiet. It is a beautiful spot, its just so terrible that the glacier is receding so quickly.

Nothing Makes you appreciate a receeding glacier like Glaciers

Endless buses, screaming and shouting, rumbling engines.... just about the furthest thing from a wilderness setting one could hope. It's a circus, and definitely not worth seeing where there are hundreds of places to get the same view if you don't mind leaving your vehicle behind.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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