In winter, Jasper National Park closes the Moab Lake Road and track-sets it for cross country skiing. The trail is as flat as it gets in the Rockies and is track-set for classic and groomed for skating. This is also the winter trail head for the Athabasca Pass trail, the mother of all fur trade portages.
It is a 2 km ski down Highway 93A to where you turn right on the Moab Lake Road, but keep your eyes open at 1.1 km for the Valley of the Crooked Trees. Not so much a valley as a step in the forest, the Valley of the Crooked Trees is on the right as you’re skiing down Highway 93A. If you don’t make it all the way to Moab Lake, at least ski the first 5 km to where the Moab Lake Road comes abreast of the Whirlpool River, it’s worth it. This trail is dog friendly.
The best map to take along is Parks Canada’s free Winter Trails brochure, which is the only current publication that shows cross-country skiing trails in the Jasper National Park. Yet, if a topo you must have, then take along Gemtrek’s 1:100000 “Jasper and Maligne Lake.” The Friends of Jasper www.friendsofjasper.com sell the map. Jasper National Park also posts a weekly cross-country ski report on the web during the winter months (http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/tcond/cond_e.asp?oPark=100244) .
The trail begins at the Meeting of the Waters parking lot 18 km south of Jasper. Drive 7 km south on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), turn right after the park gate and follow Hwy 93A for 11 km to the winter gate at the Meeting of the Water picnic area. Meeting of the Waters refers to the confluence of the Athabasca and Whirlpool rivers, an important land mark in the fur trading days. There are picnic tables, garbage can and privies at both ends of this trail. On the way to the trail head you’ll pass Whistler Campground Loop X-C Ski and Wabasso Loops X-C Ski trails.
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