Athabasca Island

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Athabasca Island by Canoe

Summary:

This is a charming campsite on a small island along a beautiful Grade I stretch of the Athabasca River.

During periods of low water, the island is attached to the mainland, and one can explore the dry channels surrounding the island. Wildlife, including deer, elk, moose, coyotes, wolves and bears, are often seen in the area. The island is sandy and boast a wide beach, especially during low water.
Distance      It is a 3.5 km paddle from 12 mile bridge or 22.3 km paddle from Old Fort Point to Athabasca Island. It's a 4km paddle to takeout at Highway 16 and Jasper Lake.
Time to Expect      Allow 2-3 days to fully enjoy the Athabasca Island trip and backcountry camping.
Athabasca Island trip is not recommended for novice paddlers.

Getting There
Paddlers can launch from Old Fort Point near Jasper, the launch just before Sixth Bridge on the Maligne Road, or the Highway 16 bridge (12-Mile bridge)across the Athabasca River north of Jasper. From the latter bridge, it is 3.5 km to the campground. One km below the campground, the river opens up into Jasper Lake. Paddlers can take out along Jasper Lake where Highway 16 parallels the lake.



The Trip - Need to Know
The water of the Athabasca River is very cold, even in mid-summer. The water temperature is generally below 10 degrees C. While this section of the river is graded as Grade 1, there are some tight curves with potential sweepers and strainers. Moreover, Jasper Lake is often very shallow with many sandbars. It can be difficult to navigate across, as the main channel zig-zags across the lake, and is often difficult to see, especially from a canoe. Many canoeists have capsized on the lake when they ran aground on sandbars. Paddlers should have intermediate paddling skills and be familiar with river travel. This trip is not recommended for novice paddlers.

Athabasca Island Campground Access
Athabasca Island campground is marked with a large brown camping sign. The best place to land is on the beach at the downstream end of the island. Drag your canoes or kayaks well off the beach, in case the river rises during the night. There are 2 campsites that include a fire pit and picnic table.

Athabasca Island Backcountry Camping Permits
A backcountry camping permit is mandatory for all overnight trips and can be obtained online at reservations.pc.gc.ca or by calling 1877-737-3783.



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