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Skyline Trail Rides

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New York City, New...
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Skyline Trail Rides

My husband & I are planning a trip to Banff/Lake Louis for the summer of 2011 & would like to experience ride by horseback into the back country. Frommers recommends Skyline Trails. Has anyone had any experience with this outfit. We are specifically interested in the 3 day trip. I am an experienced rider, my husband is a beginner but has ridden before.

seattle
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1. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

not familiar with Skyline. I normally stay at the Marmot and they promote Pyramid Riding stables as a good trail ride. I'm sure there are different companies but Pyramid is the one I'm most familiar with.

www.mpljasper.com/jasper/pyramid_riding.html

Jasper, Canada
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2. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

As far as I know, Pyramid offers only day trips (one hour, two hours etc.), not overnight trips. They operate out of their stables on Pyramid Bench, a couple of kilometres north of the town of Jasper, and have rides on various of the network of trails on the bench. Skyline Trail Rides is based out of stables on the other side of the Athabasca River valley, at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, where they operate day trips in the JPL, Lake Annette and Old Fort Point areas, as well as the overnight trips on the Skyline Trail. The Shovel Pass trail that goes up to join the Skyline Trail heads south from the Old Fort Point area, along the base of the Maligne Range, to Wabasso Lake, and then up to Shovel Pass and their overnight lodge there.

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3. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

I am thinkin of doing the 3 day ride as part of a trip to Canda with my 2 children this summer - does anyone know how demanding this trail is and what sort of ridin experience would be needed?

Jasper, Canada
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4. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

The trail rides in the Rockies are done with a line of horses, usually pretty much nose to tail; in the case of the overnight rides, some of the horses in the line are packhorses, carrying gear instead of people. Similar to the one or two hour rides, I don't think they require any prior experience with riding, but I guess where conditioning comes in is how comfortable your legs and butt will be, during and after the hours in the saddle... three days in a row. (I note their website says it's four hours per day... and also mentions minimum age 10 for kids.) I have friends who have no riding experience who have done similar multi-day backcountry horse trips.

The trail up to Shovel Pass Lodge is a fairly strenuous trail for hiking (with lots of elevation gain), but the horses will be doing all that work for you. A lot of it is uphill through forest with limited views. I have hiked up to about halfway as a day hike; the trail goes first to Wabasso Lake, a pleasant lake in the forest; then through more mixed forest (aspen, pine) for a kilometre or two; there are some interesting rock formations and it's especially pleasant on a sunny day. Then it crosses a ravine/drainage gully that is really interesting - it must be an very active avalanche track, because you can see evidence of damage and devastation up six and eight feet on some of the massive cottonwoods there. There is a stopping spot (lunch?) just above the gully, with great views, and then the ascent up through pine/spruce/fir forest begins in earnest. This part is not that scenic.

As I said, I haven't hiked all the way up to the lodge, but I would imagine that as you get up higher near tree line, the forest opens up a bit and there would be some views. The trail is not considered much of a hiking trail - for hikers, its value is as a quick escape route down from the Skyline Trail when the the weather gets bad. (Patton and Robinson's The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide description of this trail opens with "Only the most masochistic backpackers in the world will want to hike to the Skyline Trail using the Wabasso Lake trail.") Horse trails are generally not popular with hikers anyway (mud, ruts, and bugs).

The really scenic day of the three-day trip will be the second day, when you will ride on the Skyline Trail - my guess would be that they will take you north, to Shovel Pass. The other direction from the lodge is up over "the Notch" to the Skyline portion of the trail - I don't know if they take horses up there or not (I'm guessing not.) It is the most scenic part of the trail, but the ascent and descent from the cabins to the Notch is a very long and very steep hill. (If you had an extra day at the lodge, you could hike it.)

I would suggest contacting Skyline Trail Rides with your questions.

If you and your children are all very fit, it would also be possible to hike the Skyline trail, from Maligne Lake to Maligne Canyon, staying overnight at the Skyline Lodge cabins (they also accommodate hikers, and you can have your gear ferried in by horse, so you are hiking only with day packs). The entire hike is 44 km, up and down three passes, so each day is definitely long'ish. This is one of those trips that is on my "wish list" for "someday"... when I am a bit older and no longer want to backpack the trail with a heavy pack (which is most comfortably done as a three day/two night trip.)

Cambridge, United...
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5. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

Hi

Thanks for that post - really helpful to get a feel of what is involved

Thanks again

6. Re: Skyline Trail Rides

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