Trailhead: Nigel Pass is located near the Columbia Icefields, 108kms south of Jasper and approximately 109kms north of Lake Louise. Park at the Nigel Creek parking lot located approximately 15kms east of the Athabasca Glacier Ice Fields visitor Centre. Jasper National Park.
Description: Follow the old Banff – Jasper gravel road past an outfitters corral until you reach the wardens station. Stay left of the Wardens station on a well worn trail that leads down to Nigel Creek. Cross two wooden planked bridges over Nigel Creek then follow the right hand trail a short distance up towards old Camp Parker.
Camp Parker was used by early natives and the first explorers to this area. The tree carvings found here date back to and before 1940, when the original Banff-Jasper highway was built. Unfortunately the tree carvings have been defaced by others. I found it interesting to place my hand on this tree and imagine those who came before me a 100 years ago. Maybe Samson Beaver and Mary Schaffer did the same thing. From camp Parker, follow the trail leading north towards Nigel Pass as it slowly climbs through an old Engelmann spruce forest.
Nigel creek cascades over several short outcrops as you pass by. Once you enter the meadows you can see the Nigel Pass headwall directly in front of you. Hike the last 2.5kms up the headwall to the top of the pass.
The trail then drops down the other side towards Brazeau Lake and the Brazeau River valley. For better views hike up to the viewpoint on your left below Nigel Peak. This is a great spot to have your lunch. Views looking back towards the meadows, Parker Ridge, Mount Saskatchewan, and forward towards the Brazeau Valley are spectacular.
The slopes with slabs of rock to the northeast should be avoided. We witnessed a rock slide here (pictures below) while eating our lunch. It looks like rock slides are a frequent occurrence near the pass and one should not linger about while crossing. Nigel Pass is a popular backcountry destination. Expect to see horse outfitters with larger parties on this route. You are in bear country