Parks Canada still getting winter trails ready

There is approximately 15 cm of snow on the ground and the coldest that Jasper has seen has already been below -30 C with the windchill taken into account.

This means winter, but it also means that the outdoor arena for all manner of winter activities is near ready.

That’s why Parks Canada has asked the public to be patient. The trails are still being prepared, the agency stated on Facebook.

“This first big snowfall has the Parks Canada team working hard to get the trails in Jasper National Park ready for winter use,” the post said.

People are asked to avoid using the trails at Whirlpool Winter Hub, Marmot Meadows Winter Hub, Pyramid Fire Road and Wabasso Campground prior to Dec. 15.

“This will help build a solid base required for a long grooming season. We cannot wait to welcome you back to these favourite flat packed and track set trails, but in the meantime, why not take this early season opportunity to stretch your legs by exploring other areas of the park.”

Exploring the great outdoors doesn’t preclude the necessity of ensuring that you are prepared for the challenge and the exposure to the elements. Jasper National Park’s weather can change dramatically and swiftly whether you’re on your feet or on the road toward your hiking destination.

Ryan Lemont, manager of driver education with the Alberta Motor Association, said that letting others know of your plans is one of the big keys to winter safety.

“Be safe, plan ahead, know your limits and stay within it too. It's letting somebody know that you're heading out. Stay within what you're familiar with and what your experience is… just to be safe at the end of the day.”

Parks Canada has a webpage for updates on trail conditions that can be found at parkscanada.gc.ca/jaspertrails

The page also thanks people for not walking, snowshoeing or biking on ski trails. It offers a link for other tips on trail etiquette and safety, which includes the notice that not all signed destinations are safe for winter travel.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh