The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by authors Brian Patton and Bart Robinson is passing its 50-year milestone with the release of its 10th edition.
First published by Summerthought Publishing back in 1971, the guide offers a comprehensive guide to backpacking and hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies, including areas in Waterton Lakes National Park and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
The book includes comprehensive guides maintained by the authors, along with a modernized layout including 3D topographical data to better illustrate the regions and trails. The book has been accurately measured by Patton and Robinson, who originally hiked every trail over the span of 15 years with a handmade “trail wheel” made from a bicycle tire.
Patton, who had originally planned on doing a trail guide to Banff, met with Robinson by chance and decided to instead work together and create a guide for the whole Canadian Rockies. Patton said “Parks Canada would just highlight the most popular trails in their handouts and things like that. So the idea was that we could maybe spread that out by doing a more comprehensive guide that would give people a look at all the trails that existed in the Rockies. And so that’s sort of our how that came about.”
The journey of the Guide over the years has given Patton many lifelong experiences, along with a chance to name a trail.
“Parks Canada was kind of forced into describing and maintaining trails that they might not have maintained otherwise, because we put them into the trail guide. One of them was the Sawback Trail up here in Banff. There wasn’t many long-distance trails that people could get to easily in Banff. And so, in the second edition of the trail guide, I wrote up this trail that was an old warden patrol trail and I wrote that up and I called it.”
For experienced and new explorers, the Guide is a great way to explore the Canadian Rockies with over 270,000 copies sold. It includes 277 hikes for all levels of experience and is constantly being updated by authors and community members online.
“I can still remember one moment coming out from Mount Assiniboine, pushing the trail wheel out, and I had this little epiphany moment that I thought, do I need to measure this again? This is the fourth time I’ve measured the Bryant Creek Trail into Mount Assiniboine. And it always comes out the same distance.”
The accuracy and dedication are what has made the Guide Canada’s longest running hiking guide and the best-selling non-fiction book in Canadian publishing history.
For those looking to purchase a copy they can find it at canadianrockiestrailguide.com.
For Patton writing the Guide has been a great experience, giving him dozens of memories to share through experience and readership.
Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald