Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park: Sunshine Village to Mount Shark (3 days / 60 km)

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, named after the iconic Mount Assiniboine, is located in British Columbia close to the Alberta Border. Mount Assiniboine, at an elevation of 3,618 metres, is the highest peak in the Southern Continental Ranges of the Canadian Rockies. 

This trail takes you past towering mountains, shimmering lakes, immense glaciers and alpine meadows. This 3-5 day backpacking trip is considered one of the most scenic and fantastic hikes in Alberta and British Columbia. 

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Sunshine Village Parking Lot

Ending Point: Mount Shark Parking Lot

Total Distance: 55.5 km

Elevation Gain: 1,906 m

Duration: 3 days (also a 4 day option)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Location

This route is located in Assiniboine Provincial Park and Banff National Park. The nearest town is Banff in Alberta and

Traditional Territory:

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: Assiniboine Lodge

Map: All Trails – Sunshine Village to Mount Shark – With the premium feature, you can download the topographic maps to your phone.

Campsite permits: Campsite reservations are required and can be made through BC Parks. The trail is very busy, so it’s important to make your reservations as soon as they open for the season (which is two months before your travel dates).

Outfitters & Shuttles

As this route starts at Sunshine Village and ends at Mount Shark, we had to do a self-shuttle. Thankfully we had a friend living in the area who could help us get our vehicle to Mount Shark and then drive us to Sunshine Village. You can also do a self-shuttle if you have more than one vehicle; the drive between Sunshine Village and Mount Shark is about 1 h 45 min.

At the start of your hike, you can take the Sunshine Gondola to save 5 km and some elevation gain. 

We took a helicopter from Assiniboine Lodge (located at Lake Magog) to Mount Shark, rather than hiking the final ~26 km. The helicopter is run by Alpine Helicopters, from either: 

  • Assiniboine Lodge to Mount Shark or vice versa
  • Assiniboine Lodge to Canmore or vice versa

Trip Report

Day 1: Sunshine Village to Porcupine Campground (15.3 km)

We started the day by taking the Sunshine Gondola to the Village. You can also hike up, but taking the Gondola saves you 5 km and some vertical! We then followed the signs on the very apparent trail. 

From Sunshine to Citadel Pass it is 1.3 km. You stay in Citadel Pass for 8 km, which crosses Howard Douglas Lake at around 4.5 km. When you come to Citadel Peak, follow the marker to the Porcupine campground, another 4.3 km. Porcupine Campground is free and on a first come first serve basis (you are not able to make reservations). There are bear boxes available to campers. We arrived around 2 pm and were the first to arrive. 

Campsite: Porcupine Campground

Day 2: Porcupine Campground to Magog Lake (16.7 km)

This is the harder section of the trail. You pass through the Valley of the Rocks on your way to Og Lake, which is about 5.7 km from Porcupine Campground. When you see the peak of Mount Assiniboine coming out of Rock Valley, you are almost at Og Lake! Then Magog is an extra 7 km from Og Lake. 

There is a stream near Porcupine that you should get water from before you leave, as you are in the open for most of the day and there are no other convenient spots to get water.

Campsite: Magog Campground 

Day 3: Magog – Mount Shark OR Magog – Bryan Creek

We took the helicopter out! It was a gorgeous ride out and totally worth it! However, if you’re not wanting to spend the money and hike out, people typically go from Magog Lake to Mount Shark via Bryan Creek, adding one additional day to the trip. There are two options to hike from Magog Lake to Bryan Creek:

Option 1: Wonder Pass – Wonder Pass is a beautiful hike that brings you past the stunning blue lakes, Lake Gloria and Marvel Lake. It is a steep 13 km that continues through the great divide. 

Option 2: Assiniboine Pass to Bryan Creek Trail – This option is not nearly as scenic but easier if you are going into Assiniboine area from Mt. Shark. 

Once at Bryan Creek, you have the option to camp at either McBride’s BR14 Campground or Marvel Lake BR13 Campground.

Campsite: McBride’s Campground BR14 or  Marvel Lake BR13 Campground

Day 4: Brayn Creek to Mt Shark (13.5 km)

Our trip was only three days, however, if you chose to hike out rather than taking the helicopter, this would be the final day of your trip. And the easiest day is the final day. The last 13.5km is in the trees and not as scenic but keep an eye open for wildlife.

Reflections

This is an amazing trail. It is a great trail for an experienced hiker but a first-time backpacker. I would highly recommend spending a few days at Magog or Og lake as there are so many additional day hikes in the area, such as the famous Nub hike. We did it for sunrise and it was gorgeous. (photos attached)

Sunshine out to Mount Shark is the easiest way to do this trail. However, I highly recommend taking the helicopter as it is such an amazing experience! Take your time and enjoy the views as they are so gorgeous.

Make sure you have bear spray with you at ALL times as this entire trail is major bear country. Make sure it is also somewhere accessible so if you do see one you aren’t fiddling around with your backpack. Make sure to educate yourself on bear encounters and how to use the bear spray before heading out on this trip. 

A great time to do this hike, if you’re willing to brave the colder nights, is at the end of September/beginning of October for the larches. Assiniboine Provincial Park has lots of larches adding that extra pop of colour in the fall. 

Magog and Og campsite book very fast so I highly recommend trying to book the day the reservations open, make sure you are flexible with your dates! 

Gallery


Author Bio

Previously from Ontario, Sarah now calls the Canadian Rockies home. She has a background in Content Creation and Social Media Marketing. When she’s not hiding behind her phone or laptop you can find her out running on trails, hiking in the backcountry or getting some turns in on her skis!

Website: Adventuring Sarah

Facebook: @adventuringsarah

Instagram: @adventuringsarah