Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park Day 3 – Wonder Pass

After 3 nights camping at Lake Magog it was time to pack up and hike out back to the car. There are 2 options for hiking south back to the Mt. Shark trailhead (1) Wonder Pass or (2) Assiniboine Pass. We chatted with several hikers who had hiked the area and they unanimously recommended Wonder Pass as the far more scenic route. It ended up not mattering as Assiniboine Pass was closed due to Grizzly Bear activity (bring bear spray in this area).

After packing up and eating breakfast we headed out with fully loaded packs towards Wonder Pass and on to McBride’s Campground. From Lake Magog it was a quick walk along the bluffs above the lake past the lodge and on to the Naisset Huts. The Huts are a nice option to stay in if available as they have wood stoves and are fully enclosed cabins. The huts can be loud but I bet they would be a great option for shoulder season hiking. From the Naisset Huts it’s a gradual climb up past beautiful Gog Lake and then up over Wonder Pass. The pass is more of a small valley right at treeline. We were on the lookout for Grizzly bears as they are a common sighting in the area.

After a nice lunch and snack at Wonder Pass we dropped over the divide and began the steep descent towards Marvel Lake.Marvel Lake is a striking glacial blue lake that made coming down the steep switchbacks a bit easier. After a few miles of steep switchbacks you end up maybe 500 feet above the lake.

marvel lake
marvel lake views
wildflowers along wonder pass

At this point our heavy packs were beginning to take a toll on our shoulders. The trail continues to descend the length of the lake until you drop into the trees and we lost sight of the lake. We made quick progress and pressed on to McBride’s Campground. We were too tired to keep up a lengthy conversation to alert the bears we were there so we utilized the power of iPhone to listen to multiple podcasts on this section of trail. The trail signs were very confusing as we approached the campground and we ended walking a mile beyond the camp before doubling back. The campground was a huge disappointment. We were spoiled for 3 nights in the well equipped provincial campgrounds. McBride was in Banff National Park and it lacked all the amenities of our previous campground (cooking shelter, clean bathrooms, and toilet paper).

We were starving upon arrival and out of water, thankfully the rangers staying just down the trail were able to point us to a close water source. The campground was nearly deserted with the exception of a few Canadians who were kind enough to feed us some hummus and vegetables while our dinner cooked (THANK YOU!). We quickly ate our dinner and fell asleep to get an early (for us) start the next day.

Distance: 8.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1100 feet

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