A short, easy walk to the historic ruins of the original Miette Hot Springs bathhouse and the source of the springs themselves — the hottest in the Canadian Rockies!
So you’ve earned a solid lunch hiking up to the Sulphur Skyline. You’ve enjoyed a well-earned soak in the Miette Hot Springs. You probably think that’s all there is to do before you drive back to Jasper Townsite, right?
If you’re into history – or even if you just want to check out the source of the hot springs you’ve been enjoying in the bathhouse – be sure to take a quick side trip on this short but rewarding trail.
In the northwest corner of the parking lot, look for a short access road heading west, past the small picnic area. There’s a short decline and you’ll note some of the hot spring water following alongside the road here – nice and steamy if it’s cold outside.
If you’re an especially budget conscious hot springs connoisseur and don’t mind, say, an audience of people walking past you, there are also some very small pools you could conceivably sit in for a hot springs-like experience.
At the bottom of this short hill, this hot water meets up with the more voluminous waters of Sulphur Creek, which drains a large valley basin beyond the old hot springs grounds. The paved road continues alongside this creek and a board walk will take you up to the ruins of the hot springs’ original bathhouse.
The Miette Aquacourt was built in 1938 as part of a Depression-era worker relief program and was active until 1984. Before this was built, First Nations peoples used the area before white settlers and miners built a rough road to the location. Those settlers also constructed a log cabin bathhouse and sweat lodges.
Construction on this building began in 1934, accompanied by a paved road from the Yellowhead Highway. Rockslides in the narrow canyon spurred the closure of this facility and the construction of the more modern bathhouse that currently stands.
The old swimming pool has been filled in and trees have been planted inside, which I think is a pretty nice touch.
Beyond the pool, the trail continues along Sulphur Creek as a boardwalk.
Keep your eyes open for steaming water entering the stream from the side of its banks. You’ll pass three hot spring sources on this short path. The First is under the old Aquacourt. The Second is alongside Sulphur Creek and flows at 3.4 litres per second. The boardwalk crosses the Creek just before the Third spring, which flows at 7.5 litres per second.
Based on the temperature of the water emerging from these hot springs, scientists have estimated the water has risen from a depth of at least 1500 meters underground. Water seeps down from the mountains and filters through the ground until it reaches a system of faults, which funnel the now-hot water back up to the surface.
The temperature here at the Third Spring averages between 51-55 degrees celsius (that’s 123-131 degrees Fahrenheit, so you might want to resist the temptation to dip your hands in the water).
The trail continues past the Third Spring toward Utopia Mountain and deep into Fiddle Valley, but your journey ends here. Turn around and head back to the trailhead the way you came in.
Trail is mostly paved, easily graded, and simple to follow. Note that in inclement weather, the trail may be slippery.
Pocahontas Campground is a moderately sized established campground near the intersection of Miette Road and the Yellowhead Highway (AB-16). Campground is reservable online.
The Pocahontas Cabins are a privately owned collection of cabins that are also located nearby.
From Jasper, head northeast on the Yellowhead Highway (AB-16) toward Edmonton. In 40.6km, turn right at Miette Road and stay on this road for 16.9km until it ends at the Miette Hot Springs parking area. The trailhead is at the western end of the parking area. Miette Road is closed to traffic from November through April.