The Fiddle Valley is a special place to reconnect with nature and it has long been one of Alberta’s best kept secrets. Located in the high alpine of Jasper National Park, the valley is home to unique hiking trails, abundant wildlife, scenic picnic spots and last but certainly not least, the Miette Hot Springs. Famed for being the hottest natural mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies, the water is so hot that it has to be cooled to an average temperature of 40°C (104°F) before it’s safe to have a soak. Trust me, though, you’ll want to do this more than once.
Hot Springs or Hike?
After a 17 km (10.5 mi) scenic drive along the winding Miette road – where we spotted a black bear and two cubs – we pulled into the parking lot for the springs. The entrance to Miette Hot Springs is on the far side, but we made up our minds to hike first today. A quick toss of the coin will decide which trail we take: the moderate trail to Utopia Pass or the steep but so worth it hike to Sulphur Skyline. Either trail would have us back in time for a lengthy post-hike recap soaking in the hot springs.
Easy Hike Rich in History
Heads, it will be the Utopia Pass trail that starts on a wide path to the ruins of the original bath house built in the 1930s. There is evidence that First Nations showed the European trappers the natural hot springs back in the 1800s.
Only a short walk away from the old bath house, 54°C (129°F) water gushes from a crack in the rocks that is cooled before it hits the pools. The trail will get narrow with skinny wooden bridges crossing the creek plenty of times to finally climb to the pass where we can have lunch before returning to the hot pools.
Tough it Out to the Top
If the coin flips to tails, we will be on a tougher hike to Sulphur Skyline with plenty of switchbacks through forests and floral alpine meadows. Eventually the trail pokes out above the tree line to a windswept ridge. The view in every direction is unhindered. Watch for the golden-mantled ground squirrels that live among the summit rocks – they are swift lunch thieves! But no worries, the bighorn sheep abundant along the trail are only interested in the flowers.
Soak Into the Sunset
After the hike, the spacious hot pools will pull us in. If the sun sets while you are there, you’re in for a treat! Jasper National Park is a dark sky preserve and the stargazing is amazing. We’ll tip our heads back and watch as the sky fills with twinkling gems.
So, let’s toss that coin and see which way we go!