Tonquin Valley- Part 2 (Maccarib Campground to Amethyst Campground)


Maccarib Campground to Amethyst Campground

Distance: 3.4 km

Elevation Loss: 50 m

Time: 1 hour

The second day of the trip was much easier and shorter than the first day. I had purposely planned it this way so we could spend the day at the lake and explore the surrounding area without having to rush around.


We woke up at around 9:30 am to the sound of other campers already leaving the site for the day. It was a great feeling not to have to run around and pack everything up right away.


We moved slow as we made our breakfast and I took my chance to take pictures of the campsite, as I had been too tired to do it the night before.

It was a blue bird sky day and we were excited to hike the valley in such great weather.

After getting everything back into our backpacks, we crossed back over the log bridge and went straight on a rocky but wide trail that was surrounded by forest.

We walked on flat ground and watched as the trail gradually smoothed itself out.

It wasn’t long before we started to see the gorgeous Ramparts poking through, more specifically Redoubt Peak.

Along the way, we were fortunate enough to catch the sighting of a well-preserved grizzly track. Tonquin Valley is well-known for its grizzly population but that was the closest we came to a bear sighting.

We crossed a wetland bridge before reaching the very northern tip of the lake, which is where there is a fork in the road.

Turning right takes you to Tonquin Valley Backcounry Lodge, Moat Lake and Tonquin Pass.

Staying straight would take us to our destination so we continued on. While we could see the saphire blue water between the trees, we still had a ways to go before we got close enough to reach the beach.

The trail began to breach around the outskirts of the east side of the lake, providing gorgeous views of Drawbridge Peak, more of Redoubt Peak and the beginning of Dungeon Peak and Surprise Point.

Off to the right we spotted a fenced off area that Parks Canada had set up for observation of a completely undisturbed environment.

As we got about 1 km from Amethyst Campground, the trail began to be surrounded by high rise bushes that was a perfect hiding spot for bears searching for berries. We were careful to make a lot of noise in this area.

After getting past the bush, we found ourselves in a vast openness of alpine grassland. The area is well protected as there are several bridges to cross on this portion of the trail, moving over wetland and creeks alike.

And then in a single moment, all of the trees cleared and we were faced with the best view of the Ramparts yet. The picture I took in that moment is now hanging in our living room, as it came a fraction of an inch close to capturing the exquisite beauty of the scenery. I truly believe that section of the hike is exactly why Tonquin has become so popular.

Once we reached the trees again we had also reached the fork in the road for the campsite, which is about 100 metres from the lakes shore. We turned left and found we were the first ones to settle down at the campground.

This meant we had our pick of tent pads. We were quick to choose a spot that would be surrounded in shade for most of the day as the heat was already becoming intense.

Once we had our tent set up, we walked to the lake and were greeted with glacier water, yellow sand and tons of mosquitos.

This is where we spent our next few hours, taking a quick dip in the cold water and then laying out on the sand, trying in vain to not get bitten by the various bugs that lived by the lake.

When we had our fill of lazing around, we decided to head further south along the shore line to explore the cabins at Tonquin Valley Adventures.


The trail remained just as flat as it had on the way to the lake as we traveled through a huge area of grassland with a large pond to our left. This allowed for trickling creeks to intersect the trail several times.

Mount Clitheroe was our main attraction to the left but we could also make out Oldhorn Mountain and Blackhorn Peak in the distance.

After 1.1 km, we reached the cabins and were surprised at their good condition.

We could see (and hear) renovations going on as we explored the area and I can’t help but wonder what the final product will look like. It’s definitely something we’re interested in checking out a little more up close next time we visit.

We headed west from the cabins, down a steep slope and to a broken down dock that was surrounded with red dirt.

Here there were four or five canoes that cabin guests were free to take for a paddle. Since we weren’t guests, we settled for lounging on the dock, reading our books and enjoying the sound of a loon off in the distance.

After enjoying a different perspective of the lake for another few hours, it was time to head back to the campground for dinner.

As we arrived back at Amethyst, I took pictures of the food locker, picnic tables and outhouse before settling in for some bison stew.

We finished the evening by going back down to the lake and enjoying a gorgeous sunset (which of course provided multiple photo opportunities).

Click here for Part 3/Day 3 of the Tonquin adventure, which features our trip from Amethyst to Switchback. Click here if you want to go back to Part 1, which features day 1!

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