Hiking Mount Assiniboine: Sunshine Village to Mt. Shark in 5 days
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is the true hidden gem in the Canadian Rockies. Filled with sparkling glacial lakes, impressive glaciers, rugged mountain peaks, and awe-inspiring alpine meadows, this provincial park is a world-class playground for hiking, climbing, camping, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Its most famous peak is Mount Assiniboine itself, often referred to as the “Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies”. At an elevation of 3,618m, this peak can often be seen from miles away.
However, what is truly special about this place is that it is kept wild. There are no roads that lead to or traverse this provincial park. This means that the only way to access Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is by lengthy hiking trails (or by helicopter... but we prefer the full hiking and camping experience)!
We explored this spectacular mountain range during the summer of 2020. We decided to hike for 5-days, starting at Sunshine Village and ending at Mt. Shark Trailhead. We highly recommend to spend at least 4-5 days in the park to truly enjoy the landscapes. In this article, we describe our 5-day hiking itinerary in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, which was our most memorable backpacking trip to date. We also highlight essential things to know before you go!
Watch our YouTube video with all the details on the trail below.
Things to know before you go
The best time to visit Mount Assiniboine is during the summer months of July and August when the snow is usually melted and the summer days are long. However, the weather in the mountains changes constantly! This means that even in the summer it can be cold (or sometimes even snowy). Hiking Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park means that you have to be prepared for any kind of weather. Our 5-day hiking trip at the end of July started off cloudy and rainy on the first two days, while the other days were dry and sunny. In the last 2 days, the temperatures reached nearly 30°C. We consider ourselves very lucky!
In order to stay overnight near the iconic peak of Mount Assiniboine, you will need a reservation. We highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible as the camping, huts, and lodge spots book out fast. We booked a campsite at Lake Magog on the day reservations opened, and two hours later all spots were filled! The upside of this is that the booking system also limits the number of visitors.
If you are too late to book a spot, there are few alternative campsites that don’t need a reservation (but are further away). These are explained in the camping options below.
As we already mentioned, there are three types of accommodation options in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park:
Camping (multiple campgrounds in and near Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park)
We recommend staying at least 2 nights in the core area of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, as this is where all the beauty lies. The only places that are near the mountain peak are Lake Magog Campsite, the Naiset Huts, and Assiniboine Lodge. We stayed for 3 nights at the Lake Magog Campsite and absolutely loved it!
Campground options in and near Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park:
Porcupine Creek - FREE first-come-first-serve campsite with limited spots. 18 km / 11 mi away from Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog. No need to book.
Og Lake - Reservation required via BC Parks, 7.2 km / 4.5 mi away from Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog, C$10 per night per person. Book in advance.
Lake Magog - Reservation required via BC Parks, right next to Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog, C$10 per night per person. Book in advance.
Marvel Lake - Backcountry camping permit required via Parks Canada, 15 km / 9.3 mi away from Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog.
Bryant Creek Campsite/Shelter - Backcountry camping permit required via Parks Canada, 15 km / 9.3 mi away from Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog. Backcountry permit required.
McBrides Camp - Backcountry camping permit required via Parks Canada, 12.4 km / 7.7 mi away from Mount Assiniboine/Lake Magog.
The latter 3 campgrounds are all located in Banff National Park, and therefore require a reservation via the national “Parks Canada” reservation system. All campgrounds provide bear caches, water sources, and an outhouse (no toilet paper!).
Mt. Shark Trailhead / Sunshine Village Shuttle
For the itinerary suggested, you will need a car at Mt. Shark Trailhead once you complete the hike. If you only have one car (that you need to drive to the start of the trailhead), it is possible to arrange a pick-up by shuttle. White Mountain Adventures offers daily shuttles to both Sunshine Village and Mount Shark Trailhead from late June to late September.
We were lucky to have two