We started this hike at 8:10 a.m., finishing at 1:20 p.m., including a 30 minute stop on top to eat and enjoy the spectacular views. We decided to take the old broad fire road all the way to the horse hitching post, 3.2 mi (5.2 km), elevation gain of 1,575 ft (480 m). The fire road is less steep, but takes longer to hike than the official cut-off trail. We saw no other people on the road up, but did enjoy watching squirrels carry large mushrooms across the trail. We also saw a lone deer that even moved closer to us as we stood very still. The road up offers practically no views and I wondered if the reward at the top would be worth it. If you don't mind a steep ascent, take the official cut-off trail (there's a sign) and stop along the way for great views of Maligne Lake. Or, do like us, and take the cut-off trail on the return portion of the hike. Anyway, back to heading uphill: If you take the road up, continue on the wide road past the hitching post to eventually start the climb up the balds. If you take the cut-off trail, when you reach the road, the hitching post will be to the right, instead continue on the road going to the left to eventually ascend the balds. Go over the first bald and onto the higher second bald with the huge stone man cairn (upside down cone shaped) on top and ABSOLUTELY THE BEST PANORAMIC VIEW in Jasper National Park. The reason I like this view the best is because I am partial to mountain views with lakes and this view of the mountains also has Maligne Lake in it. We had this magnificent spot all to ourselves since we had started hiking so early. You can continue over this second bald and explore more balds or loop down to a narrow trail that takes you back to the road where you started ascending the balds. Remember this hike is a lot tougher and longer than what is stated above if you continue past the hitching post to explore the balds - but it is SO worth it!!
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