Kane gave Utopia Mountain a round trip time in his Canadian Rockies Scrambles guide book of 7-10 hours. I completed it in 4.5 hours. Although I am quite fit, I am still almost 50 years old and was not racing up the mountain by any stretch. So this is not the long day out that you might be led to believe.
He also has it rated as difficult, but by comparison to other difficult scrambles in the book, it would be at the very bottom of the list in terms of any difficulty
. Very little hands-on scrambling was required en route. What Utopia does offer up is four distinct peaks
, several offering as false summits. Its name seems to derive from surveyors who escaped the black flies on their way to its summit. There are four survey markers on its third peak, not its actual summit.
The biggest plus for scrambling Utopia and why it gets a recommendation from me is the ability to wash up and soak your feet in the raw sulphur hot springs on descent
. Stash a towel at the interpretative in-flow beyond the old Miette Hot Springs ruins. This was the only raw spring I could find that were not too hot.
Several of the inlets are supposedly in the 160F range and after testing a few, I can vouch for that. If you don’t mind swimming with the "great white hippos", go ahead and pay the fee to enjoy the resort pool fed by the springs. Sure does not look like fun to me, not to mention they appear to be chlorinating the damn water and returning it down the trail and into the creek.
Drive approximately 44kms north of Jasper to the Miette Hot Springs turnoff (right). Drive to the end of the road, the Miette Hot Springs resort, approximately 18kms. Park at the very south end of all the parking areas next to the old hot springs interpretive paved trail.
When to Climb
Due to the high flow of the upper right fork of Sulphur Creek which you need to follow on approach, it is best not to do this scramble until at least mid-July.
I climbed it in early August and the water level had just receded below the scramblers trail. This should be a good objective through late into the season.
You are in Jasper National Park and will need a national park pass to access this area. The closest camping is Pocahontas on the Miette Hot Springs road, which offers nice sites actually, way better than the crowded camp sites back in Jasper.
External LinksMost inclusive first-hand knowledge and accounts of Canadian Rockies Scrambles on the Internet
Jasper National Park, Parks Canada
Cocos Café, my personal favorite place to grab a coffee or bite