Resupplying on the Great Divide Trail

The Basics

Resupplying on the GDT is either very easy or very difficult, depending on your point of view. There are very few choices, so there is no reason to fret and nothing to choose between. This is the easy aspect. On the other hand, the choices are mostly bad. This is the difficult aspect. If you have a support person inside of Canada, your life might be marginally easier as you can send yourself a food drop to General Delivery at a postoffice just like you can in the States. Address your package as:

Chris Willett
c/o General Delivery
Please hold for long distance hiker
Estimated Arrival: July 22, 2004

Yes, those are both letters and numbers in the postal code. I sent a maildrop with maps to myself in Jasper and it worked out (mostly) fine. The problem with this approach is that only three places near the GDT have postoffices, and they are in towns with large supermarkets and lots of food choices. If you do not have someone in Canada that can mail you supplies, I would forget about this method altogether. Because of customs, it is doubtful that your package will make it into Canada without at least some delays and difficulties. Plus, the cost will be high. If you contact some private businesses, you might be able to mail yourself a food box to them. I would not recommend this, as it seems to be unlikely that you will actually get your maildrop (lost, not picked up, etc). The two other thruhikers I met tried this and failed two out of two times. I think the best option is to bite the bullet and buy as you go. This is what I primarily did and, though expensive and even difficult at times, it is the most convenient

Information and contact data for resupplying can be found in Dustin Lynx's Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail, but the book dates from 1999 and things can (and do) change rapidly. He has a few other (expensive) resupply options to cut down some of the long distances between resupply points. I have not given distances between resupply points as you can get this out of the guidebook, and actual distance varies with the route you choose to take. However, except for the Field to The Crossing leg, expect to haul around five to eight days of food per leg. More if you move slower than I did (usually around 40 K per day), less if faster.


Waterton is a tourist town with most of the normal tourist facilities, including expensive restaurants and places to stay. It seems to lack either an outfitter or a real grocery store, but has several nice art galleries and several ugly places to buy touron memorabilia. I ate dinner at Zum's, which was ridiculously overpriced and undersized and of not very good quality. Breakfast at Cafe Franks was good and not too expensive. There is an area for walk in camping right on the lake and it costs $19 per night. The bathrooms have hot showers. I decided not to pay the $19 (having already given Parks Canada more than $100 in fees) and instead slept illegally in one of the picnic shelters at the site, which is really just some green, grassy hills. Make your own decision, however.

Blairemore and Coleman

Blairemore is a large town with everything a hiker could want, except an outfitters (and it may have that, but I didn't look). I didn't look for fuel either, but given the size of Blairemore it has to be there somewhere. The Guidebook routes the GDT into Coleman and skips Blairemore altogether. I decided to go into Blairemore on the advice of some locals. Apparently, Coleman residents go to Blairemore for groceries, so why shouldn't I? That, and I got a little lost. If you walk into town via Lynx Creek road (see the updates page for more details) getting to motels is easy. When Lynx Creek road comes into town and becomes paved, take a left and walk through the residential area, cross a field, and walk across the railroad tracks. There are several motels in the area, but the most interesting looking one is the Cosmopolitan. I imagine it might be similar to the Doyle in Duncannon, PA, an establishment of great fame on the Appalachian Trail. I didn't stay there, however and so cannot recommend it. Blairemore and Coleman are the last places where you can get a room (for a reasonable rate), as towns further north are complete tourist traps. I suspect that Blairemore has a postoffice, but I didn't go searching for it.

To get to the supermarket, continue walking away from the tracks until you hit the creek. Depending on where you meet the creek, you may have to walk left or right to get to a bridge across it. From the RCMP post, you turn right, though. Once across the creek, continue walking away from it until you get to HWY 3, which is rather large. But, the shoulders are big. Walk the shoulder to the West Access exit for Blairemore. The hospital and IGA (supermarket) are right there. There is a nice coffee shop next to the IGA. You can, of course, walk through town (probably following the train tracks) and avoid HWY 3, but I didn't do this and so can't speak to it.

Continue west on HWY 3 another mile to get to Coleman, which is a rather spread out town. Coleman has several fast food joints, a laundromat (with internet, I believe), a small mini-mart, and several inexpensive looking motels. There is a nice coffee shop on the left side of the road, near the east end of town. You could probably resupply out of the mini-mart, but given that the IGA in Blairemore is the last until Jasper, I'd go into Blairemore instead. Moreover, the walk into Coleman is along gravel roads. So is the walk along Lynx Creek road into Blairemore. Lynx Creek road is pleasant and pretty, and if you wanted to hitching would not be a problem: About ten cars passed me and about eight offered me a ride.


Elkford is nowhere near the GDT and I still walked right through it. After getting kicked out of Line Creek mine, I was deposited onto HWy 43 by a friendly mine worker on his way home from the mine. HWY 43 is large and paved with a lot of traffic to Elkford. Two locals in a mini-subcompact with {\em Cypress Hill} blasting on the jumbo speakers gave me a lift for the last 10 K into town. In Elkford, HWY 43 turns to gravel and sees very little traffic (although almost everyone stopped to offer me a lift for the 80 K to Elk Lakes) and changes its name to Elk River road. Elkford has two motels, although both were full with mine workers when I was in town. Rates were approximately $65 a night, however. Elkford has a municipal RV park with scaldingly hot showers (middle of town) for about $12 a night. Across the road from the RV park is a complex with a diner and pub (inside the motel), good sized grocery store, and package store (warm beer, wine, and liquor). Breakfast at the diner included American sized portions and they did a fairly decent omelette.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

The GDT drops you out and onto the main park road. Walk about 2K to the right to get to the Boulton Creek Trading Post. Lots of cars passed me, none of them giving me more than a look. Supplies are limited here, but I eeked out 7 days worth. Prices are high, however. 200 grams of cheese cost me $5. Snickers bars are $1.20. Generic Ramen cost $1. I picked up the last boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, as well as the last four Lipton's Sidekicks (rice dish). They had one liter (or two?) bottles of Coleman fuel for sale. No cannisters. No HEET or denatured. I bought 24 Colgens solid fuel tabs for $9, and I desperately needed them. They were utter junk; three of them would make bring a liter of water to a nice bathing temperature. There is a restaurant next to the trading post, but I declined to go to it. If you have hiked a long trail, you know that this says a lot. It looked okay, but I didn't like all the tourons that were loitering about (I would have preferred a group of toughs) and was afraid at how much I might spend.

From where the GDT hits the road, you can turn left and hike less than 1 K to the Mount Sarrail campground. While this is supposed to be for hikers, a walk in site apparently means park your car and walk 10 meters to your campsite. The sites are hard as concrete and cost $19 a night. Four of the six bear lockers were non-functional (didn't latch). The campground host was very friendly and helpful and even let me camp slightly in the woods since I couldn't drive stakes into the ground. However, he does check that you've paid. I think the best option is to stealth camp in the area, but the choice is yours. From the campground, walk back to the main road, take a left, and then the first right up to the lake to get back to the GDT.


Field is a small town on the TransCanada Highway (HWY 1) in between Golden and Banff, and close to neither. Very picturesque, but also lacking in services that a long distance hiker might want. Just about every resident of Field has converted their basement to a B&B, and the rates are supposedly (according to several locals I got to know) very high. Also, every place had a No Vacancy sign on it. There was a large, commercial looking hotel, but I shudder to think what they charge. There is a post office in town (its address is at the top of this page) with a very friendly and helpful postmaster (she tracked me down in town when a letter arrived for me). There is a very nice cafe called {\em Truffle Pigs}. Excellent coffee and the quality of the food is high. Prices are not bad, but portions follow the Canadian custom of being sensible. This is the last thing a hungry hiker wants to encounter and I drew laughs and questions when, after putting down a plate of huevos rancheros, I ordered a plate of blueberry french toast. Truffle Pigs is also the place where you will buy your food if you need to. Resupplying here would be slightly easier than at Peter Lougheed, with perhaps a little more choice and a little less expense. I think they had Coleman fuel. Friends from Calgary met me in Field and brought up a food box I had prepared in advance. The cafe is also licensed, which means you can buy beer, wine, and liquor to go, although none it ca be cold. Dinner at Truffle Pigs should be considered fine dining, not stuff-your-face-with-a-plate-of-slope. This means you get high quality, interesting food and have to pay for it. The staff there was overwhelmingly friendly and I will always remember my two days in town. There is a Parks Canada office in town where you can get trail condition updates and make reservations for campsites, if you are doing that sort of thing.

Lodging in Field is tricky and you should plan to camp. The main problem is that the closest official campsite is Monarch, about 5 K northeast of Field on HWY 1. The night before reaching Field I spent on the sandy banks of the Kicking Horse River, about 1 K southwest of Field near HWY 1. Coming from the GDT, you'll spot Field and eventually see a place where you can scramble down to the river. There isn't anywhere nearby to park a car, so I felt fairly secure despite my proximity to Canada's main highway. Unlike US interstates, traffic on HWY 1 dies off around 10 pm, although the train comes through several times a night. In Field itself, you can try to camp near the bridge over the Kicking Horse, although you will definitely be taking some chances doing this. Not only are you accessible to anyone and everyone, but I saw several sets of large bear tracks in this area when I was looking for a different bit of shade to lounge in.

The Crossing

The Crossing is a commercial establishment on the North Saskatchewan River and HWY 93 (Icefields Parkway). Think of a large, touristy truckstop in the States. It is also the only place you can supply for the haul to Jasper. There appears to be many rooms to rent, and there was vacancy, but do not expect it: There were tons of people, RVs, trailers, and tour buses. I would expect a room here to be cheaper than anywhere outside of Blairemore, Coleman, and Elkford. The main building holds mostly tourist junk, but also has enough supplies to get you to Jasper. However, selection is very limited and prices are high (as in Peter Lougheed high). No fuel that I could spot except for the big green Coleman butane cannisters for car camping. There is also a restaurant, although after looking at the menu, some food on people's plates, and the prices, I declined to eat there. Again, if you've ever gone on a long distance hike, that tells you something significant. Instead, I opted for a big bag of chips, a liter of chocolate milk, and a liter of ginger ale.


Jasper is everything you could want, and too much at the same time. While not as gruesome as Banff townsite, Jasper is still filled with lots and lots of tourists, RVs, and big trailers. While there are motels in the town, don't expect either vacancy or a cheap rate. However, there about 2.5 K outside of town is Whistler's campground, which costs you $19 a night, has mildly hot showers, and has lots of space for hikers. Although the car camping slots fill up fast (usually by 2 or 3 in the afternoon), the walk-in sites rarely do. Jasper is surrounded by forest and you could find a stealth site without much difficulty if you didn't want to pay for Whistler. I paid as I really wanted a shower, my first since leaving Calgary.

There is a postoffice in town as well as a large Parks Canada building where you can make reservations for the North Boundary trail (if you are taking that route) or for the GDT. There is an excellent climbing store (Gravity Gear) in the main part of town, near the McDonalds, and the staff there are incredibly helpful and friendly. If you want a lift to the NBT trailhead, Jasper Taxi are the people to call. They took myself and two others out there for $40 total. Other companies wanted more like $150. There is a supermarket in the center of town from which resupply is easy. Several convenience stores in town are run by Koreans and have excellent kimchi ramen. The Kimchi House, a restaurant, is recommended for good Korean food. There are numerous package stores and (being Alberta), they have cold beer as well as the usual warm beer, wine, and liquor. Many fast food restaurants, pizza places, bars, and fine dining opportunity. There is a large laundromat complete with internet and good coffee.

Mount Robson

Should you choose to end your hike here, you won't find much. There is camping in the area, as well as cabins for rent. There is a large gas station cum restaurant which has fairly good breakfast dishes (and lots of pastries!) and enough supplies for hikers looking to push on.