Round-Trip: 27 miles, 3 to 5 days
When to Go: July to September; it can snow any day of the year.
Watching the sunrise light up the enormous broadside of the Ramparts, throwing golden reflections into the waters of Amethyst Lake, is an experience worthy of any effort expended to get into this wild valley. First photographed in 1915, the unrelenting beauty of the Tonquin Valley, nestled deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, has drawn pilgrims ever since—including Ansel Adams, whose very first trip as a Sierra Club photographer was right here. This big hiking loop takes you in over high, scenic McCarib Pass and out via the lovely Astoria River, laying the whole mind-blowing landscape before you in a backcountry journey to rival any.
Insider Tip: If all those grizzly bears wandering around make you uneasy, consider booking accommodations at two wilderness lodges hidden at the edges of the valley. Founded as horsepacking operations, both the Amethyst Lake Lodge and Tonquin Valley Lodge increasingly cater to hikers looking for a bit of comfort and home-cooked meals in this wild place.