It’s hard to believe that it took nearly eight years before we got around to this Jasper National Park classic, but what a trip it was. We’ve longed to hike the Cavell Meadows trail for many years but for a variety of reasons the trail has been closed – bear activity, caribou activity, poor weather, poor early season conditions, poor late season conditions – preventing our access to the coveted alpine section of this hike.
What to Expect
- The Cavell Meadows Trail is an 8km loop (elevation gain ~ 300m) that gets you above the treeline in short order and onto a patchwork of subalpine and alpine meadows in the shadow of Mount Edith Cavell (3363m) and Sorrow Peak (3020m). In addition to the peaks, two glaciers are apparent from the trailhead: Cavell Glacier dips into the meltwater pond at the base of Mount Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier dominates the face of the mountain hanging between the two peaks. The remnants of the smaller Ghost Glacier is found higher up on the east-ish facing flank of Mount Edith Cavell.
In addition to the mountain and glacier views you have a good chance to catch the meadows in bloom starting early July with resplendent wildflower displays until mid August. Unfortunately for our trip we missed the first bloom by about a week. This area is also excellent Grizzly and Mountain Caribou habitat so keep an eye out for ‘others sharing the trail’. If all this wasn’t enough excitement you are pretty much guaranteed to witness Angel Glacier calve at some point during your hike. If you do not see the glacier calve, you’ll definitely hear the thunderous roar.
Cavell Meadows shares the trailhead with the more popular, and far less strenuous, Path of the Glacier Trail.
The Cavell Meadows Trail starts a short distance along the uphill section of the Path of the Glacier. Branching off to the left the trail quickly gains elevation through a boulder field – watch for marmots! The trail levels briefly before ascending through old growth forest. Near the treeline the trail offers two options, a direct route or switchbacks to the top of the loop.
If you are not pressed for time we’d recommend a rest/lunch stop at the cairn located at the top of the loop (pack a jumper you’ll need it if the wind is up) before continuing the climb to the ‘designated’ viewpoint. Please do not feed the marmots, squirrels, or chipmunks. There is the option of continuing to prominent high points (~2590m) for dramatic views of the valley below.
If you decide the Cavell Meadows isn’t for you, continuing along the Path of the Glacier Trail offers an excellent interpretive experience providing park visitors with information regarding glaciation, the fragility of the alpine ecosystem, and an opportunity to dip a toe in glacial meltwater.
The meadows are located south of the Jasper townsite. Take the next right (93A exit) after passing through the Park gate south of town. Take a right onto Cavell Road and follow until Mount Edith Cavell blocks further progress (12km). Note, the road is closed during the winter months.
The Fine Print
All users of the Park must have a valid Park pass, available at all staffed gates.
Dog are not allowed in habitat considered critical to the Mountain Caribou.
Be bear aware. Bear spray and is recommended.