the north face womens gilet Jasper park gives impressive views of the Canadian Rockies
JASPER, Alberta, Canada Two hikes on the north face of Mount Edith Cavell are certainly not among the toughest in Jasper National Park.
The Path of the Glacier and Cavell Meadows are two of the most popular destinations for day hikers in the sprawling wild park on the eastern slope of the Canadian Rockies.
The 1 mile Path of the Glacier might be one of the best short hikes in the park. It is a loop through a glacial basin to a small but stunning lake at the edge of Cavell Glacier.
Icebergs from the glacier were adrift in the unworldly green blue waters. Ice caves are visible along the edge of the pond. It looked like Antarctica only the penguins were missing. The pond was created in 1963 by the retreating glacier.
Also visible higher up are Angel Glacier, which clings to the rock wall of Mount Edith Cavell, the tallest peak in the park at 11,033 feet, and Ghost Glacier, which clings to a spot on the mountain.
Stunning Angel Glacier spills out of a cirque and clings to a nearly 1,000 foot cliff. It looks less like an angel now because it is shrinking.
Imposing and impressive
But the three glaciers and the imposing 4,920 foot sheer rock wall on the mountain’s north face are impressive.
During our hike, thunder roared. It was an avalanche on the other side of the mountain, but the roar echoed down the valley.
From the same trailhead, you can hike through flower filled Cavell Meadows, a 3.8 mile loop. It climbs 1,300 feet above where most tourists trek for an up high alpine view of Angel Glacier.
Mount Edith Cavell nicknamed the White Ghost by native people for its snowy summit is named for a British nurse executed in World War I for helping prisoners escape from German occupied Belgium.
Both trails are popular, so don’t use them if you are looking for solitude. Visit early or late in the day.
The area is typically open from mid June to October.
To get to Mount Edith Cavell, head south from Jasper for 4 1/2 miles on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Turn off on Highway 93A and head south for 3 1/2 miles to Cavell Road. Follow it for nine miles to its terminus at the trailhead.
Jasper is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks, covering 4,335 square miles or 1.6 million acres. It was established in 1907 as Canada’s fifth national park.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made two visits in 1914 and 1923, and wrote that anyone who had visited Jasper had experienced a taste of heaven.
Jasper, perhaps the wildest mountain park in North America, gets about 1.8 million visitors a year. It is more wild and empty than Banff National Park. What you will find in Jasper’s wilds is like Alaska, but more accessible.
Jasper is a backpackers’ dream with 660 miles of wild long distance trails. It is the premiere park in North America for remote wilderness hiking. Wilderness passes are required.
The Skyline Trail might be the No. 1 and most scenic backpacking route in the park.
The 27.4 mile trail runs from Maligne Lake through the Maligne Range. It climbs to a high ridge between the Athabasca River and Maligne Valley. Much of the route stays high and crosses three passes, the highest at 8,240 feet.
It is a stellar three day backpack trip with killer vistas. On clear days, you can see 12,972 foot Mount Robson, nearly 60 miles away. It is at its most colorful and driest from mid July to mid August.
Strict park quotas are in place along the Skyline Trail because of its popularity.
The North Boundary Trail runs 107 miles and the South Boundary Trail stretches 103 miles. Both run mostly through forests below the timberline at about 5,000 feet elevation.
The Jonas Pass Trail runs 32 miles, of which nine miles is above the timberline.
Most low elevation trails are free of snow by mid May. The higher trails won’t be snow free until mid July. Snow can hit again in October.
Far from the glitz
Jasper itself is a small town, not glitzy like Banff. It has less than 5,000 residents. Jasper was founded by fur trappers. It was a key stop on the Canadian National Railway and remains a proud rail town.
Key park attractions for most visitors are the Athabasca Glacier on the Icefields Parkway to Banff, very pretty Maligne Lake, Mount Edith Cavell and Athabasca Falls, where the river tumbles 70 feet.
Few roads cross the park, meaning that much of Jasper is unforgiving backcountry. It features broad valleys, rugged mountains, endless forests, glaciers, alpine meadows and wild rivers.