Wowza. The hike up to and around Cavell Meadows is simply incredible! It is easily one of the best easy-ish hikes near Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. This walk will take you up close to the Angel Glacier and the surrounding mountains that’ll make you feel teeny. The main problem with the spectacular views is the peaks are so close, they are hard to fit into your camera.
This IS a busy trail (especially in the afternoon.) However it was super quiet in the morning. We started hiking around 8:40am. We had most viewpoints to ourselves on the way up.
Cavell Meadows trail– the basics
Elevation gain: 570m
Highest Points: 2300m
Time: 3-4 hours. We spent 3 hours taking tonnes of photos, you may want longer for breaks.
What to bring:
Even in summer, bring warm clothes and rain gear.
The 10 Essentials (as always)
Facilities: Toiles with incredible views at the trailhead
Dogs: No dogs for this one.
How hard is it? Intermediate. You do gain some elevation but the trail is easy to follow, well sign posted and never too steep.
Cavell Meadows trail map
If you fancy it, you can go further to East Ridge Summit. I’ll write a separate post about that.
Cavell Meadows trail – Getting Started
The trailhead is South of Jasper; Take Highway 93A, then turn right onto Cavell Road after 5.4km. Cavell Road is narrow and twisty but beeeautiful. You need to drive 14km, right to the end of the road. There is a large car park with loos with incredible views. The scenery is spectacular right from the first step of this adventure.
Path of the Glacier Trail
The first part of the hike is an easy trail to a viewpoint over Cavell Pond, and the Cavell Glacier, right under the Angel Glacier. It only takes about 10 minutes to hike up here, but the glacier views are fabulous.
Even if it is tempting on hot days, do not go down to the lakeshore. Chunks of glacier often drop off into the water, creating dangerously large waves. You don’t want to be standing at the waters edge when that happens! There are signs to say this; But we saw people ignoring them.
Once you’ve taken your fill of glacier photos, re-trace your steps for 400m back towards the car park. You’ll find the turn-off for the main Cavell Meadows trail.
First, you hike up switchbacks on the rocky moraine. Then, the trail meanders through some subalpine forest. It was lovely early in the morning with a hint of mist.
The Angel of Mercy
Angel Glacier is the name of the huge glacier you can see from the trail that overhangs the 300m cliff in the middle of Mount Edith Cavell. It was named in the 19th century when the angel’s wings were more pronounced. Nowadays the northern wing is getting a little stubby, while her southern wing still looks ready to fly.
Who was Edith Cavell?
Surprisingly, the shape of the glacier isn’t what gave it the angelic name. Edith Cavell was an English nurse who worked for the Belgium Red Cross in WWI. Edith tended to troops from both sides, but was executed for (allegedly) smuggling allied troops out of Belgium. She was known as the “angel of mercy.” So the mountain and glacier were both named after her within months of her execution on October 1915. (Read more here if you’re interested.)
The Cavell Meadows Loop
After 2.8km you’ll reach the Cavell Meadows viewpoint. You can turn around here if you’re tired, or continue around the loop to see oodles of alpine flowers and even better views. We took the left branch of the trail to go clockwise around the loop (to get to the highest viewpoints first.)
The rocky soils and cold environment (snow until midsummer) make it hard for plants to establish themselves, so always keep on the paths.
How hard is hiking Cavell Meadows
The climb to the top of the meadows will get your heart pumping, but it is not crazily steep. We saw loads of children in the lower sections of the meadows in the afternoon.
If you hike a lot, you will not find any of this trail challenging. But I should probably mention that we heard a lot of people moaning about how tough it is. And I chatted to a couple of groups who sat down close to the top, deciding it was too hard to go any further. If you find it hard, take it slowly, with lots of photo breaks. You can do this!
Cavell Meadows Upper Viewpoint
Head for the “trails end” viewpoint on a ridge above the meadows. Or, if you have extra energy and don’t mind going beyond the main trail; You can hike to the top of the East Ridge Summit. I’ll write an extra post about that section, as it was one of my favourite hikes in Jasper, and needs loads of photos!
These were my favourite two viewpoints around Cavell Meadows. (you can click on them for larger versions.) The first is from the upper viewpoint to the east. The second is the southern Cavell Pond viewpoint. It’s pretty fabulous that you can reach these with an 8km hike.
The thing is, there are no bad views on this trail! I loved being able to look over at the rocky cliffs of Mount Edith Cavell. It made me feel teeny and insignificant.
Cavell Pond Viewpoint
The busiest viewpoint was at the south end of the trail where you can peek down to Cavell Pond. It’s pretty cool to see both the Angel Glacier and Cavell Glacier from here.
Once you’ve soaked in the views, walk along the Cavell Meadows loop until you reach the switchbacks that take you back to the base of the glaciers.
Wildfire smoke near Mount Edith Cavell
Just as an extra note; We visited this area when most of the Icefields Parkway was very smoky from forest fires, but somehow the mountains around Mount Edith Cavell blocked off the worst of the smoke, so the air was much clearer here than Jasper. My friend visited a week before us, and she mentioned noticing the same thing, so this hike might be better than the surrounding area if you’re in the Canadian Rockies during wildfire season.
The Cavell Meadows is one of those adventures that really punches above its weight in terms of how much effort you need to put in to reach incredible flower-filled meadows surrounded by towering peaks and glaciers. If you don’t have much time, it is still worth visiting for half an hour to walk up the Path of the Glacier trail. But if you can spare half a day, I fully endorse exploring the loop around the meadows. If you are a strong hiker, consider going beyond the main trail to the East Ridge Summit.
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