Cavell Meadows trail – Jasper

Cavell Meadows trail – Jasper

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

Distance: 8.2km
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)
Bear spray
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!

Panorama Time!

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.

And (as always) please click on the pins below to save them.

41 thoughts on “Cavell Meadows trail – Jasper

  1. Those views are just tremendous, some of the most dramatic in Jasper. It’s yet another that we want to repeat before that glacier shrinks any more! Looking forward to reading about the East Ridge as we didn’t get that far 🙂

    1. I don’t know why, but when I was reading about this hike, it didn’t really sound like it was going to be quite as amazing as it was. So I was totally blown away by how close (and epic) the scenery is.

      Lisa mentioned that the Tonquin Valley loop is similarly stunning. I love that when you visit one gorgeous area in the Rockies you realize it is right next to several others that you’ll want to go back to!

      1. That’s always a nice surprise to have a hike exceed your expectations. The Tonquin Valley has been on our list forever…

  2. Ooo I’m hoping to plan a trip to Canada near Jasper as my next adventure, and reading this just made me so excited! I’ll definitely be adding Cavell Meadows to my plans 🙂 Your photos are stunning! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yay Jill! You will LOVE Jasper. It is such a gorgeous area. Let me know if you have questions when you’re making your plans. 🙂

  3. I’m so happy to find out about your blog. I would love to visit Cavell Meadows trail and The Angel of Mercy after reading this! Do you think I could do this with my daughter? She’s 4

    1. Has she been on other walks with you? If she is used to walks, then I think you could (especially to the lower viewpoint) if you take it slowly. We saw quite a few young children along the trail.

  4. This hike looks incredible!! It sounds like an amazing experience to go for a hike and have such beautiful glacier views. Cavell Pond is stunning as well!

  5. I would love to hike this…just would have to talk my husband into going the whole way! LOL He’s in better shape than me but isn’t a fan of long hikes until he sees the view

  6. We went to Alaska last summer and had our first encounters with a glacier. I absolutely agree that experiencing them now is so important. And these pictures are stunning.

    1. Yeah it is a bit scary to see how fast they are vanishing. One of my friends on twitter showed me photos from before the Ghost Glacier fell off tis mountain. It’s sad to think that might happen to the Angel Glacier one day…

  7. This walk look absolutely outstanding! I really need to explore Canada. I have only been to Toronto and Niagara but every time I read one of your blogs you fill me with so much wanderlust (and hikerlust!)

    1. Lol I love the term hikerlust! I feel like that reading other people’s blogs too. I hope you can come to this side of Canada to hike. <3

  8. I want the ability to teleport so I can check all these places you find out!! *-* Those views look absolutely incredible — I’d be up there taking photos for ages too, hehe.

  9. Talk about a loo with a view! This trail is gorgeous – I’m such a sucker for a glacier view. Thanks for sharing Edith’s story!

  10. Cavell Meadows looks like a gorgeous destination to visit! I would love to explore the area and stop at all the scenic viewpoints along the way. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Every time I read one of your blog posts, it makes me want to visit Canada asap! The scenery just looks absolutely gorgeous, and there are so many amazing hiking opportunities! I’ll be adding this one to my list for future reference. Thanks for sharing, as always! Xx Sara

  12. What a beautiful hike. I particularly like the hanging glaciers along the way. I also like learning about the story of Edith Cavell. It’s great mountain is named after a woman

    1. It sounds like she made a huge impression all over the world. I grew up in the UK, but sadly we never learned about her in school, so I am glad this Canadian mountain got me to learn about her. <3

  13. You know, he might be okay on this one! It’s one of those rare hikes with fabulous views right from the parking lot!

  14. Oooh thanks for the suggestion. I have been thinking about adding some of those. I think I will get around to it once I finish writing up the trails we did so far…

    1. Thanks Clazz! Right!? It’s just 8km…but the views are impressive even in the first 500m! You need to bring Ash!

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