We had the most magical morning for the Cavell Meadows Hike. The clouds were lifting between storms, and everywhere you looked the views were like a fairy tail. We tried to do this hike several years ago, but due to bad weather we didn’t make it. The trail is often closed until the first part of July to protect the fragile upper meadows area.
You have 2 different options for this hike, and both of them are stunning. The most popular route is the Path of Glaciers which is only 1 mile roundtrip with very little elevation gain. It’s a great hike for anyone looking for great views with very little hiking involved. Since we went in July, we’ve been recommending it to anyone with small children, because there’s so much reward for a small amount of effort.
Of course since it’s a short hike with incredible views, you can definitely expect crowds of people at the overlook. If you can go early in the morning, that’s the best time to enjoy the mountain views in solitude. By the time you’re heading back, you’ll be shocked by the amount of people heading up the trail!
Along the way to the lookout, there’s several benches where you can pause to admire the views. We didn’t get to go on the section of trail that leads right down to the meltwater below the glacier because it was too early in the season, and that portion of the trail was closed due to falling rocks.
So instead of completing the Path of the Glacier Trail, we took the upper route called the Cavell Meadows loop trail which is about 5 miles roundtrip with a fair amount of elevation, (1,500′). There’s something about the way you gain the elevation that makes it seem harder than you would think.
If you’re looking for a lighter day, start hiking up the Cavell Meadows Trail until you come to a heap of rocks to your right, (see the above photo). From there you can climb up one of the many side trails to see the Cavell Glacier and it’s meltwater, with Angel Glacier far above. It’s one of the best views of the entire hike, (see the last 2 photos). So it’s a great way to get the incredible view, but keep the hike easy if you’re having a rest day, or have small children along on the hike.
If you do hike the Cavell Meadows Trail, you’ll rise higher and higher out of the tree line until you’re eye level with Angel Glacier which hangs on the side of Mount Edith Cavell. The views sweep away into the valley, and every direction you turn is breathtaking!
As you can tell, even in July it’s pretty chilly in the Rocky Mountains. It’s best to come prepared year round with multiple layers, and always bring a hat and gloves, along with some sort of wind breaker type of jacket. The wind can really howl in the mountains, and you’ll get super cold really fast without some type of protection. Before I got my Gortex rain jacket, I carried my down coat year round just to give you an idea of how cold it gets, even in the summer.
I feel like I could go on and on about this hike because it’s so incredibly beautiful, and it’s definitely not one to be missed if you’re in the area. And speaking of which, this hike is located just south of the town of Jasper. There’s long winding road into the trailhead which is not suitable for trailers or large RV’s, so that’s something to consider as well if you’re staying in or around Jasper.
With the area from Banff to Jasper being so spread out, (4-6 hours apart driving time) we planned out our hikes, and worked from the top down. We started in Banff, then went to the Maligne Lake area past Jasper, and then hiked our way back to Banff. Our main reason for the order of hikes was the weather forecast, which was way better in Jasper than Banff when were there. But it’s definitely important to have some sort of order, or you’ll end up spending a lot of time on the road!
On our first trip to this area, we didn’t do much research ahead of time, and ended up losing a lot of time to driving. There’s not many food options between Banff and Jasper, so we found ourselves driving for hours each night just to get dinner, and then driving hours the next morning for another hike. I’ll be writing more about the logistics in another post, but I just wanted to mention a couple of tips since this hike is a little further out than some of the other popular hikes along the Icefields Parkway Road.
These last 2 pictures are from the view I mentioned above, where you hike a little ways up the Cavell Meadows Trail to the pile of rocks on the right. While all the views are fantastic on this hike, this unofficial lookout gives you the best views of both glaciers and the meltwater, without any trees or other obstructions in the way.
This hike at a glance:
- 2 glaciers and 1 incredibly aqua colored meltwater.
- Alpine meadows and flowers.
- Sweeping panoramic views.
- 2 different trails – Path of the Glacier Trail rated easy, and Cavell Meadows Trail rated moderately strenuous.
- Unbeatable views for such a short distance!