The turquoise meltwater of Cavell Pond sitting below the jagged summit of Mount Edith Cavell is one of the most beautiful settings in Jasper National Park. This is one of the few places where a short walk will get you up close and personal with a glacier. If you’re up to the challenge a trail branches off from the Path Of Glacier Trail to hike to the Cavell Meadows for more stunning mountain views.
Path Of The Glacier Trail
The trail head is accessed from the end of Cavell Road. Take the set up stairs leading from the far end of the parking lot and follow the trail to the Edith Cavell Memorial. The first part of the trail is paved. It climbs steadily for half a kilometer to a junction where the pavement ends. Continue ahead to the incredible viewpoint overlooking Cavell Pond. Follow the trail back the way you came.
The trail used to be a loop, but due to the Ghost Glacier falling from the face of the mountain and causing a tidal wave of water carrying ice and debris that flowed down the valley. The landscape was drastically changed and the lower portion of what was the loop trail was destroyed. Due to further danger of falling rock and ice it is no longer permitted to go beyond the viewpoint area to the pond edge beneath the Angel Glacier. It is closed for public safety, remain on the trail and respect all the signs.
- 1.6 km’s return
- 70 meter elevation gain
- Allow 1 hour return, but you will likely want to spend more time admiring the beauty of the area
For more of a challenge and views from higher up consider doing the hike to Cavell Meadows. The start of the trail to the meadows breaks off from the uphill side of the Path of the Glaciers Loop. You will see it after a short distance on the left hand side.
Looking at the Cavell Pond you would think you had stepped back in time and were looking at the scene of an ice age. The water is dotted with floating icebergs of various shades of blue.
The glacier is close enough that you can make out its various layers. It’s such a stunning site that even the Hoary Marmots like to sit and admire the views.
Cavell Glacier actively calves off giant chunks of ice into the water below. Occasionally you will hear a thunderous roar. If you are lucky enough you might witness a giant piece of ice sliding down the mountainside and avalanches of debris showering the rock face.
The third glacier called Ghost Glacier sits to the left of Angel Glacier, as visible in the photo below. Today a mere remnant of it remains.
During your walk keep your eyes open for critters such as ground squirrels, pikas, Hoary marmots and birds such a Ptarmigans.
Directions And Seasonal Road Access
- Mount Edith Cavell is located in Jasper National Park approximately 45 minutes south of the Jasper town site.
- Drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), past the park gate. At the 7km mark turn right on 93a. Follow 93a for 5.4 km’s and turn right onto Cavell Road. Drive approximately 14 km to the parking lot at the end of the road.
- Parking stalls are limited, in the busy summer months you may have to park at the side of the road.
- The road is paved, but it is narrow and has areas with no shoulder where it drops away. There are sections of rough broken pavement and several tight switchbacks. Motor homes over 7 meters or 22 ft should not attempt the drive. If you are towing a trailer it should be dropped off at the parking lot near the start of the road.
- The Road To Edith Cavell is seasonal and typically does not open until mid-June each year. It closes in late September or mid October depending on when the first major snowfall occurs.
- There are a couple of pullout spots along the drive, be sure to take in the Astoria Valley Viewpoint, 4 km up the road.
Tips For Visiting Edith Cavell
- Visiting the area in the last few weeks before the road closes in late September or early October offers a unique opportunity. The pond recedes leaving the huge icebergs fully exposed out of the water. Bring hiking poles and shoes with good traction at this time of year. The trail can be snowy and slippery on sunny days.
- In the busy tourist season of July and August try to arrive before 9am or after 3pm to avoid crowds and have better access to parking. The best light on the glacier is also early in the morning.
- The weather can be unpredictable. Even if it is sunny and warm at your accommodation in Jasper it might be colder at the high elevation at the mountain. Bring a sweater or light jacket to wrap around your waist or put in a day pack.
- There are washrooms near the trail head, but no other facilities, bring your own water and snacks if you want them.