The Path of the Glacier Trail in Jasper National Park takes you close to the north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, the highest mountain in the area with peaks of 3,300m, and to the glaciers that hang from it (Angel, Cavell and Ghost). It’s a hike the entire family can probably do since the path is well tended to and there are benches to rest on along the way. There were three generations in our group including two young children and an infant.
The mountain is named after Edith Cavell, a British nurse who was executed during World War I for helping Allied prisoners escape.
This 45-minute hike takes you through the debris left behind by retreating glaciers and ends at a melt-water pond that is filled with small icebergs. Signs explain that Mt. Edith Cavell receives heavy snowfall, sometimes even in summer, and since the snow is unable to cling to the sheer walls of the mountain it avalanches downward, collecting on ledges and transforming into glacier ice. Because of the ongoing thawing and freezing, cracks are created that can eventually give way, causing an ice avalanche. This is why it can be dangerous to go down to the melt-water pond that lies beneath the glaciers.
In August 2012, tons of ice fell off Ghost Glacier causing what the Park describes as a mini-tsunami of water, rock, ice and mud that covered the Glacier Trail and the parking lot. The Park says that what fell was equivalent to about 1428 city buses. That may be hard to imagine but it was estimated to be the largest volume of snow and ice to fall from a mountain in Jasper. Luckily it happened in the early morning before any visitors had arrived, but it did force the road and trail to be closed for some time.
This hike is a great opportunity for kids to learn about glaciers, melt-water and avalanches. And for such little effort you are rewarded with fantastic views and the freshest air.
Just getting up to the trailhead is a bit of an adventure since the 14km drive is on a narrow, winding road. Take Highway 93A south of Jasper for 5.2 km and after crossing the Astoria River turn right onto Cavell Road. If you go early or later in the day the parking lot will hopefully not be too full.
See the ever growing Bucket List for Kids in Canada
By Jessica Sunter
Photo credits Riding the buses™
© Riding the buses™ 2015