This terrific short hike ascends to the treeless tundra atop windswept Park Ridge where you will enjoy exceptional views of the Saskatchewan Glacier flowing out from the Columbia Icefield.
Trailhead to Parker Ridge
The trailhead for Parker Ridge is along the Icefield Parkway near the northern border of Banff National Park (see driving directions below). From the trailhead kiosk, follow the broad path heading south. Mount Athabasca (11,453-ft.) and Hilda Peak (10,032-ft.) rise to the west. The Hilda Glacier lies cradled in the small valley beneath the two peaks. Nigel Peak (10,535-ft.) towers above its namesake valley across the Icefield Parkway to the north.
Soon the trail turns southeast and starts ascending switchback through scattered trees. At 0.7 miles we leave the last of the trees behind and climb through alpine meadows with terrific views of the peak rising along the Icefield Parkway to the northwest. Look north to see the impressive cliff rising above Nigel Pass. Wildflowers grow amid the meadows along the trail. Please stay on the trail so that you don’t trample the fragile tundra.
The Saskatchewan Glacier springs into view as you crest the ridge at 1.3 miles. The view is partially blocked by the ridge. For the best views, follow the trail across the broad ridge crest and then descend to the overlook beneath the south side of the ridge.
From the overlook enjoy terrific views of the 8-mile long toe of the Saskatchewan Glacier flowing down the valley beneath the ridge. At the foot of the glacier is a large turquoise meltwater pond. Beyond the foot of the glacier the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River cut a meandering path along the outwash plain, filled with debris from the receding glacier. Across the valley, the Big Bend Peak (9,199-ft.) massif towers over the outwash plain while the ice-capped summit of Mount Saskatchewan is seen in the distance. To the southeast Castleguard Mountain (10,096-ft.) rises above the head of the Saskatchewan Glacier where it flows out of the Columbia Icefield.
When you are done soaking in the views, retrace your steps to the trailhead.
From Lake Louise, AB, Canada: Head north on the Trans-Canada Highway AB-1 N for 1.5 miles and then take the Icefields Parkway (AB-93 N) exit toward Jasper and Rocky Mountain House. Follow AB-93 for 72.7 miles and turn left into the Parker Ridge trailhead parking lot, located along the west side of the Icefield Parkway.
From Banff, AB, Canada: Head north on the Trans-Canada Highway AB-1 N for 1.5 miles and then take the Icefields Parkway (AB-93 N) exit toward Jasper and Rocky Mountain House. Follow AB-93 for 72.7 miles and turn left into the Parker Ridge trailhead parking lot, located along the west side of the Icefield Parkway.
From Jasper, AB, Canada: Drive south on the Icefields Parkway (AB-93 S) for 68.7 miles and turn right into the Parker Ridge trailhead parking lot, located along the west side of the Icefield Parkway.
The Canadian Rockies
Other Hiking Regions in:
Alberta / British Columbia