Hike to the Summit of Parker Ridge

Canada Parker Ridge Trailhead

Added by Nate Luebbe

A short but strenuous hike is rewarded with views of jagged rocky peaks and the largest icefield in Canada. 

While the drive from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway is astoundingly beautiful, it's long enough to make even the most seasoned roadwarrior crave the chance to stretch their legs.  At almost the exact halfway point on the lengthy drive lies Parker Ridge, a short but fairly steep hike right at the base of Mount Andromeda. The summit awards expansive views of Mount Athabasca, Andromeda and massive glaciers fed by the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in North America south of the Arctic Circle. 

The trail starts at a fairly obvious parking lot on the west side of the Icefields Parkway, just south of the Athabasca Glacier Visitors' Center. The hike begins at a manageable 6500 feet (~2000m) in elevation and climbs roughly 1000 feet (~305m) over the next 1.7 miles (2.8km) to the summit. The first mile is comprised of steep switchbacks up through a beautiful montane forest. There are many small footpaths off to the side allowing for shortcuts, but please be respectful of the fragile ecosystem and stay on the trail. As you ascend, a beautiful band of krummholz pines line the trail and you'll break past treeline shortly after. The last mile or so is a nicely maintained trail up a steep, but reasonable section of tundra. The summit is in view the entire time from this point and navigation is extremely easy. 

When I went the trail was very muddy, owing to massive snow and ice fields nearby. Despite the mud, the trail is very well marked and maintained, and anyone in reasonable shape will have no problem with this hike. 

The top of the standard trail is in a small saddle between two slightly larger hills.  A variety of very short and easy trails wind around these hills and are absolutely worth exploring. 15 minutes of hiking in any direction can offer expansive panoramic views of rocky peaks, and breathtaking glaciers. 

Pack List

  • Hiking or walking shoes
  • Extra clothing (rain/cold weather)
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
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Activities:

Chillin, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

5.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1000 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Best effort to reward ratio of all time!

This short hike brings you to a ridgeline that provides incredible views of the surrounding jagged peaks and glaciers. It is one of the most incredible hikes I have ever done. Highly recommend!

4 months ago

Added by Nate Luebbe

A self taught photographer and lifelong explorer of the outdoors. Avid environmentalist, conservationist, and raconteur of experiences.

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