Verdant Pass {Jasper National Park}

Verdant Pass {Jasper National Park}

Verdant Pass

  • Distance – 22.5 km roundtrip (or more – depending on how much exploring you do)
  • Elevation – 665 meters (or more – depending on how much exploring you do)
  • Difficulty – Medium to Hard
  • TrailheadTonqin Valley Trailhead
  • Logistics – Narrow, tight/unmaintained trail at times; some route-finding skills necessary once in the pass

Jasper is just four hours from my house, but it isn’t a place I often visit. Most mountain-filled weekends are spent in the Kananaskis, Banff, Lake Louise, or Yoho, mostly because of the sheer amount of things there are to do there compared to Jasper.

Seeing how I hadn’t been to Jasper in nearly two years and I needed a change of scenery after 7 consecutive weekends in a row in K-Country, Banff, and Louise, I found myself planning a weekend of hiking in Jasper. My Google Map of options is a bit sparse in the Jasper area, so I went to the interwebs to find options to add to my list. While brainstorming some good day hikes (requirements –> 15+ km and not just straight up the mountains without a switchback in sight – I am a woman who needs to be able to breathe while hiking!), the Verdant Pass hike found its way on my radar.

After some initial Googleage and reading about the hike from Speedy’s ‘Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies book, it went on the agenda for Saturday. After all, for the last two years, the road to Edith Cavell has been closed as they were repaving it and making the parking lot bigger. Needless to say, getting to this hike has been somewhat impossible for awhile.

Another thing that I loved about Verdant Pass hike when I was reading about it is that it isn’t well known. It is a glorious thing to be able to have a beautiful place all to yourself. I love a hidden gem of a hike!

Hiking Details.

Getting to the trailhead isn’t complex, but you will want to get there early. The Verdant Pass trailhead is the same trailhead for Tonquin Valley, which is a rather busy place.

How to get to the trailhead (38 minutes from Jasper townsite)

  1. Take Highway 93 south from Highway 16 for 6.7 km.
  2. Turn right on Highway 93A – drive for 5.2 km.
  3. Turn right on the Edith Cavell road and drive another 12.3 km
  4. Park on your right at the Tonquin Vally trailhead. If the lot is full (it is small), continue up the road a few meters and see if there is a spot at the wide spot in the road. Please be courteous and park at a 90-degree angle to allow for the most cars possible.

**If you reach the Edith Cavell parking lot, you have gone too far.**

Grab all your gear and head down the trail and hike for 4.5 km.

Thie first 4.5 km is part of the Tonquin Vally trail and has very little elevation, in fact, you lose elevation! This first part of the hike is easy and doesn’t require much effort. Keep your eyes peeled as the trail to Verdant Pass is narrow and easily missed. On my watch, it came up at 4.5 km but the Copelands stated it was at 4 km. As soon as you’ve hiked 3.75 km, start watching as everyone’s watch is slightly different and no one starts their Garmin at the same spot.

Verdant Pass - start of the trail
The trail to Tonquin is so wide and flat that you can do your morning lunges as you hike!

When you see a trail on your left around the 4 km mark, take it and start climbing! This is your trail!

When we hiked it, there was a narrow wooden sign that had ‘Verdant’ carved into it laying on the ground next to the trail. It is a narrow, rooty, and uphill trail.

start of verdant pass from tonquin valley
Yes, yes … this is the start of the trail. Easy to miss if you are over-caffeinated and chatting

For the next 3 km (not exactly sure about the distance as my watch has an autopause feature that pauses when I climb – drives me crazy!) you are going to wind up the mountain and battle roots, rocks, and trees. The trail is not wide and is overgrown in some places. The climb starts out steady but is manageable.

verdant pass
The views after about 3 km of gnarly hiking in the trees.

After a few clear vantage points of the mountains, you turn left and head straight up the mountain. This is one of those sections of trail where my watch refuses to work as I am making basically zero distance as it is all uphill.

At the top of the climb, you reach a rockfall of Gog Quartize with some massive rocks which is a great place for a snack, water, and some rest.

verdant pass
Gorgeous views start here!

Continue up the trail and cross a stream. The most visible trail veers left. Go ahead and take it, but it ends rather quickly in an amphitheatre of the backside of Mount Edith Cavell. Behind you, the views of the Hooker Icefield dominate your sight.

At this point, exploration becomes up to you.

We went down the pass to the first tarn. As we continued, a trail on our right became visible. This is the trail through the rest of the valley. Drop down to connect with it and follow it for as long as you want; the tarns, rock falls, views, and tussock covered hills seem to be never-ending. you start to lose elevation as you explore, so be aware that you will have to climb back up before you start to climb back down!

verdant pass
The views keep calling you forward … don’t lose track of where you are!
backside of edith cavell with a tarn
One of the many beautiful tarns!
edith cavell mountain
To have such a beautiful place to yourself truly is a treat!

When you’ve had your fill, turn back and go home the way you came.

This is definitely a great way to spend a day if you find yourself in the Jasper area. Just be prepared for a stretch of 3 km of gnarly trail and a lot, I mean A LOT, of mosquitoes and horseflies!

If the trail up was a bit better, I would give it 8 stars, but because of the gnarly trail and swarming insects, it gets a 7 out of 10.

Let me know if you’ve done the Verdant Pass hike! I would love to hear your opinion!

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