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Wilcox Viewpoint Hike via Wilcox Pass Trail- Jasper National Park

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Wilcox Pass Trail is one of the most beautiful and satisfying day hikes in Jasper National Park. The trail offers spectacular views of the glaciated peaks around the Columbia Icefield as it passes through alpine meadows on route to Wilcox Pass and the Wilcox Viewpoint across from Athabasca Glacier.

View of Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier from Wilcox Pass Trail.

Most people who embark on Wilcox Pass Trail choose to hike to the Wilcox Viewpoint on Wilcox Ridge, which is a worthy alternative to hiking the full length of the Wilcox Pass. The ridge overlooks the Icefields Parkway and is one of the best vantage points for admiring the Athabasca Glacier.

View from Wilcox Viewpoint- Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier.

Wilcox Viewpoint Hike via Wilcox Pass Trail

Distance: 9.5 km round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 380 m

Surface: Packed dirt, sections with exposed rocks and gravel

Trail Type: Out and back

Time: 3.5- 5 hours

Trailhead: Wilcox Creek Campground access road off the Icefields Parkway.

Track log/map of the trail to Wilcox Viewpoint
Track log/map of the trail to Wilcox Viewpoint

The hike to Wilcox Viewpoint starts from a small parking area just off the Icefields Parkway, on the road to Wilcox Creek Campground. At the trailhead you’ll see a board with some brief information about Wilcox Pass.

Parking at the Wilcox Pass trailhead.
Wilcox Pass trailhead.

After embarking on Wilcox Pass Trail, you’ll almost immediately begin climbing through a mature subalpine forest. This first section can be challenging for some because the trail gains over 100 m in less than 1 km, plus you’re starting from a high elevation of 2040 m, so it takes less effort to feel out of breath.

Trail heading into the forest.

As you make your way through the forest you’ll encounter some places where the trail has eroded to expose a web of tree roots. It’s kind of neat to see what’s normally hidden beneath the surface, but it’s definitely a tripping hazard.

Exposed tree roots on the trail.

Next you’ll come to a short wooden bridge and set of stairs that cross over a moss-covered hillside.

Trail leading up to a wooden bridge.
Wooden bridge and stairs.

The trail is sheltered for a little while longer, but soon exits the forest to reveal views of Snow Dome and Dome Glacier ahead in the distance.

Trail about to exit the forest.
Wilcox Pass Trail with Dome Glacier in the background.
Snow Dome and Dome Glacier in the distance.

As you follow the trail up and along the ridge there are many beautiful views of the mountains across the Icefields Parkway. As nice as the scenery is, it’s only going to get better the further along the trail you go.

Snow Dome and Dome Glacier in the distance.
The Icefields Parkway and Dome Glacier.

Continuing on, the grade moderates and the trail briefly re-enters the trees before once again traversing along the open ridge. You can now see Athabasca Glacier spilling down from the Columbia Icefield.

Trail framed by short spruce trees.
Wilcox Pass Trail with Athabasca Glacier in the distance.
Wilcox Pass Trail with Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier in the distance.
Left: Athabasca Glacier, Right: Dome Glacier

About 1.7 km into the hike on Wilcox Pass Trail you’ll arrive at a set of Parks Canada’s red chairs. From this lower viewpoint you can admire Athabasca Glacier, Dome Glacier, and Mount Athabasca.

Parks Canada's red chairs on Wilcox Pass Trail.
Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier seen from Wilcox Pass Trail.

While the view at the red chairs great, there’s a much more spectacular panorama at the higher Wilcox Viewpoint (plus some seriously gorgeous scenery on route). If you’re prepared for a longer hike continue on Wilcox Pass Trail, if not you can turn around here.

Vegetation along Wilcox Pass Trail.

After the chairs, the trail curves north and begins climbing alongside a deep gully with a creek. Meadows and short conifer trees surround the path allowing for clear views of the Athabasca and Dome glaciers.

Rocky gully.
View of Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier from Wilcox Pass Trail.
Zoomed in picture of Dome Glacier.
Dome Glacier

The next section of trail gently winds northwest through open meadows on the east side of the gully, gaining elevation as it goes. There are wide views of Mount Athabasca and Mount Andromeda, the Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome and Dome Glacier, and Mount Kitchener.

Gully beside Wilcox Pass Trail.
Meadows backed by mountains and glaciers.
Left to Right: Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda, Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome, Dome Glacier, Mount Kitchener

It’s tempting to stop every few minutes because even a slightly different perspective of the peaks and glaciers somehow seems more beautiful than just a couple metres back. It’s worth it not to rush the journey on Wilcox Pass Trail because the alpine scenery undoubtedly deserves to be savoured.

Meadows with Dome Glacier in the background.
Meadows with Snow Dome and Dome Glacier in the background.

As you continue your hike, eventually the trail levels out starts to heads towards Wilcox Pass. Mount Wilcox comes into view straight ahead and the long cliffs of Nigel Peak loom to the east.

Trail leading towards Wilcox Pass and Mount Wilcox.
The cliffs of Nigel Peak.

You’ll want to keep a lookout for bighorn sheep on this stretch because they’re often grazing in the meadows by the creek.

Bighorn sheep in a meadow by Wilcox Pass.
Bighorn sheep grazing beside a stream.

As you proceed towards Wilcox Pass, the southeast ridge of Mount Wilcox partially obstructs the Athabasca and Dome glaciers, but the glacier-capped peak of Mount Athabasca is still on full display.

Mount Athabasca and Wilcox Pass Trail.

Continue following the trail until you reach a green sign marking Wilcox Pass (elevation 2370 m). If you want to hike through Wilcox Pass you would go straight here on the unmaintained “wilderness route” to Tangle Creek and Tangle Creek Falls. To get to the Wilcox Viewpoint you need to turn left towards Wilcox Ridge.

Trail sign pointing towards Wilcox Ridge.
1.4 km to Wilcox Ridge

Heading left at the sign, the path becomes somewhat lost in the rocky landscape, but ahead there will be yellow trail blazes attached to rock piles that guide the way.

Rocky trail on route to Wilcox Ridge.
Yellow trail marker and cairn.

The final section of this hike passes through an undulating terrain of rock and sparse meadows as the trail leads towards the icefield. Mount Athabasca looks stunning ahead, but if you stop to look behind you there’s a great view of Nigel Peak.  

Hiking to Wilcox Viewpoint.
Rocky trail with Nigel Peak in the background.
Nigel Peak

At one point the land flattens and Athabasca Glacier and Dome Glacier are partially exposed, but then the trail dips down to conceal them again.

Flat trail leading towards Wilcox Viewpoint.
Trail leading towards Mount Athabasca.
Mount Athabasca

At the top of the last hill you’ll arrive at Wilcox Viewpoint and be greeted with an expansive view of the peaks and glaciers of the Columbia Icefield. Mount Athabasca and Mount Andromeda are on the left towering over Athabasca Glacier. On the right, Dome Glacier covers the slopes between Snow Dome and Mount Kitchener. A large meltwater pond sits near the base of Athabasca Glacier.

View from Wilcox Viewpoint- Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda, Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome, and Dome Glacier.
Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda and Athabasca Glacier.
Athabasca Glacier, Snow Dome, and Dome Glacier.

Since this viewpoint on Wilcox Ridge is directly above the Columbia Icefield Centre, you’ll also be able to see the packed parking lot and roads that the Ice Explorer all-terrain vehicles drive to take tourists to Athabasca Glacier.

View from Wilcox Viewpoint- Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.

Wilcox Viewpoint is a great place to enjoy lunch and there’s a lot of space for people to spread out along the ridge to admire the view. If you want to hike a little further along the ridge towards Mount Wilcox on your right, you can enjoy some slightly different views of the icefield.

View from Wilcox Ridge- Snow Dome and Dome Glacier.

After your time at Wilcox Viewpoint, to get back to the trailhead simply follow the same trail you came in on. Just like before, there are many impressive views of mountains, meadows, glaciers, and valleys encouraging you to slow down and revel in the natural beauty of Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking Wilcox Pass Trail
Meadows along Wilcox Pass Trail.
Wilcox Pass Trail.

Review of the Wilcox Viewpoint Hike

The magnificent scenery along Wilcox Pass Trail makes the Wilcox Viewpoint hike one of the must-do hikes along the Icefields Parkway.

Stream near Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass.

Hiking this route is a more active way to enjoy views of the Athabasca Glacier, instead of visiting the crowded Columbia Icefield Centre. During the hike you get to see so many different perspectives of the peaks and glaciers, plus pretty meadows and possibly a herd of bighorn sheep, that it’s sure to be a fulfilling experience.

Wilcox Pass Trail, Mount Athabasca  and Athabasca Glacier.
Bighorn sheep near Wilcox Pass.

Even though this hike is considered only moderately difficult for the average hiker, it might take you longer than you think because the scenery is so alluring it practically begs you to take your time.

Meadows backed by mountains and glaciers.

In addition to the grand views, another great thing about this trail is its central location on the Icefields Parkway. Since it’s located so close to the boundary of Jasper and Banff national parks, it’s well positioned for visitors staying in Jasper or Lake Louise. Being central on the Icefields Parkway also means that most people will have to drive over an hour from the nearest towns to get there, so the trail is not as busy (especially in the morning) as other popular hikes in the Rockies.

Wilcox Pass Trail with Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.

Pictures of Wilcox Pass Trail

Here are a few more pictures of the hike to Wilcox Viewpoint.

Trail in the forest.
Forested trail at the start of the hike
Wilcox Pass Trail and Athabasca Glacier.
Trail exits the forest to reveal views of Athabasca Glacier
Wilcox Pass Trail above the Icefields Parkway.
Hiking along a ridge above the Icefields Parkway
Wilcox Pass Trail above the Icefields Parkway.
The Icefields Parkway and Dome Glacier can be seen from the trail
Steep gully with mountains and glaciers in the background.
The trail passes by a steep gully
Trail passing through meadows.
Hiking through the meadows
Wilcox Pass Trail with Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.
Looking back at a great view of Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier
Wilcox Pass Trail with Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.
Wilcox Pass Trail and Mount Wilcox.
Path leading towards Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass
Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.
Mount Athabasca and a partial view of Athabasca Glacier are seen while hiking to Wilcox Pass
Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass Trail.
Wilcox Pass Trail and Mount Wilcox
Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass Trail.
Meadow, stream, and Mount Wilcox.
Bighorn sheep like to graze in this meadow near Mount Wilcox.
Stream with Mount Athabasca in the background.
Mount Athabasca
Wilcox Pass.
Looking towards Wilcox Pass
Mount Wilcox.
Mount Wilcox and the rocky trail to Wilcox Ridge
Glimpse of Dome Glacier from the trail to Wilcox Viewpoint.
Glimpse of Dome Glacier from the trail to Wilcox Viewpoint
Snow-capped Mount Athabasca.
Mount Athabasca
Hiker admiring Mount Athabasca.
Stopping to admire Mount Athabasca on the way to Wilcox Viewpoint
Stream and rocky meadows.
Rocky meadows seen while looking in the direction of the trailhead
Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass.
Mount Wilcox and Wilcox Pass
Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier as seen from Wilcox Viewpoint.
Wilcox Viewpoint
Trail running alongside the cliffs of Nigel Peak.
Trail running alongside the cliffs of Nigel Peak back towards the trailhead
Bighorn sheep.
Bighorn sheep
Bighorn sheep.
Bighorn sheep in front of Mount Wilcox.
Bighorn sheep in front of Mount Wilcox
Wilcox Pass Trail with Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier.
Great view of Mount Athabasca and Athabasca Glacier on the return hike
Meadows along the trail.
Meadows along the trail
Meadows along the trail.
Hiking Wilcox Pass Trail.
Hiking back to the trailhead
Meadows and small spruce trees backed by mountains.

Tips for Hiking Wilcox Pass Trail to Wilcox Ridge

Location: Wilcox Pass Trail is located at the south end of Jasper National Park, in between the Columbia Icefields Centre and the Wilcox Creek Campground, on the Icefields Parkway. It’s approximately 107 km from the town of Jasper and 126 km from Lake Louise village.

Getting to the Wilcox Pass Trailhead: The trailhead is accessed from the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). From Lake Louise, drive north on the parkway and from Jasper drive south. Turn off the highway at the entrance to the Wilcox Creek Campground. The parking lot for the trailhead will be on your left at the bend in the road.

Best Time to Hike to Wilcox Viewpoint: Wilcox Pass Trail is best hiked in the summer and early fall. If you plan to hike through the pass, note that this area can be snowy until late July.

Facilities: There’s an outhouse beside the parking lot at the trailhead. Food and drinks can be purchased nearby at the Columbia Icefield Centre.

Visitor Guidelines and Safety: This hike is in bear country so bring bear spray and know how to use it.

  • Stick to the obvious main trail to avoid trampling vegetation.
  • Do not approach the bighorn sheep and watch them from a safe distance.
  • Leave no trace by carrying out all your garbage.

What to Bring: Wear suitable hiking shoes/boots with a sturdy sole. Hiking poles are nice to have but not mandatory unless you have bad knees.

  • Dress in layers and bring rain gear because the weather can change quickly in the mountains. It also can be windy at the viewpoint.

Nearby Hikes and Places to Visit

You may also enjoy these nearby trails and places to visit:

These hikes are further away but still in Jasper National Park:

Accommodations in Jasper National Park

For your convenience, here is a list of HOTELS IN JASPER NATIONAL PARK. Please consider booking your Jasper accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!

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