During a mid-week peak bagging expedition with my wife near Jasper, trying to round out all the scramble objectives in Kane’s Canadian Rockies Scrambles book, we stumbled on Cinquefoil Mountain. Despite being one of the easier objectives in Kane’s book, Cinquefoil is not without merit. Named after the alpine flowering plant of the same name, Cinquefoil’s lower west flank is blessed with one of the richest (from a big horns perspective) open alpine meadows in all of Jasper National Park. This approach slope is so unique that it reminds you more of Ireland than Canada.
Lichen covered rock croppings dot the landscape where big horn sheep and even mountain goats frequent the area. There are few objectives in the Canadian Rockies where you can avoid trees on the ascent as easily as you can Cinquefoil. Its western grassy slopes connect along its ridge line half way up the mountain without ever having to enter the trees.
Once you reach its true summit (a short scree ascent beyond a vegetated false summit), you will notice that Cinquefoil Mountain is nothing more than the start of a long extended ridge line in the Jacques Range. This is no doubt one of the earlier objectives local residents can access in the spring.
Park at the Merlin Pass trailhead (24kms east of Jasper) which was not marked in 2012. It is a small trailhead just east of a double pullout trailhead area used for Hawk Mountain. It is located right before you see a small lake on your right. The trail itself is hard to spot unless you actually get out of your car and walk around a bit. This marshy area has the appearance of a miniature rain forest. Follow the trail into the brush southward. Follow the trail left around the north end of a small lake. A bridge crossing along this trail at the lake outlet was washed out in 2012 due to an unusually wet spring and summer. We negotiated logs, bushwhacked, etc. to reach the other side of the outlet. As you circumvent the lake, the bush opens up and you continue east for the lower grassy slopes of Cinquefoil. Fairly quickly you make a nice sheep/scramblers trail up the slope to the ridge proper.
When to ClimbDue to its low elevation as far as Canadian Rockies scrambles go and its location on the front range of Jasper, Cinquefoil Mountain is a good early or late objective. May through October.
Red TapeYou are in Jasper National Park and will need a national park pass to access this area. The closest camping is Pocahontas on the Miette Hot Springs road, which offers nice sites actually, way better than the crowded camp sites back in Jasper.
External LinksMost inclusive first-hand knowledge and accounts of Canadian Rockies Scrambles on the Internet
Jasper National Park, Parks Canada
Cocos Café, my personal favorite place to grab a coffee or bite