Contributed by David Sellars
Location: Banff National Park
Round trip: 5-8 km
Start elevation: 2000 m
Final Elevation: 2300 m
Maps: 1:50,000 series 83C/3
On the Icefields Parkway drive to the parking lot on the west side of the highway 4 km south of Sunwapta Pass. The trail heads up the north side of Parker Ridge on open slopes directly from the parking lot.
PARTIAL PLANT LIST
This can be a very short hike but it is all above treeline and there is an exceptional variety of mountain flora to be seen. The top of Parker Ridge is gained in less than an hour and you can wander up the broad ridge towards Mount Athabasca. The ridge has a varied plant habitat ranging from rocky slopes to marshy areas. Saxifraga lyallii and Saxifraga oppositifolia are common as well as a number of different gentians. On the way back it is worthwhile following the crowds to a viewpoint overlooking the Saskatchewan Glacier. Look out for drifts of Androsace chaemajasme in the meadows en route.
Androsace chamaejasme forms loose tufts, close mats or cushions. The leaf surfaces are covered with short silky hairs. On Parker Ridge it can be found growing in drifts in rocky meadow areas on the south side of the ridge crest.
It does well in cultivation and can cover itself with bloom on a scree bed in the open garden.