We hiked one of the most popular trails in Jasper National Park. Valley of the Five Lakes Trail took us through a series of gorgeous and colorful lakes. The hike could be done as a short (2.8 mi) or a longer (5.5 mi) loop.
The trailhead of Valley of the Five Lakes is only about 11 km (7 mi) from the town of Jasper. We arrived at the trailhead around 3:00 pm on Saturday. There were quite a few cars at the parking lot. After getting stuff together, we hit the trail. There were many other hikers at the beginning of the trail until we reached a main trail junction.
David and I did this hike clockwise (we turned left after coming to the main trail junction), unlike Matthew of The Adventures of a Day Hiker who, with his wife, did this hike counterclockwise. Matthew has eloquently written about his experience of the hike and the beauty of the Five Lakes. You should check him out.
As soon as we turned left at the trail junction, we were mostly by ourselves. It appeared almost everyone chose to either do a short loop or a longer loop counterclockwise. The first part of the loop was through meadows with a nice view of mountains.
Once we entered the forest, we had to stop to apply insect repellent as mosquitoes were in full force. The forest section was very interesting. The ground was covered with lots of moss, more moss than we have seen for quite some time.
The trail passed by an unnamed lake with dark coffee color. It’s not part of the Five Lakes, but good for a change in scenery. After a long section of dense forest, we emerged at First Lake. We had a quick stop for photo then continued to other lakes.
There was a narrow strip of land between Third and Fourth Lakes. It’s where an outlet stream of Fourth Lake turned into an inlet stream of Third Lake. We found a good spot to have lunch. The color of these lakes were mostly green to blue. The lakes situated in a very beautiful setting with snow-capped mountains in the background. They were prettier than I expected, which is always welcome.
After lunch we continued on the trail leaving Fourth Lake behind. The Fifth Lake was the last and the least impressive one. I could see a hint of green color of the lake. However, from the viewing area, the light reflected off from the water at an angle that did not show off its color.
After Fifth Lake, we returned to the trailhead. We noticed that the crowds were gone. During the last part of the hike after Fifth Lake, we saw only another family of three on the trail. We were back at the parking lot by 6:30 pm. There was still plenty of daylight left, so we decided to drive to Athabasca Falls, about 22 km (14 mi) down the road.
Bonus pictures of bears on the side of the road that we saw on that day
- Date hiked: June 17, 2017
- Hiking time: 3h 21m
- Distance: 5.4 mi round-trip (loop)
- Elevation change: Approx. 445 ft gain