Jasper National Park is a hikers paradise. Some of the most beautiful hikes in Canada can be found right here in Jasper. While nearby Banff is a very popular spot for hiking, Jasper offers some of the most underrated hikes in Alberta. The Valley of the five lakes hike is one of many stunning trails in Jasper and the perfect hike to suit any visitor.
As the name suggests the Valley of the Five Lakes features five stunningly blue lakes. This hike is one of the most popular in Jasper National Park because it’s a fairly easy trail suitable for most fitness levels. The views are a massive reward for what is a moderate hike with little effort.
That’s not to say that this hike is incredibly easy. You’ll still need your basic hiking gear and ten essentials. There are still some steep parts of this hike so you’ll still get a bit of a workout, but the steep sections are short and sweet.
Much of the trail is shaded by trees which is great for keeping cool during the summer months, but there are some areas that are exposed to the elements and sun. The terrain is fairly flat and gradual throughout the hike, with a few areas that are uneven with exposed tree roots.
Valley of the Five Lakes Hike Stats
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Round Trip Time: 2 – 3 Hours
Elevation Gain: 162 metres
Dog Friendly: Yes
Public Transit: No
Location: Jasper National Park
Planning more hiking adventures in Canada? Check out these other guides!
- 16 Best Hikes in Banff National Park
- Best Hike In Whistler
- Cirque Lake Hike, Whistler
- Wedgemount Lake Hike in Whistler
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Getting To The Valley of the Five Lakes Trailhead
The parking lot for the Valley of the Five Lakes trailhead is situated along the Icefields Parkway so you will need to drive south of Jasper towards Banff for around 10-15 minutes until you see signs for the trailhead. Turn in left to the trailhead. The parking lot is well-maintained and fairly big so be prepared for a busy hike.
In 2016 Parks Canada made major updates to the Valley of the Five Lakes area. The parking lot was expanded to hold 83 vehicles and 11 RV’s from the previous total of just 33 vehicles. Multiple picnic tables have been added to the parking lot area with more outhouse facilities.
On top of this, several docks were added to the lakes to enhance experiences, with several log benches along the trail, and the addition of boats that can be rented prior to embarking on the hike.
When To Hike Valley of the 5 Lakes
The best time to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes is early in the morning, the earlier the better. Jasper can get very warm in the summer so the cooler temps will make this hike much more enjoyable.
If you arrive in the early morning, the lakes are calmer and therefore much more stunning. Each of the 5 lakes has a slightly different hue, some are bluer than others while some are deep shades of green.
The biggest attraction of this hike is of course the five lakes. While I enjoy hiking in general, the goal on this hike was to the see the lakes up close for myself. I also wanted to enjoy the trail with as less people as possible so going early and taking the shorter route was a no brainer.
Valley of the Five Lakes Hike
The trail starts in the forest before coming to a narrow boardwalk that sits just above the Wabaso Creek. The boardwalk is only wide enough for one person at a time, however there are step out points so you can step aside and let others pass. After passing over the boardwalk you’ll come to a wide open meadow with an information board. From here you’ll get to choose which route you want to take.
For the longer route, head left, and for the shorter loop, continue ahead. If you do choose to go left, this is the longer trail and will be a while before you see any of the lakes.
Continue for a few minutes where you will once again come to a fork in the trail. This is the start of the short loop where you’ll get to choose clockwise or counter clockwise – This route is the same distance both ways.
A few minutes after taking the counter clockwise loop, you’ll start to see glimpses of green water – this is just a pond. A beautiful pond no doubt but this is not one of the 5 lakes and there is no real lookout point here.
The first lake you come to when doing the hike in reverse is going to be Fifth Lake, this is the second largest lake on the hike and seriously breathtaking on a clear day. There is a bench to sit and take in the view and a dock that extends out into the lake. You’ll also notice a boat docked here, this is chained but can be rented beforehand. I really wish I had known this because this lake was so calm and clear on the day I visited.
Take A Snap At The Famous Red Chairs
To get to the famous red chairs you’ll pass by Fourth Lake and arrive at Third Lake. This is where you’ll find the chairs but they are kind of tucked away and not situated on the mail trail. Download the map from the Alltrails app to make sure you don’t miss these! You’ll have to venture off the trail for a few minutes to find them. The red chairs make for a great photo opportunity and look out onto the deep blue colours of Third Lake.
After making it to Second Lake, the last lake on this loop is First Lake, the biggest of all the 5 lakes. This is quite possibly the most beautiful of the five, and you’re sure to find a spot to enjoy it all to yourself.
By the time I reached First Lake, I was pretty hot and worn out from the heat so I only explored a small portion of this lake. But if you do have the time and energy it is more than worth it to continue walking around its shorelines to enjoy the views from every angle.
What To Bring On The Valley Of The 5 Lakes Hike?
The Valley of the 5 Lakes is a hike that almost anyone can do. There are no technical aspects to this hike. However there are a few things you will want to bring.
- First Aid Kit – Whether you are attempting an easy hike or not, falls and accidents can happen at any time. This trail does have a lot of Rooty sections where it is uneven. Always bring a first aid kit just in case!
- Hydration – Hydration is always important on any hike. I did this hike on one of the hottest days in Jasper and the heat added to the tiredness of hiking. A refillable water bottle or water bladder. I find having a water bladder to be a better option on hikes since I don’t need to stop to get anything out of my backpack.
- Snacks – I don’t go anywhere without snacks and the same goes for hiking. Snacks are a good for maintaining energy levels and who enjoys being hangry on a hiking trail? Not me!
- Camera – You will definitely want a good camera for this hike. With lakes as stunning as this you may spend a while taking photographs.
- Sunscreen/UV Protection – Even though much of the trail is shaded by trees there is still areas that are exposed. A cap and sunscreen is a must on this hike during the summer.
- Picnic – This is optional. The easiness of this trail makes this a good option after you finish your hike. There are a few picnic benches in the parking lot area so you could indulge in a picnic after you return from your hike.
While the Valley of the Five Lakes is a very popular hike in Jasper National Park, it certainly is worth it. Make the most of this hike by arriving early before the crowds roll in and before it starts to heat up. This is great for everyone including families and those with little to no hiking experience. It’s also a great option if you’ve completed a big hike the day before and want to slow things down a little!
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