The Jasper National Park is HUGE. It is so, so big, that no way were we even going to make the slightest of dents in the number of hikes that the park has to offer. We were in Jasper for only one full day, so our hiking opportunities were actually ridiculously limited. However we did our best to squeeze in what we could…
The first hike we did was Maligne Canyon. After driving from Kamloops earlier that day, we wanted something that was going to stretch out our legs, without being too strenuous. Maligne Canyon is one of those places that fills up early so arriving late afternoon was actually perfect, as it meant there were ample car parks to choose from. It was still pretty busy and very few people were following the one way system that was supposed to be in place due to Covid.
Parking at the main car park means you have to do some backtracking, which we didn’t realise. To avoid this, park near the 5th Bridge and walk upwards, meaning you can loop back down in a logical order. To avoid backtracking completely, we hiked up the hill running alongside the main path (it was also a well used trail, just slightly steeper) and we were glad we did, as it provided us with some outstanding views down the valley and over towards Jasper and beyond. It took us about 90 minutes in entirety, with lots of photography stops on the way.
The next morning we rose early to do the Valley of the Five Lakes Trail. My fear of not getting a car park meant our 8.30am arrival ensured us as one of the first cars there. Being first on the trail comes with the extra excitement/risk of encountering bears, so as we set out we were well armed with bear spray – fortunately it wasn’t required. The hike was another easy one, although slightly longer than Maligne Canyon. It was about 9km, completed in about 2.5 hours. We had heard that the fifth lake was the best for swimming, so we walked the lakes in order to ensure we arrived at the fifth last.
It was an incredibly scenic hike with lots of greenery and each lake seemed to be more clear than the one before. The number of bugs also seemed to quadruple with each lake, so by the time we got to the ‘swimming lake’ none of us were particularly keen to jump in. To be honest I actually had already made a brief entry into the first lake when I DROPPED MY PHONE into the water! Thankfully it’s waterproof, else the mood of the hike may have been very different. Instead of swimming, we cracked open a morning beer and just sat, swatting away bugs and appreciating our surroundings. The hike was located about 15 minutes onto the Icefield Parkway.
Although those were the only hikes we had time for, I had hoped to tick off a few more. I have a love-hate relationship with hiking, so all of the ones I had planned were shorter, easier hikes which meant that we could build up and do lots if we were that way inclined. Other hikes that I thought would be worth doing included the super short Pyramid Island hike (only 1km) and the Old Fort Point Trail. This trail is 3.8km long and takes about 90 minutes. It is walking distance from town and provides a good view of the township as well as some of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Next time!