Just a short six miles south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) is the very popular Valley of the Five Lakes hike. Five pretty turquoise to blue-green lakes nestled in the fir forest are visited. The trail is wide and relatively easy with a few short ups and downs for added interest. Viewing benches and two Red Chairs are along the way.
Valley of the Five Lakes Trail starts at its large trailhead sign in the northwest corner of the parking area, very near the toilets. One heads into the fir forest on a wide, well-maintained trail (also called Trail #9a
). A low ridge is crossed in the first half mile to arrive at small Wabasso Creek with its marshy banks. This creek is crossed on a boardwalk just above all the water.
The trail then climbs another low ridge and reaches a trail junction at the 0.7 mile mark. Going left at this trail junction takes one clockwise around this trail's loop (and onto Trail #9b
), as described here. One can also hike this trail by going right (staying on Trail #9a
) to circle the loop counter-clockwise.
Still in the fir forest after passing the trail junction, a short 0.3 miles more brings one to the southeast end of First Lake at the 1.0 mile mark. Almost immediately, another trail junction (with Trail #9a
) is reached. Go right at this trail junction to continue on Valley of the Five Lakes Trail. Going left takes one along the northeast side of the long, narrow First Lake, which is a nice option if one wants a longer hike.
Continuing on Valley of the Five Lakes Trail, very soon one comes to Second Lake, followed by Third Lake, then Fourth Lake, and finally Fifth Lake. These lakes are all to the right (southwest) of the trail in small depressions and close to each other. From the northwest end of Third Lake, one can see Fourth Lake behind Third Lake and mountains in the distance, which makes for a very nice view. Third Lake and Fourth Lake are separated by a narrow isthmus with the trail leading to the isthmus. Venturing further out on this isthmus and to the lakes' shores is popular. The two Red Chairs are also here, overlooking Third Lake, to sit and enjoy the view.
The northwest corner of Fifth Lake is reached at the 1.75 mile mark. Here Valley of the FIve Lakes Trail veers right and heads away from the lakes and back to the first trail junction. Stay to the left at this trail junction to cross back over the Wabasso Creek on the boardwalk, go over the first low ridge, and return to the parking area.