How To Hike The Valley of the Five Lakes In Jasper

The Valley of the Five Lakes offers a pleasant and easy hike that passes by five lakes of different colors. Its accessibility and stunning views make it a quintessential hike in Jasper National Park. It’s a great hike for a relaxed afternoon or morning in nature.

The trail is a loop with options that range from 3km to 9km. The ability to adjust the length and minimal elevation gain makes it suitable for everyone. It’s great as the hike allows hikers to adjust to their preferences and abilities. To see all five lakes requires a full loop of around five kilometers.

How To Hike The Valley Of The Five Lakes

Key Points

Infographic for hike length

3-9 km

Infographic For Hike duration

1-3 hours

Infographic For Hike Elevation Gain

+100 meters

Infographic for difficulty of hike


Infographic For Trailhead

Valley Of The Five Lakes Trailhead Parking Lot

Where Is The Valley Of The Five Lakes?

Valley Of The Five Lakes Pier Jasper

The trailhead to the Valley Of The Five Lakes is five kilometers south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. On average, it’s a short ten-minute drive to the trailhead, where there is a large parking lot.

There are signs for the Valley Of The Five Lakes Trailhead, so it’s easy to find. The parking lot generally has ample space for hikers, but it can fill up quickly on busy weekends, so it’s best to plan ahead. You can find the location on a GPS here.

When Is the Best Time To Hike The Valley Of The Five Lakes?

The Valley Of The Five Lakes is a year-round hiking destination. We think the best time to hike to the lakes is from the mid-summer to fall, July to the end of September. The lakes are possible to visit in the winter, but it will be for the chance to enjoy nature and views of the surrounding valley as the lakes will be frozen.

They typically thaw in the late spring but will be at their lowest water levels during this period. As the snowpack in the mountains melts and fills the lakes, they’ll be at their highest and most brilliant around July. Some foliage provides fall colors at the end of September, but you can find no vivid larch trees.

Valley Of The Five Lakes Hike Route Description

valley of the five lakes trail in jasper

The Valley of the Five Lakes hike is moderately easy, but it does have a few steep sections requiring caution, particularly if you have young children or have limited mobility. As with any hike in the Rockies, bears are common once the berry bushes in the area ripen. It’s always best to be prepared for any Canadian Rockies hike.

Natasha On The Trail On The Valley Of Five Lakes

Along the hike, you’ll see five pristine sub-alpine lakes that vary in vibrant jade and blue hues. As you reach the lakeshores, you’ll be treated to landscape views of the surrounding mountain peaks. It’s a stunning scene and the perfect spot to unwind in Jasper National Park without much work or isolation.

Parking Lot At Valley Of Five Lakes

The hike starts from the trailhead parking lot with long drop toilets, trash bins, and signage that includes a trail map and information on the area. If you do not have a GPS, we suggest taking a photo of the trail map on your phone for reference. Parks Canada has done a good job signing the trails around the lake, a rarity in the Rockies.

Start Of The Valley Of Five Lakes

Begin from the parking lot and follow the wide path through the forest. Continue along the obvious trail, crossing the Wabasso Creek Bridge. The longest hike option is to take a long loop around the first lake. It will be the first trail on your left once you cross the bridge.

The Bridge On The Valley Of Five Lakes Hike

The classic route continues up the hill once over the bridge through switchbacks that mitigate the hill’s steepness. Erosion has been an issue here, so be mindful of your steps. At the top of the hill lies a trail junction. The classic route is to take a left and make a clockwise loop hike. This will lead to the first lake, which offers a limited view, so proceed to the second for an improved panorama.

The third and fourth lakes are considered the most beautiful, making them ideal for capturing memorable photos. After the fifth lake, the trail returns to the junction. Descend via switchbacks, cross the creek bridge, and navigate through the forest until you reach the parking lot.

Lake On The Valley Of Five Lakes

Gear We Recommend For The Valley Of The Five Lakes Hike

Women's Merrell Moab II

Merrell Moab III

Many hikers will enjoy the security, comfort, and value in the Merrell Moab II. It’s a great beginner hiking boot.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Peak Design Capture Clip

PD Capture Clip

This nifty clip from Peak Design secures a camera to my backpack strap for easy reach. No more digging in the backpack!

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail.

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much cell service in the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.

How Long Does The Valley Of The Five Lakes Take?

Natasha On The Valley Of Five Lakes

The duration varies as there are several options and routes for a hike through the Valley of the Five Lakes. The classic 4.8 km loop takes around one to three hours. As it’s a series of five lakes, there are plenty of places to stop and relax along the trail.

The Parks Canada red chairs between the third and fourth lakes are most notable. On a hot summer day, going for a brisk swim in the fourth and fifth lakes is possible if you’re brave.

How Hard is The Valley of the Five Lakes Trail?

The Valley Of The Five Lakes Colors

It’s one of the easiest trails in Jasper National Park as it’s a short loop, and the elevation gain is minimal. The trail is a little rocky, and the short uphill section is fairly steep, which may be a slight challenge for those with limited mobility.

How Busy is the Valley Of The Five Lakes Hike?

Water Valley Of The Five Lakes Jasper

The Valley Of The Five Lakes is the busiest trail in Jasper National Park. There’s still plenty of space on the trail for everyone in the parking lot, so it never feels too busy. Because parking is limited, planning your hike around off-peak weekend hours is a good idea.

Is the Hike Suitable for Dogs and Kids?

Yes, the hike is perfect for kids and dogs. Please remember that all pets must be on the leash anywhere in the park. As the trail is busy and narrow, we recommend the hike for animals comfortable around strangers and other dogs.

Valley Of The Five Lakes In Winter

Spring Valley Of The Five Lakes

It is possible to hike in the winter; however, the lakes will be frozen. Many of the elements of the trail are also subject to icy conditions as it is largely in a shaded forest. There are likely better winter hikes in Jasper, such as the Maligne Canyon Hike and Sunwapta Falls.

Wildlife Awareness On The Valley Of The Five Lakes Trail

Valley Of The Five Lakes

You’re unlikely to encounter bears on this train; however, they have been spotted and frequent the lakes due to the fruit around them. We recommend all hikers have bear spray anywhere in the Rockies. You can read more of our tips for hiking in bear country.

Other Hikes In Jasper To Consider

Maligne Canyon Hike

Maligne Canyon, Whistlers Summit off the Jasper SkyTram, Path Of The Glacier, Sunwapta Falls, and the Moose Lake Loop are easy hikes in Jasper that are a great alternative or addition to the Valley of The Five Lakes.

Our Top Recommended Jasper Tours

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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