Why You Must Visit the Valley of the Five Lakes
If you know about Alberta’s Jasper National Park, there’s a possibility that you’re a fan of the beautiful Valley of the Five Lakes. In fact, it’s quite possible that you only heard about Jasper National Park because of the Valley of the Five Lakes. After all, it’s arguably the best hiking trail that the national park has to offer, one which has almost become an emblem of pride and breathtaking beauty for the park itself.
For those of you who might not be familiar, the Valley of the Five Lakes is one of the most beautiful hiking spots of not only Jasper National Park but also all of Canada! It features five distinctly colored lakes with 3-9km of trails looping around each. The view of the Valley of the Five Lakes is not only scenic, but the hike is also quite forbearing. Thanks to its limited elevation gain, almost everyone enjoys the full run (read: slow, leisurely walk) around each one of the five lakes without experiencing excruciating exhaustion.
If lush meadows, coniferous forests, and the sound of chirping birds echoing off turquoise surfaces of lakes against the magnificent backdrop of mountains are not reasons enough for you to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes, then be prepared to be persuaded. We’ve complied a list of all the main reasons for why you must visit the Valley of the Five Lakes and we are quite confident that by the end of this article, you will be as thoroughly convinced as we are.
1. The Location is Highly Accessible
Unlike other trails and scenic spots in Alberta, one of the reasons why you should pick the Valley of the Five Lakes as your next getaway destination is because it’s conveniently situated.
Off the Icefields Parkway, the Valley of the Five Lakes trailhead is just 10 km south of Jasper, a town in Alberta after which the national park is named. This means that only 9 km along highway 93 and you will find yourself at the huge Valley of the Five Lakes parking lot.
Valley of the Five Lakes is also only 22 km away from Athabasca Falls. This means that you can also easily include it to your itinerary if you are planning a getaway to Banff and want to make sure you make the most out of your weekend.
The convenient location of the Valley of the Five Lakes means that you don’t have to go several extra miles to access its beauty, whether you are coming from the town of Jasper itself or Banff.
Even though the place is highly accessible, it’s worth noting that you will not be able to find any public transport or shuttle to take you to the trailhead. Therefore, you will either need to bring your own car or rent one. On the bright side, though, you don’t have to worry about parking if you secure your spot early in the morning. There is a huge parking lot for the Valley of the Five Lakes and you can put it to good use if you arrive before everyone else does (before 9 AM during peak summer season).
2. Valley of the Five Lakes Trail is Family-Friendly
For any family getaway or vacation to be successful, it has to appeal to everyone in the family, old or young. The thing about the Valley of the Five Lakes is that it’s very family-friendly which makes it the perfect location for everyone to reconnect with each other and rejuvenate together.
When hiking with family, it’s a given that your primary goal will be to ensure that everyone is comfortable and having a good time. The scenic beauty of the lush meadows and the forests coupled with the shimmering lake water will make sure that everyone is having a good time. It’s the comfort part which often gets tricky when hiking and trails and national parks are involved. But at the Valley of the Five Lakes, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Valley of the Five Lakes has two loop trails, a short one and a longer one. The shorter loop trail is only 5.5 km long while the longer loop covers a total distance of 9.5 km. This means that depending on the fitness and comfort level of your family, you can choose which loops serves you best and manage both enjoyment and comfort at once.
Furthermore, if you are planning to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes with children and elderly, you will be happy to know that there isn’t much of an elevation gain along the trail. Although you should expect a few ups and downs, the elevation gain along the long loop is hardly significant enough for it to cause much trouble. There is, however, a total of 100 m of elevation gain along the short loop. Overall, both the loops pose moderate difficulty with only a few uneven spots and steep uphill sections. Keeping the elevation and nature of each loop mind, Valley of the Five Lakes allows you to choose the trail which is the most convenient for your family.
It’s also worth noting that presence of two loops means you get to choose how much time you want to spend hiking. The long loop normally takes 4-5 hours to go around while the short loop typically takes only 2 hours. This time, of course, does not take into account the frequent selfie and rest breaks you might take along the way. Once you factor all of that in, you will have a good estimate of the time that it will take you to visit all five lakes. If you have a lot to explore in Jasper in one day, you might opt for the quick trail around all five lakes. But if you would like to take your time and fully immerse yourself in nature, you can choose the longer loop.
In terms of the time it might take and how difficult it might be to go around the five lakes, we think it’s a trade-off. But, at the end of the day, this means you get to have a choice and you will be able to accommodate the fitness level of all your family members by choosing the path which sounds the most feasible to you.
We think it’s extremely important to have this kind of flexibility and ease when going to hike or explore a national park. Therefore, we think being family-friendly is an excellent reason to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes.
3. It Offers Stunning Views of the Mountains
It’s fairly easy to get distracted by the five lake part of the location. We get it, the lakes are beautiful and each one has a different shade of blue and green to offer. But do you actually think that the view of the exuberant snow-capped mountains is not a reason in and of itself to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes?
Even if you disregard the lush meadows and the towering coniferous forests which run on either side of the trail, the stunning view of the Rockies as the backdrop to the lakes is something one can just not resist.
If you are well-versed in geography, you would definitely appreciate the view of the eastern side of Whistlers Mountain and Marmot Mountain along the trail. In fact, you can even see Edith Cavell from the Valley of the Five Lakes trail!
This view becomes even more when fascinating from across the valley. With Edith Cavell to the south, Marmot Mountain squarely in the middle, and the Whistlers Mountain to the north, it feels like one is surrounded by mountains from all three sides. It’s a breathtaking view, one that cannot be fully captured by the “valley” in the “Valley of the Five Lakes.”
So, if you thought that the five lakes were all that this beautiful trail in Jasper National Park was about, we have yet again given you a fairly irresistible reason to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes.
4. You Can Bike Along the Trail
The picturesque view of the mountains, the shimmering lakes, and the thick forestation lining the trail means that hiking through the Valley of the Five Lakes is as pleasurable as it gets. But you don’t have to settle just for hiking or walking at the Valley of the Five Lakes. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can pick a mountain bike and ride it along the trail for a liberating experience.
If you choose to go mountain biking, you will have to start your ride from the parking lot. It’s a 10 km ride from the parking lot to the First Lake and you get to choose whether you want to want to go on a relatively easier trail 1 or take a slightly harder route along trail 9C towards the south. From here on, you can go visit the other four lakes on foot or you can simply go around the First Lake to crunch in those miles. Either way, Valley of the Five Lakes trail is quite attractive for mountain bikers.
There is also a chance that you can get your toddlers and teens to mountain bike in the Valley of the Five Lakes. Due to safety concerns, however, we do not suggest that young adults attempt mountain biking beyond the wooden boardwalk bridge. Even though the trail is not significantly steep, the protruding roots of trees and scattered rocks can be quite difficult to handle for those just beginning to get the hang of mountain biking. If you are an advance-level mountain biker, though, you would definitely appreciate both the scenery the trail affords and the mountain biking skill the trail demands.
All in all, the idea of discovering clear, turquoise lakes after mountain biking along pretty trails is quite an interesting one. We think it’s yet another reason for you to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes.
5. You Can Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Gently Down the… Lake
Well, to be accurate, you can row, row, row your boat, gently down five lakes in the Valley of the Five Lakes and the trip down each one of the lakes would make for a wonderful experience.
It’s easy to characterize national parks, particularly trails, with just lines upon lines of trees and endless track that you can only walk on. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Just like mountain biking is an option, renting a row boat for a serene trip down the lake is another fun way to make the most out of your visit to the Valley of the Five Lakes.
If you do plan on rowing down one of the five lakes, there’s not much that you need to do to realize your boat trip adventure. If you plan on trying your hand on some fishing, just make sure to pack your fishing gear along with your fishing permit. Don’t have a fishing permit? No need to worry, you can buy one from downtown Jasper.
Renting a row boat is also very easy. You can find information about rentals beforehand from the Currie’s Guiding website, which is the entity managing rowboat and canoe rentals in Jasper National Park. You can rent a rowboat for an entire day for $90. If you think that would be a bit too much and have a packed itinerary, you can choose to rent the rowboat for half a day at the rate of $60. If you wish to add motors or batteries to your boat, you can do so at an additional price based on the power. However, life jackets, rope, bailing bucket, paddles and oars are all included in the rental price which are also subject to taxation.
If you live far away and only in Jasper for a few days, rowing down one of the lakes of the Valley of the Five Lakes is something we highly recommend. It will undoubtedly be one of the finer experiences of life, marked by the crystal blue water, full coniferous trees, and a snow-capped Rockies in the background.
We think that the five reasons outlined above make a solid case for why you must visit the Valley of the Five Lakes. Now that your opinion on this beautiful spot in Jasper National Park is swayed in the favor of the differently colored five lakes, let’s get into two essential things that you might want to keep in mind when planning your visit. Spontaneous magical trips are great, but it’s also useful to plan ahead especially when on the go with young children or senior adults.
Some “Valley of the Five Lakes” Travel Tips:
If you’re visiting Jasper National Park, it’s almost certain that you are planning on hiking, be it across the Valley of the Five Lakes or any other part of the park. Therefore, it’s crucial that you digest this travel tip and pack accordingly.
Now, packing doesn’t always have to be limited to overnight stays. Even if you’re just visiting the Valley of the Five Lakes for a couple of hours, make sure you have the essentials under your belt. These obviously include backpacks and hydration packs. If you want to keep things easy, you can swap the hydration pack with a water bottle. Ideally, the bottle should also have a filter. Make sure to also pack snacks for yourself. Hiking will give rise to an appetite and you can never go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich, right?
Also, make sure that you pack according to the weather. Check ahead of time and pack a rain coat if precipitation is likely. You might also want to carry a light jacket with you as it tends to get colder towards sunset anyway. Make sure to carry a bug spray with you. We also highly suggest taking a bear spray, because bears do roam the trails and encountering one wouldn’t be surprising (bear-spotting: another reason to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes!).
Look Out for Trail Reports
No matter where you go hiking, checking trail reports beforehand should be a habit. Traveling all the way to a trail only find it closed for maintenance or clearance or for any other reason can prove to be quite disappointing. It’s, therefore, extremely important that you look out for trail reports and ascertain the conditions are good for both hiking and mountain biking. In conclusion, the Valley of the Five Lakes is definitely something that should be on your must-visit list when visiting Alberta in Canada. It has all the makings of a beautiful painting.
Tranquil lakes, stunning mountains, forests, meadows, and smooth trails – we do not think that you need any more reasons to visit the Valley of the Five Lakes. Whether you are on a mission to explore all of Jasper National Park or in town for only a few days, the Valley of the Five Lakes is a place which comes highly recommended, not only by us but also everybody else in Canada!