Chosing The Best Hikes in Jasper National Park
Few wilderness areas in North America inspire wonder quite like Jasper National Park. Spread across the sublime landscapes of western Alberta, Jasper is home to some of the finest hiking trails in the Canadian Rockies. From dazzling glaciers to sprawling pine forests and cerulean lakes to diamond-edged peaks, Jasper has it all.
Of course, this means that choosing the best hikes in Jasper National Park is an unenviable task. You could spend a lifetime exploring mountain peaks and backcountry trails, forever finding new routes. However, all adventures must start somewhere. To help guide you on your first steps, here are 5 of the best hikes in Jasper National Park.
Old Fort Point
Length: 3.7 km
Elevation Gain: 173 metres
Old Fort Point is the shortest hike on this list but one that’s full of charm and reward. Situated only a stone’s throw from Jasper town, this is a great warm-up walk to get an overview of the surrounding area. It’s also a great place to hike for sunrise or to go stargazing on a clear night.
Be warned, bears have also been spotted in the area so, as with every hike in the Rockies, carry your bear spray. You should also keep an eye out for the residential longhorn sheep that often amble around the summit!
If you’re keen to stretch your legs a little further, there are plenty of trails that branch off from Old Fort Point along the Athabasca River and into the mountains. You can even link this route to another of the best hikes in Jasper National Park – the Valley of the Five Lakes – for one epic day out.
Maligne Lake & Canyon
Length: 3.7 km
Elevation Gain: 131 metres
Maligne Canyon is a geographical wonder that connects multiple hikes in Jasper National Park. Water flows from the glaciers and snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains into Maligne Lake. Over thousands of years, this water has carved out subterranean aquifers beneath the ground while the rivers and waterfalls have deepened these canyons from above.
Exploring these landscapes makes for some of the best hikes in Jasper National Park. At Maligne Canyon, you can follow the boardwalk route and stare down a narrow gulley where water courses deep beneath the rock. There are also multiple bridges to cross for viewpoints with the option to extend your hike along the Maligne River to the sixth and final bridge if you desire.
If the canyon has whetted your appetite, head up past Medicine Lake to the mountain-fringed Maligne Lake. Here you can embark on plenty more hikes into the Bald Hills and along the lakeshore. This is also an excellent place for spotting a Canadian moose if you visit in the mornings and search the shallow pools where they come to feed.
Pyramid Lake Loop
Length: 6.0 km
Elevation Gain: 219 metres
Rising above the town of Jasper, it’s hard to miss the immaculate silhouette of Pyramid Peak. Aside from glorious mountain vistas, there are also some emerald and sapphire lakes to explore beneath this summit. To enjoy one of the most popular hikes in Jasper National Park, opt for this Pyramid Lake Loop. Of course, as usual in Alberta, there are also plenty of extension trails you can tack onto this existing route.
Starting from the car park by the lakeshore, you can begin this trail by walking out to Pyramid Island where you gain a fabulous view of Pyramid Peak soaring above you. After this, the rest of the trail will pass through a wooded hillside where you are met with multiple views over Patricia Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Valley of the Five Lakes
Length: 4.8 km
Elevation Gain: 163 metres
When most people think of Jasper, they imagine glistening peaks and snow-covered summits. However, much of the beauty in this nature area is down in the valleys, along the lakes and waterways. A jewel in the crown of these water features is the Valley of the Five Lakes. These lakes are as marvellous as they are unique with each body of water appearing a different colour.
On this trail, you will amble through pristine forests and peaceful meadows, gradually working your way past each of the five lakes. This is a trail that is best completed early in the morning to truly experience the tranquillity of the area.
Sulphur Skyline Trail
Length: 7.9 km
Elevation Gain: 653 metres
For one of the more challenging hikes in Jasper National Park, set your sights on the Sulphur Skyline Trail. This is a tough day out where you must work for your panoramas. The route follows a steady but steep incline up a ridge before switchbacking to the Sulphur Skyline viewpoint.
This final ascent is classed as a rocky scramble, but once completed, you will get a 360-degree view of the mountains. This trail is in a secluded area of the park which means it will take a good hour to reach from Jasper. However, the remoteness of the nature will more than make up for the journey. Once you have completed the hike, make sure to stop off at the Miette Hotsprings to soak your aching muscles.
More Hikes Near Jasper National Park
If you think this is the end of the road, fear not, there are plenty more hikes in Jasper National Park to discover. For anyone with a car, drive along the Icefields Parkway to another of Canada’s best nature areas: Banff and Lake Louise. Enroute, stop off at the Athabasca Falls to marvel at this powerful water torrent.
There is also the near by Mount Robson national park which is home to the highest peak in the Rockies and the awe inspiring berg lake trail. Mount Robson is often forgotten about on most peoples itinerary yet it is the perfect way to avoid the the busy areas.
South of Highway 93, you’ll find another trailhead that seems to disappear into the bristling pine forest. If you follow this path, you’ll discover the Edenic pond and meadows of the Edith Cavell trail. In spring, this spot is filled with wildflowers and the sound of birds. Hiking through the subalpine forest, you’ll also get quite the view from the East Ridge Summit when you reach the top!
Meet Matt the 24-year-old ex-biologist & marketer turned travel writer, blending a love for adventure with storytelling at Walk Wild.