Posted by Vi Warkentin on
The Valley of Five Lakes near Jasper, AB - on a recent weekend out to Jasper, AB we planned to do some hiking while there and so we chose several locations. As we travelled out to Mount Edith Cavell, we were advised that the road up there was temporarily closed due to bridge repair so we continued on down the road to just ‘wander’ through the Rockies!
We headed south for 10 kms on Hwy 93 and came across a small road-side parking lot with several cars and decided to stop to check out what was there. It was the Valley of Five Lakes which offers hiking options to five different lakes in a valley.After consulting the posted maps (and taking photos of it for reference on the trail), we headed out choosing to go to the right on 9a and returning on 9b (see map below). We would hike to lake #5 and work our way backwards to #1. It didn’t take too long before we met up with hikers returning and also passed by a few people with fishing rods and a cooler heading towards the lakes. Off we go.
The hike begins on a relatively flat walking path - the hum of cars from the highway slowly fades away and we’re greeted by patches of wild orchids along side the path. About 15 minutes later, we come to a wooden boardwalk which spans the valley’s stream. A short ascent greets us on the other side which will take us up and over to the next valley where the five lakes are.
We’re met by another couple who are confused as to which path to take at the point where the two trails fork off in different directions. We show them the photo of the map and they decide to take the same route we’re taking. The path is soft and cushioned by the many pine needles layered on the ground and the sides of the path are lined with thick and soft layers of moss. (I just love moss!)
Another fork in the ‘road’ but we choose the left path leaving the adventure past these fallen trees to someone else! (Perhaps another time). As we continue up and down the trail, it becomes more rocky and criss-crossed with tree roots. Keep your eyes on the path as not to trip but remember to stop and look up to see the beauty around you.
Further along we come to a small plank bridge over a babbling brook - I’m sure earlier in the season, it’s flowing much stronger. A few more ascents and descents and we come into view of a beautiful lake. (#5 as indicated on the earlier map)
The lake is calm and we hear are the chirping of happy birds. A few couples sit huddled on rocks near the shore line surveying the beauty of this place. Another hiker appears to be meditating. Another has a sketchbook out with pencil in hand.A few old boats are tied up near the water’s edge - I’m not sure if they’re actually somebody’s boats or if the public are encouraged to just hop in and take a paddle around this gorgeous lake.We spend a few minutes taking in the beauty of lake #5 and then decide to hike to the next - in actuality, the lakes are very near one another and in three minutes, we are looking at the beautiful hues of the next lake. There is one family picnicing on the south end of this lake while some of the younger ones are wading into the water. (We assumed the water would be quite cold but were told by some other hikers that it was quite warm - possibly because of the lake appearing fairly shallow along some of the edges.
A few steps further and we see the third lake - again, its colour is amazing - gorgeous blue greens. We continue along the east side of the lake on a path carved into the side of the hill. Looking back on the path, you can see lake #4 separated by only a small embankment beyone this third lake.
When looking back, something red caught my attention just up the hill to the left of the embankment that separated the fourth and third lakes. To my surpise, it was a set of red andirondack chairs. Initially, I wondered who would bring along their chairs but later I ‘googled’ it and found out that these sets of chairs are a project of Parks Canada - who placed six sets of these red chairs in various spots in Jasper National Park in 2014. It was very successful and they plan to place additional chairs this year. Find out more about the project and where other chairs are placed in Canadian National Parks here. The public are encouraged to enjoy the lakeside vistas and mountain views from these chairs and also tweet a photo from the location using the hashtag #sharethechair.
Again, a short hike further and we come across lake #2 - a very shallow lake. It is at this point that I’m reminded of the decreasing lake levels and shrinking glaciers here and around the world.
Beyond the very shallow lake #2, we continue to hike north, past the path (9b) which will take us back to the parking lot, to get a better view of lake #1, the longest and largest of the five lakes. There is an assortment of paths lead down from the main trail to the edges of the lake. We decide to eventually work our way down the steep decline along one of the many paths and eventually get down to the waters edge. What a spectacular view!
We climbed back up to the main path and backtracked to the fork in the path taking path 9b (located between lake #1 and #2) back towards the beginning of the hike. We get another view from the very south end of lake #1. Leaving the beautiful Valley of Five Lakes behind, we hike through forests of trees and moss and wild orchids and remark how pleasantly surprised we were - having never stopped here in the past while travelling along Hwy 93 between Jasper and Banff for years! The stroll back from lake #1 to the parking lot (with photo stops along the way) took half an hour.
Lesson learned - take time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ or in this case, take time to ‘pull off the road and take a hike’ - you never know what you’ll discover!