easy hikes in Jasper

Best Easy Hikes in Jasper You Must Do

Jasper, a gem nestled within the Canadian Rockies, offers lots of things to do if you are an outdoor lover, that are perfect for all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re looking to gently tread along serene lake loops or explore lush forested paths, easy hikes in Jasper provide a unique way to connect with nature without the strenuous challenge often associated with mountain hiking.

I have done many hikes in Banff National Park or in Kananaskis, but hiking in Jasper National Park was very different and pretty darn amazing. This guide will provide you everything you need to know, to take on hiking in this beautiful park. Note, that I have hiked alone for many years, so yes it is doable. I always ensure I follow proper safety tips while outdoors.

Jasper National Park, is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, spans over 11,000 square kilometers (4,330 square miles) of awe-inspiring mountain wilderness. Established in 1907, this park is renowned for its landscapes, diverse wildlife, and, of course, its accessible trails which make hiking a joy for everyone.

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How To Get To Jasper

Getting to Jasper is an adventure in itself. The nearest major city is Edmonton, Alberta, from which you can drive about 3.5 hours west to reach the park. Alternatively, arriving from Calgary offers a scenic route of approximately 5 hours, winding through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Wherever you are coming from, enjoy the beautiful views and keep your eyes open for wildlife on the side of the highway.

Spirit Island - Maligne Lake

The Best Easy Hikes in Jasper National Park

Jasper is home to some of the best easy hikes that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies without a significant elevation gain. All of these trails are absolutely doable by someone who is a beginner hiker. Here’s a guide to some must-try trails:

Athabasca Falls

This is a short hike in Jasper that is located about 20 minutes out of town. This place is a great spot to check out, especially for first-time hikers in this clean national park. There are paved paths that lead to different spots where you can view the waterfalls and look into the deep, narrow canyon. Athabasca Falls is a strong and stunning waterfall set against a scene of forests, mountains, and a river.

Athabasca Falls 2

The area can get pretty busy, and some viewing spots are small, so you might have to wait your turn to take pictures, especially during the warmer months. The paths offer interesting walks, including one that goes through a tight space between two canyon walls with stairs cut into the rock. You can see caves and unique rock shapes formed by water erosion over the years. 

There’s a big parking lot, and it’s best to visit in the morning in summer to avoid the crowds. If you’re driving on Icefields Parkway, Highway 93, make sure to stop here as it’s a highlight between Banff and Jasper National Parks, where you can see a type of soft limestone that’s rare in the Canadian Rockies.

Athabasca Falls

Sunwapta Falls

This hike is located 40 minutes out of Jasper on Highway 93, so if you are heading back towards Calgary, then this is a great one to do on the way in or out. It can also be added after doing Athabasca Falls as it’s only about 20 minutes past it.

Upper Sunwapta Falls are conveniently located right by the highway, requiring minimal walking to access. For those seeking the Lower Sunwapta Falls, simply follow the route as marked.

The trail meanders through a quiet forest, leading to the majestic falls which roar with power. Along the way, there are ample opportunities for capturing stunning photos and enjoying scenic views from the footbridge above the deep canyon. 

Beyond the bridge, the trail leads to the Lower Falls, albeit smaller in scale yet still enchanting to behold. To ensure safety, a chain link fence lines the trail near the rocky edges, preventing visitors from venturing too close to the falls or canyon’s edge.

Sunwapta Falls

Maligne Canyon

The Maligne Canyon Loop offers easy access for visitors to explore one of the most scenic spots in the area. This trail is a delight for beginner nature photographers who want to test their skills, thanks to the many breathtaking viewpoints, including those from the Fourth, Third, Second, and First Bridges.

The trail itself is manageable with some easy inclines, making it accessible for most fitness levels. The deep and narrow canyon, carved over many years by the power of water, offers a dramatic landscape that’s arguably more impressive and less crowded than the more famous Johnston Canyon in Banff. I prefer to start the trail going to the right, which means the end of the loop will be along the canyon wall over the river.

An early morning hike at Maligne Canyon is highly recommended to avoid the crowds and fully enjoy the serene natural setting. The loop takes about 2.5 hours to complete, which includes plenty of time for photography and soaking in the incredible views.

Maligne Canyon 2

Maligne Canyon – Sixth Bridge Add-On

If you want to add extra hiking, then you can venture on the trail leading to the sixth bridge which offers a pleasant and easy stroll through the forest. Equipped with railings and safety fencing, this well-maintained path is family-friendly and accessible to all. It branches off at the opposite end of the trail from where you start and the in and out path adds an extra 3.0 kms to your hike.

Maligne Canyon

Valley of the Five Lakes

Valley of Five Lakes is a simple hiking trail that starts by walking through a beautiful forest and crossing a wooden bridge over a marshy area. It then goes up a bit into the forest again. At a certain point, you can choose to walk around the lakes either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

If you take the clockwise path, you’ll start at the first lake and move towards the fifth. The trail has some ups and downs, and flat parts in between. It’s not too hard, but if you don’t like constant changes in elevation and just want to coast, it might be better to start at the fifth lake by going counter-clockwise.

Valley of the Five Lakes - Third Lake

The trail offers great views, especially from a narrow ridge by the fifth lake, but it can get crowded. The lakes themselves are stunning, with bright blue and green waters and clear views that reflect the nearby mountains and trees. It’s a perfect spot for photos. These lakes are some of the most beautiful in the Rockies.

Valley of the Five Lakes - Chairs

Valley of the Five Lakes and First Lake – Add On

This add-on will take you an extra 3.7kms around First Lake, if you choose to do it. After completing the shorter loop around Second to Fifth Lakes, you reach a junction where you can choose to head back to the parking lot or continue north for a larger loop around the first lake, which is a bit more challenging 

Parts of this trail may require detours through the bush or balancing on rocks and logs, making it better suited for summer or late in the year, unless hikers are well-prepared. Once the trail turns south to finish the loop, the path conditions improve significantly, although this section often gets busier as it nears the parking lot.

I did this add on, but I went the opposite way. I travelled through the forested area and well around First Lake, before I came back; and ended with seeing the remaining Lakes. I prefer to leave the best for last.

Valley of the Five Lakes

Lake Annette Loop

The Lake Annette trail is a flat, paved path that starts at the lake’s parking area and winds through the forest and along the lake’s edge. It’s more of a leisurely walk than a hike, with minimal uphill walking, offering quiet, scenic views that can attract crowds. I went on this route in the early evening and there were many people there swimming in the water and enjoying the nice weather. It is definitely a hot spot for visitors and residents.

This route provides stunning views of the lake and mountains, with benches along the way for resting and enjoying the landscape. It was a great trail to walk if you are interested in bird watching as there were lots of birds in the trees and on the water. It’s an accessible path, making it a great spot for taking photos and simply enjoying nature.

Lake Annette Loop

Edith Lake

Located just a short drive north of Jasper, this trail circles the calm Edith Lake. Although the trail isn’t marked, it’s fairly easy to follow as it runs close to the shoreline, offering beautiful views of the lake and distant mountains. The trail itself is a narrow, packed dirt path which can become challenging to navigate if you are hiking in the winter, as it may be covered in snow.

Edith Lake

Pyramid Lake Loop

Unfortunately I was unable to do this route, as it was closed due to flooding on the trail (from snow melt overflow). I did go to the trailhead and went out to Pyramid Island to check it out – which is totally worth it as it’s just a short walk from the road. It was probably a good thing I didn’t do the hike, because when I was by the trailhead, a park ranger that was there, asked me if I saw the bear 5 minutes earlier!

This summary of the trail was provided by a fellow hiker. Pyramid Lake has many hiking trails, making it a perfect spot for hiking. There are plenty of maps to help you find your way, and the main trail is well-liked and suitable for most hikers. However, you can choose extra paths if you want a harder hike. 

People who are familiar with hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains think this trail is not as famous as it should be, considering the stunning views you get from the top, especially after walking through a beautiful forest.

Pyramid Lake

Hiking Beyond Jasper: Banff and Canmore

While exploring easy hikes in Jasper, it is worth extending your adventure to the nearby areas of Banff National Park and Canmore. Both locations offer additional easy hikes with breathtaking scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. In Banff, don’t miss the Johnston Canyon hike to the lower falls. Near Canmore, the Grassi Lakes Trail hike provides an easy and rewarding hike with stunning turquoise lakes as the backdrop.

FAQs for Hiking in Jasper

Yes. Purchase a park pass for the duration of your stay in advance. This will expedite your entry into Jasper National Park.

Absolutely! My dog Lucy was with me on all of these hikes. Just ensure you always keep your dog on leash.

Jasper is home to animals like moose, deer, coyotes, wolves, black bears, grizzly bears, elk, and a variety of birds, providing excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing throughout the year.

Early mornings and evenings are prime times for wildlife sightings, especially along Maligne Lake Road and other quiet trails.

Absolutely yes! I highly recommend downloading Alltrails. All these routes can be found on the app and if you upgrade to the pro version, you can ensure you have access to the route while hiking. Many of these areas may not have cellular access.

Carrying and knowing how to use bear spray is essential for safety in Jasper’s wilderness. Both grizzly bears and black bears are present here. I saw a few when I was there, but luckily not when I was hiking. Ensure you know are bear aware when hiking, whether you are hiking alone or not.

Elk calving occurs from May 15 until June 30 in Jasper National Park, during which time mothers will aggressively protect their newborns by kicking and charging at people. The Elk Rutting season occurs in the fall when Bulls will display dominance by spreading their scent and fighting with other bulls. Please advise elk at all times.

Yes, all of these trails can be accessed in the winter. Ensure you have the proper gear including crampons, to ensure your safety while hiking.

FREE Hiking Checklist

The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Dress in layers and carry essential gear. Always be prepared for variable conditions. For comfort and safety on the trails, durable hiking boots with good support and waterproof features are recommended. Download your free hiking checklist:

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning a trip to Jasper, make sure to include these easy hikes in Jasper National Park as part of your itinerary. While the park caters to all levels of hikers, these easy trails offer a relaxing way to experience the stunning beauty of Jasper without the physical strain. Happy hiking!

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