The Valley of the Five Lakes is a must-do for any visitor to Jasper National Park. For those travelling with families, the relatively small changes in elevation and the well-maintained trail will be very appealing. And for those interested in more challenging hikes, this hike will be a great way to kill a couple of hours with five spectacular lakes that can truly rival lakes in the backcountry with crystal-clear blue water and impressive vistas of the Rocky Mountains.
Accessing Valley of the Five Lakes can be done several different ways, but a trailhead on Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) is considerably shorter than other options. The trailhead is only about 15 minutes from the town of Jasper, Whistlers, or Wabasso Campgrounds, and about 20 to 25 minutes from the Fairmont Jasper Lodge. Nearly all visitors to Jasper National Park will have a relatively short drive to get to the trailhead, which is clearly signed off the left side of the highway for southbound travellers. The parking lot has been recently expanded and, while busy, will typically have spots open for hikers; however, parking off the side of the highway is permitted if there are no spots available.
The first kilometer of the trail is by far the busiest. After hiking across a wetland using an elevated walkway, proceed straight at the (roughly) four-way junction and up the hill to reach a three-way junction with a route to First Lake to the left and a route to Fifth Lake to the right. The trail will form a lasso-shape here around the far side of Second, Third, and Fourth Lakes, and it is about 500 meters to either First Lake or Fifth Lake from the junction (the trail does not wrap around either First Lake or Fifth Lake, which are larger than their counterparts). First Lake is relatively hard to get a good view of and is the only one that hikers might miss if they are not paying close attention. If you chose to head toward First Lake, look toward your left for a clearing of trees and you can get a good view of the lake just before the junction to the other four lakes. The trail is much more open for Second, Third, and Fourth Lake. Fifth Lake is relatively wooded as well, but a trail to a small dock is impossible to miss.