Want explore the Canadian Rockies to their fullest? Carve time into your Western Canada road trip to experience hiking in Jasper National Park. Located about 4 hours southwest of Edmonton, Jasper is one of the most famous outdoor adventure destinations in Canada, and a gem for both casual and serious hikers.
Trudging along the most popular hikes in Jasper National Park will etch some of Canada’s finest outdoor scenery into your mind. There’s a little something for all types of hikers. Enjoy easy day hikes perfect for families, or embark on more advanced multi-day trails catering to the most adventurous travellers.
Ready for the ultimate Alberta Rocky Mountain outdoor adventure? Careen down all the park’s finest trails with this complete Jasper hiking guide!
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Top hiking trails in Jasper National Park
Carved out by millennia of water erosion, Maligne Canyon is one of the most impressive things to see in Jasper. And one of the most memorable ways to see it is on the Maligne Canyon Trail.
At under 4 kilometres, the Maligne Canyon Trail is a fantastic hike for beginners. It delivers spectacular views of its gorge, waterfalls, and the Maligne River in a mere hour or two. Along the trail, you’ll trek over a series of bridges, each offering views more breathtaking than the last.
Keep in mind that Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Jasper. Try to arrive early in the day to catch the scene without the big tourist crowds. (Especially if you’re visiting in high season.)
- Distance: 3.9 kilometres
- Time: 1 to 2 hours
Edith Cavell Meadows
Want to stroll through a beautiful flowery meadow to a backdrop of glaciers and mountain peaks? Edith Cavell Meadows will be a great addition to your Jasper hiking adventure.
The Edith Cavell Meadows hike starts off simple & flat. Soon, the trail begins an ascent up its namesake, Mount Edith Cavell. At the summit of Mount Edith Cavell, you’ll enjoy incredible 360-degree panoramas of Jasper National Park. Catch the beautiful views towards Angel Glacier.
Like Maligne Canyon, Edith Cavell Meadows is one of the park’s most popular hiking trails. The crowds may get dense at times here. It’s not a bad thing, though, as the area is known for frequent grizzly bear sightings. (We’d recommend bringing along some bear spray, just in case!)
- Distance: 8.5 kilometres
- Time: 3 to 5 hours
The Sulphur Skyline Trail starts beside the Miette Hot Springs. The trail meanders through forests and switchbacks. Soon, you’ll poke out above the treeline for epic views over Jasper National Park.
As a day hike, the Sulphur Skyline Trail is steep and moderately challenging. It’s well worth the effort, though, for the brilliant mountain and valley views you’ll breathe in after reaching the summit.
At the time of writing (fall 2023), the road to the trailhead is currently closed to traffic for public safety. To reach it, you’ll need to walk or cycle 15 kilometres each way from the main highway.
PRO TIP: Be sure to wear a good pair of hiking boots. The Sulphur Skyline Trail is steep and rocky in sections.
- Distance: 7.7 kilometres
- Time: 4 to 6 hours
Valley of the Five Lakes
The Valley of the Five Lakes is a fantastic hike for beginners. The trail swings past five of the most scenic lakes in Jasper National Park. These lakes show off varying shades of turquoise, blue, and green to a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.
With little effort, even inexperienced hikers should be able to complete this simple day hike in a couple of hours. As the Valley of the Five Lakes is one of the easier trails in the area, arrive earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Distance: 4.5 kilometres
- Time: 1 to 2 hours
No one would accuse Opal Hills of giving up its gems too easily. Famous for its wildflowers and epic alpine meadows, Opal Hills is a moderately difficult loop. It takes anywhere between 3 to 5 hours of hiking time, depending on your fitness level.
The Opal Hills trail immediately starts with a quad-burning steep incline. The workout doesn’t let up until the back-end of the counter-clockwise return loop. If you tough it out, you’ll soon blissfully frolic among a cascade of colourful wildflowers in the trail’s famous alpine meadows.
You can hike the Opal Hills Loop Trail from March until October. The best time to take to the trails here, though, is in spring and summer when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
- Distance: 7.9 kilometres
- Time: 3 to 5 hours
Bald Hills is one of the top full-day hikes in Jasper National Park. The trek to Bald Hills navigates an easy-to-moderate hiking trail. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of scenic vistas and photo ops to light you up.
Most hikers tackle Bald Hills along the main fire road. It’s the easiest route up to the top of the hills and offers a more moderate incline than the narrower trail.
Once you reach the top of Bald Hills, you’ll be treated to spectacular views over the Queen Victoria and Maligne Mountains. You’ll also peer upon the beautiful Maligne Lake below.
- Distance: 15 kilometres
- Time: 4 to 6 hours
The Skyline Trail
Not to be confused with the Sulphur Skyline day hike, The Skyline Trail is a popular multi-day backcountry hike in Jasper National Park. The epic trail gains over 1,800 metres of elevation along a 48-kilometre stretch.
For much of the hike, you’ll trek above the treeline. The trail gives birth to endless panoramas over the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, you’ll also stroll across three mountain passes, each shedding incredible views over the range.
With the lofty elevation, the weather conditions along The Skyline Trail can be hit or miss. Be sure to wear your clothing in layers. Also, bring along a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots. There’s an ever-looming possibility of rain or sleet here.
- Distance: 48.1 kilometres
- Time: 2 to 4 days
The Wilcox Pass Trail is located between Jasper and Banff. Wilcox Pass is just off the legendary Icefields Parkway and is a fantastic stop to experience the Athabasca Glacier up close and personal.
The half-day hiking trail weaves northwards through alpine meadows. The Wilcox Pass Trail powers up 522 metres of elevation gain before reaching its apex. At the trail’s end, you’ll witness the majesty of the Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield. You may even get to catch some bighorn sheep grazing along the way!
As Wilcox Pass begins above the 2,000-metre level, it can get quite windy along the trail. Be sure to dress appropriately. Bring along warmer windbreaking outerwear like a softshell jacket to stay toasty for the journey.
- Distance: 9.3 kilometres
- Time: 3 to 4 hours
Although most well-known as the home of the Jasper SkyTram, Whistlers Mountain is also a great place to hike while visiting Jasper National Park. The 2,470-metre mountain is a short 10-minute drive south of the mountain town.
There’s a lot of flexibility for reaching the summit of Whistlers Mountain. Hardcore hikers will likely opt for the full monty: Powering up to the top of the peak along The Whistlers Trail. This difficult hiking trail shoots up over 1,300 metres to the summit of Whistlers Mountain. It stretches a distance just shy of 8 kilometres.
Those less inclined to struggle can ride the Jasper Sky Tram most of the way up. It’ll save your energy for the shorter Whistlers Summit Trail. At 3.7 kilometres round-trip, the trail covers only the final leg of the journey to the summit. It should only take most hikers about 90 minutes to two hours to complete.
From Whistlers Summit, you can also choose to continue to the hike to Indian Ridge. At Indian Ridge, you’ll find even more epic views of the surrounding mountains. In the distance, you’ll spot Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
- Distance: 15.4 kilometres
- Time: 6 to 8 hours
Looking for the most family-friendly hike in Jasper National Park? Check out the Athabasca Falls Trail. Located just 25 minutes south of town, the Athabasca Falls Trail comes at one kilometre return with only 25 metres in elevation gain. Just about anyone can complete this relatively flat and easy hiking trail.
At the various viewpoints and the trail’s end, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the 23-metre-high Athabasca Falls. You’ll also catch vistas towards Mt. Kerkeslin.
- Distance: 1 kilometre
- Time: 1 hour
Stunning views rarely come as easy as Lake Annette. Located on Highway 16 between Jasper and Edmonton, Lake Annette is a spectacular slice of nature. For its amazing views of the surrounding landscape, it’s a must-see for any visit to Jasper National Park.
The 2.4-kilometre paved Lake Annette Loop path rings around the picturesque lake. Along the way, you’ll breathe in panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies to a foreground of the lake’s shimmering glacial waters.
Got some energy to spare? Extend your day hike with a loop around the neighbouring Lake Edith.
- Distance: 2.4 kilometres
- Time: 30 minutes to 1 hours
Where to stay in Jasper National Park for hikers
With its popularity among visitors, choosing among the best places to stay in Jasper National Park can be a challenge. Most hikers choose to stay in the town of Jasper, where the vast majority of the park’s top accommodations lie. There are also a handful of good options along the Yellowhead Highway and the Icefields Parkway. Be sure to book ahead when visiting during the summer high tourist season and in ski season.
- Bear Hill Lodge: This lodge is just 10 minutes from the centre of Jasper. Bear Hill Lodge offers rustic country rooms amidst the nature of Jasper National Park. For hikers who love the outdoors, it’s the perfect place to stay.
- Pyramid Lake Resort: Want to unwind by the lake after a long day of hiking? This lakeside retreat is the perfect choice! There’s a wide array of amenities at Pyramid Lake Resort. They include a private beach and hot tub. There’s also a great selection of activities like canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: This luxury resort is the most iconic hotel in Jasper National Park. It’s a great place to up the ante on your Jasper vacation. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is located on the shores of Beauvert Lake. The hotel features eight on-site restaurants, a spa, and an award-winning golf course for your relaxation and enjoyment.
When to go hiking in Jasper National Park
Summer is the best time of the year to visit Jasper National Park. The park’s prime hiking season is between July and August. These months also fall within Jasper’s high tourism season.
When visiting at this time of year, be sure to book your accommodations far in advance. The town’s most popular places to stay book up fast!
If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting in the late spring or early autumn shoulder seasons. The weather is still pleasant at this time of year, with fewer tourists to block the amazing views.
Things to know before you go
Jasper National Park is chock-loaded with wildlife. While spotting animals in the Canadian wilderness is exciting, it can sometimes prove dangerous.
The Jasper area is known for being home to many grizzly bears. It’s never a great idea to hit the trails alone. Bring along a buddy and add some bear spray to your packing list just to be safe.
Although Jasper National Park is accessible year-round, it doesn’t mean that its trails will always be in tip-top shape. For hiking, you’ll want to stick to months between late spring and early autumn. During these times of year, you’ll have the best chance for good trail conditions.
Even in the height of summer, though, trail conditions can be variable. In Jasper’s higher altitude, you can find ice and snow on the trails year-round. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear at all times.
You’ll also want to check local weather forecasts before undertaking a hike. Weather conditions can change at the drop of a hat. Make sure you’re prepared for anything Mother Nature might throw your way.
The trails are also subject to closure due to wildlife and avalanche risk. Keep an eye on the conditions at the Parks Canada website.
How to get there
From Lake Louise
The road trip between Lake Louise in Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most scenic. From Lake Louise, head north on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 to Highway 93, otherwise known as the Icefields Parkway. The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper National Park is about 3 hours.
To get to Jasper National Park from Edmonton, head west on Highway 16. The drive is about 4 hours.