Best hiking trails in jasper

14 Best Hikes In Jasper, Canada

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14 Best Hikes In Jasper,Canada

Jasper National Park may not be as famous as neighboring Banff, but don’t write it off just yet! WWB Writer, Maryam has created an ultimate guide for you so you can experience breathtaking landscapes that adventure lovers seek out the best hikes in Jasper year long.

Jasper is a hikers paradise, offering thousands of kilometers of trails in the untouched wilderness. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

A diverse range of trails means options for everyone to choose from – short or long, low or high altitude, and everything in between. Here are 14 of the best hikes in Jasper National Park.

Best hikes in Jasper
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

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Why hike in Jasper

Escape the crowds

Neighboring the popular Banff National Park, many visitors pass over Jasper – but they are missing out! Jasper is the largest national park in Canada, almost double the size of Banff. Despite this, Jasper only receives half the amount of visitors that Banff does. This means it is a lot less crowded and offers a more peaceful outdoor experience. 

Epic hikes

Jasper’s large size means it also has some epic multi-day hikes that seasoned hikers will relish. The best trails in Jasper National Park are well maintained and easy to follow with clear markings. Jasper is definitely a destination for hikers looking for something unique and off the beaten path. The mountains in Jasper have a more jagged profile and the treeline is lower, meaning you can reach picturesque views quicker when hiking. 

Amazing natural beauty

As the largest accessible dark sky preserve in the world, Jasper is one of the best places to experience the stellar beauty of twinkling stars, constellations, galaxies, and even the aurora borealis if you’re lucky! Visitors also say that Jasper feels more rugged and raw compared to the more glitzy Banff. 

Best trails in Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

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Easy hiking trails in Jasper

If you’re just looking to stretch your legs, or if you’re traveling with kids, these are some of the best easy hikes Jasper has to offer.

Maligne Canyon

Best winter hikes Jasper
Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Canada

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One of the must-do hikes in Jasper, Maligne Canyon is the deepest gorge in the Canadian Rockies. The trails take you across suspension bridges spanning deep, narrow gorges, past waterfalls and rushing rivers, and awe-inspiring views of the Canadian Rockies. 

In the winter, you will be treated to epic frozen waterfall formations, making this one of the best winter hikes Jasper has to offer. Hikers of all levels of experience can complete this trail easily.

Tip: If you’re in a hurry, take the leftmost trail which will bring you directly to the heart of the canyons. The best views are between bridge 1-4, but it’s well worth exploring the whole area!

  • Difficulty Level: 1 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 140m
  • Distance: 3.9km loop
  • Time: 1-2 hours

How to get there: Take Maligne Lake Road off Highway 16. The trailhead is located at the Maligne Canyon parking lot, after which it branches off into several directions. 

Valley of the Five Lakes

Best day hikes Jasper
Valley of the Five Lakes, Jasper, Canada

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The Valley of the Five Lakes is one of the best day hikes Jasper has to offer. Relaxing and picturesque, it’s perfect for beginner hikers looking for an iconic half-day excursion filled with scenic views. 

The five lakes that give the trail its name all have different depths and shades of turquoise, blue, and emerald green, depending on the time of year and the sunlight. Lake no.3 and no.4 are often ranked as the most beautiful.

Tip: The lakes are calmer in the morning, and the crowds are a lot less. Visit early if you want a calm and quiet hike

  • Difficulty Level: 1 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 66m
  • Distance: 4.5km return
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours

How to get there: The trailhead is located 9km south of Jasper town, and just off the Icefields Parkway. 

Athabasca Falls

Easy hikes Jasper
Athabasca Falls in Jasper, Alberta, Canada

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The Athabasca Falls trail is a very easy and accessible hike just 30 minutes outside of Jasper town. Admire the powerful rush of the mighty 23m high falls with views of Mt. Kerkeslin looming in the background. The trail leads you around the falls so you can enjoy the views of the falls from all angles.

Tip: You might get slightly wet from the spray of ice-cold glacial water, so be prepared with a jacket or poncho and stay on the marked paths.

  • Difficulty Level: 1 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 25m
  • Distance: 1km return
  • Time: 1 hour

How to get there: Drive 30km south from Jasper along Highway 93 and turn right at junction 93A towards Athabasca Falls Viewpoint. Trailhead starts from the large parking lot.

Sunwapta Falls

Top hikes jasper
Sunwapta Falls in Jasper, Alberta, Canada

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This short hike is another great easy hike just off the Icefields Parkway. The Sunwapta Falls name is from the Stoney Indian word for “turbulent river”, and from the first bridge, you can enjoy views of the powerful falls, deep canyons and evergreen forest surrounding it.

Tip: Don’t turn back once you reach the main falls – continue down the trail to Lower Sunwapta Falls for some incredible views that most people miss.

  • Difficulty Level: 1 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 80m
  • Distance: 2.8km return
  • Time: 1 hour

How to get there: Drive 55km south from Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. Turn right at Sunwapta Falls Resort, and find the parking lot at the end of the access road. The trailhead is about 1 minute from here.

Toe of the Athabasca Glacier

Best hikes in jasper national park
Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park

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Bask in the might of the Athabasca Glacier while you reflect on the impact global warming has on nature. The gentle roped-off trail will lead you right up to the toe of the glacier and through limestone areas that were covered in ice not too long ago.

If you have the time and want to experience a glacier up close and personal, you can sign up for a guided glacier walk (usually upwards of $100). Do not attempt to walk on the glacier on your own – it is extremely dangerous as you could fall into hidden crevasses and be fatally injured.

Tip: Glaciers have a microclimate of their own, so even on hot summer days, it can be very cold and extremely windy on this trail. Bring a hat and jacket.

  • Difficulty Level: 1 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 60m
  • Distance: 1.4km return
  • Time: 1 hour

How to get there: The trailhead is located just opposite the Icefield Centre off the Icefields Parkway

Best hikes in Jasper – Moderate

Get your heart pumping and work up a sweat with these moderate hikes in Jasper

Wilcox Pass

Top hikes in jasper
Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park

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With a little bit of everything, Wilcox Pass is one of the top hikes Jasper has to offer. If you’re driving from Banff along the Icefields Parkway, consider stopping here for some fresh air and a moderate hike to stretch your legs.

Starting in the woods, the trail brings you to alpine meadows and a steep ridge with amazing views out to the Athabasca Glacier and surrounding peaks. Wilcox Pass is a great place to spot some bighorn sheep as well!

Tip: The trail can get very windy especially at the higher altitudes. Bring a windbreaker and protect your valuables. Take a break and snap some photos at the iconic red chairs.

  • Difficulty Level: 3 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 520m
  • Distance: 9.7km return
  • Time: 3-4 hours

How to get there: The trailhead is on the left of the Wilcox Creek Campground, 3km south of the Icefields Discovery Centre.

Edith Cavell Meadows

One of the most sought after trails in Jasper, the Edith Cavell Meadows trail has just about everything you could want in a hike. Mountain views, glaciers, and lush wildflower-filled meadows greet you at every turn.

The trail starts off paved and leads you to the Angel Glacier lookout point. Ascend meadows and forests to the second viewpoint. Continue up the very steep section of trail if you want to go to the third viewpoint and summit, where you can enjoy 360-degree views of Jasper National Park

Tip: Take the loop section clockwise to have a gentler descent. The trail is closed from early October to mid-July due to muddy conditions.

  • Difficulty Level: 3 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 500m
  • Distance: 6km return
  • Time: 2-3.5 hours

How to get there: Drive 12km south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, and turn right at Mt. Edith Cavell Rd. Do note that this road is very narrow and steep. Campervans and trailers are prohibited.

Best hiking trails in jasper
Edith Cavell Meadows, Jasper, Canada

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Opal Hills

Opal Hills is consistently ranked as one of the top hikes in Jasper National Park. The spectacular alpine meadows full of colorful wildflowers, inspiring mountain views, babbling streams, and lush greenery make this hike very popular.

Don’t be put off by the steep climb that greets you right off the bat – trust us when we say the views at the end will be worth the effort for this unique and varied hike!

Tip: We recommend hiking the trail clockwise for the best views and a gentler descent. Hiking in spring or early summer is the best time to experience the wildflowers in full bloom.

  • Difficulty Level: 3 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 460m
  • Distance: 8.2km loop
  • Time: 3-5 hours

How to get there: From Highway 16, turn right on Maligne Lake Rd. Drive to the end of this beautiful road and arrive at the Maligne parking lot. The trailhead starts from the northeast corner of the lot.

Best hikes in jasper national park
Opal Hills, Jasper National Park

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Best Hikes in Jasper – Difficult

Sulphur Skyline

The Sulphur Skyline trail is a highly recommended, fairly challenging half-day summit hike that will reward you with some of the most breathtaking views of the Jasper National Park skyline.

Starting with a steep climb, you will continue ascending the mountain to the summit, with the last part of the hike being the steepest. Keep your spirits up because the views at the top are phenomenal!

Tip: End your hike by soaking in the Miette Hot Springs, the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies. Just make sure to make it back down the trail before closing time!

  • Difficulty Level: 4 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 700m
  • Distance: 7.7km return
  • Time: 4-5 hours

How to get there: Trailhead is located behind the Miette Springs Building

Best hikes in Jasper
Sulphur Skyline, Jasper National Park

Photo by Neil Rosenstech on Unsplash

Bald Hills

Conquer three different peaks on this challenging adventure, one of the best hiking trails in Jasper. Consisting of fairly steep climbs punctuated by gorgeous alpine meadows, the trail then branches out into a loop portion to reach the summit. 

Depending on the route you take in the loop, the trail varies from a steep, short hike with small scrambles (left path) or a longer but gentler ascent (right path). Either path will take you to the top where you can enjoy sweeping views of Maligne Lake and the surrounding peaks. Make sure you hike the ridge loop too for more impressive views.

Tip: Pack a lunch to enjoy at the peak after working up an appetite on this legendary full-day hike. Take the loop portion clockwise to save your knees during the descent.

  • Difficulty Level: 4 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 708m
  • Distance: 13.2km loop
  • Time: 4-6 hours

How to get there: Trailhead starts from the big car park at the far side of Maligne Lake, approximately 50km from Jasper town

Verdant Pass

One of the best-kept secret hikes in Jasper, Verdant Pass is a beautiful lesser-known full-day hike perfect for those looking for more solitude, peace, and quiet. The long trail has several steep inclines, and the paths are not very obvious and quite difficult to navigate. 

There are several viewpoints along the route where you can turn back, but if you persevere, you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the mountain pass and alpine meadows. We recommend that only experienced hikers attempt the full trail.

Tip: the trail is home to many bugs during certain times of the year, so bug spray is essential.

  • Difficulty Level: 5 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 780m
  • Distance: 19.3km return
  • Time: 6-8 hours

How to get there: Park near the Edith Cavell Hostel at the end of Mt Edith Cavell Rd and find the Tonquin Valley/Astoria River Trailhead.

Whistler Mountain

While we listed Whistler Mountain as a difficult hike, there is also an easy route up using the tram part way up. Get the best of both by hiking up and taking the tram down. 

If you choose to hike, be prepared for a full day of steep climbs through dense shrubbery. Once you reach the peak, you will enjoy views of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies

Tip: If you’re up for it, continue to the Indian ridge trail for a less crowded hike with breathtaking views. You might even meet some marmot along the way!

  • Difficulty Level: 5 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 1200m
  • Distance: up to 15.4 km depending on the route
  • Time: 3-5 hours

How to get there: Park at the base of the Jasper Skytram. The trail starts here.

top hikes in jasper national park
Whistler Mountain, Jasper National Park

Photo by Shawn Lee on Unsplash

Multi-day Hikes in Jasper

Immerse yourself in the sublime natural beauty Jasper has to offer by doing a multi-day hiking adventure.

Skyline Trail

The Skyline trail is considered to be one of the top hikes in Jasper. Experience the raw, powerful forces of nature while you hike through amazing mountain passes and panoramic views.

Most of the 48-km hike is above the treeline, giving you unparalleled views through the clouds to the vast mountain ranges

Tip: There are plenty of campsites along the trail but make sure you book your campsite and shuttle back to Maligne Lake Rd parking lot in advance

  • Difficulty Level: 4 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 1380m
  • Distance: 48km one way (take the shuttle back)
  • Time: 3-4 days

How to get there: The most popular trailhead is at the end of Maligne Lake Rd. Other trailheads are Wabasso Lake, Signal Mountain, and Watchtower.

Tonquin Valley

Best winter hikes jasper
Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park

Photo by jasper guy on Unsplash

The picturesque Tonquin Valley trail brings you through several gorgeous lakes, viewpoints, and forests, making this one of the best trails in Jasper for backpacking and camping.

If you are a seasoned hiker, this is an epic way to spend a few days in Jasper’s wilderness. The campsites along the horseshoe-shaped trail are some of the best in Alberta and offer fantastic sunrises and views. The length of the trail means few people attempt it, so if you hate crowds, this hike is for you.

The highlights of the Tonquin Valley hike are the majestic Ramparts, a jagged set of 10 peaks that loom over the glittering Amethyst Lakes in the foreground. You may even catch a glimpse of the endangered Woodland caribou along the way.

There are two trailheads (Portal and Astoria) which also serve as ending points depending on which one you choose to start at. To complete the loop, have a car at your endpoint. We suggest parking at the Portal trailhead and hitchhiking to Astoria trailhead to start your hike.

Tip: The Astoria Trailhead is closed in the winter until Feb 15. You can also complete the trail without a tent as there are accommodation options along the trail. Just be sure to book early.

  • Difficulty Level: 3.5 / 5
  • Elevation gain: 500-700m depending on starting point
  • Distance: 45.4 one way
  • Time: 3-5 days

How to get there: Astoria trailhead is located across the road from Edith Cavell Hostel. Portal Trailhead is located on Marmot Basin Rd, just off the Icefields Parkway

What is the best time to hike in Jasper

Summer (June-September) is the best time to hike in Jasper and is the peak of the hiking season. Do note that June can get a bit rainy, while July and August are the most crowded, and have higher chances of forest fires. 

Most lakes in Jasper will be frozen even in late spring and sometimes early summer. Come starting June if you’re looking forward to turquoise blue waters.

September is a wonderful time to hike due to fewer crowds and the start of fall foliage, but the days are shorter and the weather may not be as nice as in the middle of summer.

Hiking in winter is great if you want to avoid crowds. You can rent or buy crampons or ice spikes in Jasper town – these are essential for traversing the icy trails.

Things you should know before hiking in Jasper

Before you start hiking in Jasper, here are several things you should know to prepare yourself:

  • Jasper is divided into 5 main sections: Icefields Parkway, Maligne Canyon, Miette Hot Springs, Edith Cavell, and Jasper town AreaThese are geographic areas used to group trailheads or starting points.
  • Jasper can be accessed via Calgary (5 hours drive) or Edmonton (4 hours drive). We recommend arriving in Calgary and driving up through Banff and along the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic routes in the world.
  • All visitors to Jasper National Park need a park permit. A day pass costs $10 CAD per adult or $20 CAD for groups of up to 7 people. If you’re planning on staying in Jasper/Banff for more than a week, get an annual Discovery Pass. For express entry into the park, buy your park passes in advance online. 
  • Jasper can get quite crowded during peak seasons. Make sure you book your campsites/accommodation well in advance and aim to arrive at your trailheads super early to avoid congestion and parking trouble. 
  • Some trails require a minimum number of hikers in a group due to bear risks. If you’re traveling alone, wait at the trailhead to be grouped up with other solo hikers.
  • Jasper is open year-round, but trails can be covered in ice or snowed in any day of the year. Always check for warnings and closures through the official Parks Canada website
Best hikes in Jasper
Jasper National Park, AB, Canada

Photo by Mathew Janzen on Unsplash

Things to watch out for when hiking in Jasper

Weather & Conditions

Always double-check weather and trail conditions before hiking. The fickle weather means it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Keep tabs on any trail closures, alerts, or restrictions that may affect your itinerary. The best way to check is through the official Parks Canada website

Forest fires & Avalanches

Forest fires occur naturally in most summers and may cause breathing discomfort, poor visibility, and closures to trails, roads, trails, and campgrounds. Always keep yourself updated.

Avalanches can happen at any time of the year, but particularly between November and June. Take note of signboards indicating avalanche risk areas and do not enter these areas without avalanche training and equipment. 

Wildlife

Jasper is home to bears, wolves, cougars, bighorn sheep, elk, and many other wildlife species. Stay away from any animals you may see, ensure your food and trash are packed securely, and remember: it is illegal to feed the wildlife! 

Although wildlife sightings are exciting, wild animals should not be approached. They could seriously injure you. Make noise while you hike – sing, clap, stomp, or talk at regular intervals to alert the wildlife of your presence.

Best hikes in Jasper
Jasper National Park, AB, Canada

Photo by Wenhao Ji on Unsplash

Things to bring

Like most alpine areas, Jasper’s weather can turn from sweltering hot to icy cold within minutes. You might experience all 4 seasons along your hike, so dressing in layers is the best way to protect yourself from those extremes.

Keeping your energy levels up and your body hydrated is essential. Bring lots of snacks and water – although the lakes and streams may look clean, they might contain parasites. Here is a list of things to bring when hiking in Jasper.

Essentials

  • Travel insurance
  • Trail guide and map/directions
  • Comfortable lightweight backpack
  • Comfortable waterproof hiking boots/shoes
  • Waterproof jacket/windbreaker
  • Rain poncho
  • Compressible down jacket
  • Thermal base layers
  • Hiking socks
  • Quick-dry hiking pants
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Hat and gloves
  • Energy bars/snacks
  • Reusable water bottle/thermos
  • Insect spray
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Emergency blanket

Gear

  • Bear spray
  • Cellphone/satellite phone
  • Hiking poles
  • Headlamp or flashlight and spare batteries
  • Solar-powered power bank/battery pack
  • Watch
  • Extra set of warm clothing
  • Camera and small tripod

Extras

  • Binoculars
  • Cash
  • Hammock
  • Face cover/mask
  • Water purification system
  • Hiking knife
  • Wet wipes & hand sanitizer

If camping/multi-day hiking

  • Everything listed above
  • Tent
  • Printed Camping reservations
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Inflatable Pillow
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sandals
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Medicine & Toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Portable Stove and gas
  • Foldable chair
  • Firestarter
  • Cookware Set
  • Cutlery/spork 
Best trails in jasper
Jasper National Park, AB, Canada

Photo by Christine Donaldson on Unsplash

While Banff gets most of the attention, Jasper is just as stunning – if not more so! There’s no shortage of epic hikes and remarkable vistas to discover. Be blown away by the diverse landscapes that welcome outdoor explorers to experience the best hikes in Jasper. 

Take advantage of Jasper’s quaint underrated charm and sparser crowds. Revel in the jaw-dropping natural beauty that surrounds you as you hike through lush meadows, evergreen forests, incredible glaciers, majestic mountains, and clear blue waters. 

So which of these Jasper best trails are you adding to your bucket list?

14 Best hikes in Jasper

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