It's an official travel blog as of now. We will provide some information about the hikes we did and the sights we've seen in and around Jasper and Banff. So if you're looking for some inspiration for your upcoming trip or you just want some bonus stories, this blog is for you!
Jasper National Park
Jasper is a cozy little town surrounded by beautiful mountains (challenge: try to spot the Indian head mountain from the town center). There are some nice restaurants and shops, perfect for an afternoon stroll and some refreshing ice cream. You don't need to drive/ride your bike/hitchhike far to have a cool day in nature.
Elevation: +/- 1400 D+
Time: 1-3 days
This was supposed to be an amazing hike, almost completely above the treeline. But for us it turned out to be a rainy affair... We read that most people hike it in three days, so that was our original plan. Since you have to reserve your campsites in advance, we called the Parks department. They gave us: little shovel campground and watchtower campground. This is not ideal because little shove is only 8,5km from the trailhead and watchtower is somewhere in the middle but 3km off the trail. But yeah, that's life.
So the hike to little shove was easy peasy (lemon squeeze). The next morning we woke up early, thinking that watchtower would be a 27km hike. Oopsie, miscalculation. It turned out that we reached the turn-off for watchtower campground only after three hours hiking (+/- 11km). At that point it was 9:30AM, so we decided to just do the rest of the trail in one go (ending with a 38km day). The weather was pretty shitty anyway, it was cold and rainy, so this was the right decision for us.
The majority of people do this hike in 3 days. But in our opinion, it's very doable in 2 days as well. If you really want a challenge you can even trailrun/fast hike it in 1 day.
Valley of the five lakes
Elevation: 250 D+
Time: 2,5 hours
This is an easier one. We did this hike right after Jenne and Jonas arrived from Edmonton (4 hour drive). It takes you around five stunningly beautiful mountain lakes. We went around all five lakes, but if your not feeling up to it, you can take a shortcut between First and Second lake (cutting the distance practically in half). Despite it being pretty busy and touristy, this is worth doing. If enjoy more peace and quite, we recommend doing the whole loop, since there are less people around First lake.
Opal hills & Maligne lake
Elevation: +/- 550 D+
Time: 3 hours
The opal hills trail starts off with steep and long climb through the forest. Once you get higher up, you'll be rewarded with stunning mountain views and maligned lake in the valley. Our first plan was to hike up to the meadow and then continue climbing up the Ridgeline above. But Jenne started getting blisters on her heels and couldn't really enjoy the hike anymore. So we decided to do the "regular" hike through the meadow instead.
We did do a little extra out-and-back to a viewpoint to have lunch. It goes to the right just before the trail turns left onto the meadow. It's a little extra climb, but it's really worth the view!
This hike is ideal to combine with a visit to Maligne lake. Right after we finished the trail, we went down to the lake. Spent a little time taking pictures and enjoying the views. Considered drinking something in the restaurant, but it was 10$ for a beer, so we returned to Jasper and had ice cream instead.
Maligne canyon and Mount Edith Cavell
Distance: 4km (Maligne canyon), +/- 6km (Mount Edith Cavell)
Elevation: 150 D+ (Maligne canyon), +/- 300 D+ (Mount Edith Cavell)
Time: 1,5 hours (Maligne canyon), 2-3 hours (Mount Edith Cavell)
We knew this was a popular spot, so we got up early to get there before the busses of Chinese tourist and other day hikers. Which turned out to be a very good decision. On the way down, we almost had the trail to ourselves, we could enjoy regular stops to take pictures without being disturbed and learn about the canyon and surroundings on the informational boards. Yes, we went full tourist on this one!
Since we were done quite early we had some time to kill. So we looked on our map and decided to go to Mount Edith Cavell, a 45min drive from Jasper. From the parking it's a 2km hike towards the little glacier lake by the foot of the mountain. It's a really nice place to be, so make sure to bring some lunch and some coffee and just sit and soak up the views!
Distance: not a hike
Elevation: not a hike
Time: not a hike
If you are planning on taking the icefields parkway (and you should!!!), don't rush it! We traveled by bike, so for us that isn't really possible. There are lots of stops along the way. We stopped at the Athabasca and Sunwapta falls. Which are very impressive, but we didn't spend much time there. They were just nice breaks from cycling.
Our day ended at the Columbia Icefields. After a good climb you start to see the Athabasca glacier in the distance. We don't know why, but it's always cool to see glacier. Especially from closeby. However, it's kind of sad to see how fast the glacier is melting. There were markers on the ground with years at what point the glacier reached there... It makes you think about your impact on the planet. At that point we were really glad that we are traveling by bike!
The next day we continued towards Banff. We really cycled with our jaws almost dropped to the floor, and not because we were panting so much, but because the scenery got amazing! There were rugged mountains all around us and the lakes are the bluest we've ever seen. Make sure to stop at one to take in the view properly and if it's a hot day maybe even take a short swim!
Time: as much as you like
First of all, we were really not impressed by lake Louise after cycling the icefields parkway. You always hear how beautiful it is and how you can't miss it in your trip. Maybe we are a bit biased because we've already seen quite a lot of glacier lakes, but to us lake Louise was nothing special and especially very exploited for tourism. Nevertheless, purely on location and appearance it's beautiful. But is it worth paying 13$ parking or 25$ for a bus (because the parking is always full!!)? We don't really think so...
Elevation: +/- 1200 D+
Time: 1-3 days
Similar hike to the Skyline trail, only it is a loop. Which makes it a little more practical. The first 8km are a little boring to be honest. It's a pretty long and tedious climb surrounded by trees. But your hard work will more than pay off once you get over Blouder pass. You'll be treated with beautiful mountain lakes and different sceneries around every corner. Really we can't get over how beautiful this hike was!
Like the Skyline trail, most people do it in three days, but from our experience on the Skyline we decided to do it in two. There's a campground called: red deer lakes, which is pretty much right in the middle of the trail. We slept there and it worked out perfectly!
That's it for the bonus blog. We hope you got some useful information or inspiration out of it. Or just enjoyed reading it anyway. If you have any questions about specifics, you can always DM us on Instagram, leave a comment on one of our YouTube videos or send us an email. Right now we are getting ready to head West towards Vancouver. After spending a week together with Jenne and Jonas we are really excited to continue our journey!