There’s something magical about spending time together in the mountains. And there’s no more enchanting place to experience the mountains than Jasper National Park. At 11,228 square kilometres, Jasper is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, and home to the world’s second largest dark sky preserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jasper has nearly 1,000 km of official trails, including 200 km of trails that are accessible from the Jasper townsite.
Jasper is a great destination for a memorable outdoor holiday. Here are three of top hiking trails that Erin Steeves, Jasper National Park promotions officer, recommends for families to explore:
Lake Annette loop: 2.4 km return, easy
Take highway 16 heading east, turn onto the Maligne Lake Road. Take the first right heading toward Jasper Park Lodge, then turn left after one kilometre, just before the Jasper Park Lodge gates.
Once at Lake Annette, you’ll find a newly paved stroller- and wheelchair-accessible trail that hugs the lakeshore. There’s also a playground, and picnic area with fire pits.
“The Lake Annette loop is an excellent way to spend the day,” Erin says. “Bring your towel and relax in the sand.”
And at nearby Lake Edith, situated just north of Lake Annette, there’s a 4.9 km hiking loop.
Source of the Springs: 1.2 km return, moderate
Source of the Springs is 61 km from the Jasper townsite. Take Highway 16 east and turn right on Miette Road at the 44-km mark.
Walk through the ruins of the old pool buildings from Miette Hot Springs, and continue up along Sulphur Creek to the place where sulphurous water seeps out of the rock, to reach the natural source of the Miette Hot Springs. This is a fun hike because of everything you’ll see and experience along the way.
After your hike, you can soak in Miette Hot Springs -“one of the top things to do in Jasper National Park and one of Alberta’s best kept secrets,” Erin says.
Also nearby is the Sulphur Skyline trailhead, which Erin recommends for families with teens. This is a longer and more challenging hike: 8-km round trip, with 700 metres elevation gain but your reward is a stunning 360-degree view.
Lower Sunwapta Falls: 2.6 km return
Sunwapta Falls is situated 55 km south from the Jasper townsite along the Icefields Parkway. You can visit the main falls, and then head down to the lower falls. “It’s truly a hidden gem,” Erin says.
When to visit:
Summer 2017 is going to be especially busy, because of free entry into national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. However, Jasper is beautiful any time of the year!
If you’d like to visit Jasper, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and make a reservation.
Hotel accommodations: www.jasper.travel/where-to-stay/
Private home accommodations: stayinjasper.com
When you’re there:
Keep wildlife wild. Do not feed the animals, and leave them plenty of space. When hiking, make lots of noise – the sound of your voices will let them know you’re around. Bring bear spray as a precaution, and know how to use it. If camping, keep a ‘bare campsite’ when you’re out on the trail.
Bring clothes for all weather – cold, rain, heat and wind. Staying dry, comfy and cosy will help keep everyone happy and able to enjoy your mountain holiday in one of Canada’s most spectacular national parks, as you and your family create memories to last a lifetime.