A relatively new tradition Josh and I have is to go hiking for our wedding anniversary. We started this randomly three years ago on our ninth wedding anniversary when we ended up hiked Wilcox Pass on our anniversary, and last year part of the Berg Lake Trail (although that was technically not ON our anniversary date due to bad planning on my part) This year we decided to do Valley of The Five Lakes.
Summer had been unusually rainy this year, but we lucked out as it stormed like mad the night before and it turned out to be a sunny day! Finally, a chance to soak up some sun. This trail is close to Jasper, so we thought it was going to be busy, but once we got past the first bridge and into the trees the crowd seemed to disburse. We also took the trail in the opposite way as everyone else had gone.
The first bit of the trail is kind of boring and no views. Just a regular forest trail with views of pine beetle damaged evergreens, then into an opening where you cross a bridge over what looks like a lazy river (and oh so refreshing!) and then head up and into the forest again.
I wish this photo did the wildflowers justice. This meadow was full of what I think are Gaillardia Aristata’s (Great Blanket Flower) blowing in the wind. It was impossible to take an in-focus, close up shot.
There were also a lot of Castilleja (Indian Paintbrush) flowers along the trail. I think we hit peak wildflower season (which I always somehow seem to miss) so this was a real treat!
By now it felt like we had walked forever in the scorching heat that we should finally be arriving at a lake. Wandering through the trail down the the lake, peering through the trees we spot the first majestic lake (Technically its Fifth Lake) on our hike and could not believe our eyes. The colours were absolutely unreal. All I could think about is kayaking through this lake to further explore the beautiful colours (but could not imagine carrying it there and back on that trail, sure it can fold into a backpack but it is awkward) There are rowboats that you can rent at this lake (no carrying needed but you would need to plan that in advance and get the key from the outfitters beforehand)
Fifth Lake was incredible, but coming to Fourth Lake I was speechless. The trail is higher than the lake so you can see more of it at once and can see the different colours. I could not get enough of it!
Flax flowers. These were also plentiful along parts of the trail.
Once we got to where we were in the photo above, we were probably about half-way through the hike. The clouds in the distance were rumbling and I saw lightning in the distance. At this point, we decided to not take our sweet time like we were, and put a bit of hustle in our step to make a move to get back to the Jeep before the storm came any closer. It was currently moving slow, but I am not fond of lightning storms to begin with so I wanted to get out of there. Better safe than sorry.
Those greens were wild!
Bear claw marks up the tree. I wonder how many people walk past this on a daily basis and not notice this? Always keep your eyes open, there are some pretty neat things along the trail aside from the “main features”. We got back to the trailhead, the wind started picking up, but we still had time to eat our sandwiches out on the picnic table. Just as we were packing up to go, it started to rain. Perfect timing! Was a wonderful anniversary hike! Already looking forward to next years.
More information on the Valley of the Five Lakes Loop can be found on AllTrails.
Please leave no trace when enjoying the outdoors!