The Opal Hills hike in Jasper National Park is exhilarating, with a unique beauty that casts a spell on the hikers who make it through the steep trail – moving up to a lush meadow and beautiful mountains. This is truly one of the best hikes in Jasper.
Head north from Jasper on Highway 16 until you reach Maligne Lake Rd. Turn right on this road and continue along it for its entirety. At the end of the road, park as far to the left as possible in the lot before the hotel (the first lot).
|When to do|
June through October
Out and back
From the parking lot, the trailhead is on the far-left side of the lot and it is excellently signposted. While the early section of the trail is a short flat approach across a pleasant field, it will quickly be interrupted by a notoriously steep path. This trail will ascend through partially burnt forest for approximately 0.5km, where you will then encounter a junction. It is best to do the loop counterclockwise, as this will grant the best views and will save your shins on a gentler downhill.
Continue to the right of the junction and maintain the steep grade to climb for another kilometer. You will find yourself emerging into a stunning mountain meadow. This meadow has no trees, just shrubbery and wildflowers. This is definitely the most beautiful part of the hike, with limited views across the valley but majestic panoramas of the symmetrical mountains, which adorn the meadow. Looking across Maligne Lake you can see Bald Hills, another fantastic hike!
Continue along the flat meadow and look up to the scree sided mountain which surround the valley. This mountain has the beautiful name of Peak 45-36. Crossing the valley, find the path that begins to descend again down to the tree line. This side of the path has a gentler grade and passes several small clearings blanketed with more wildflowers. Continue down on the only path and make sure you don’t fall on the steep grade!
The drive to this hike is incredible, and many people stop to take pictures. Be very careful if you choose to stop and get out of your car, as this road can be busy in summer.
This is great to combine with a Maligne Lake Boat Cruise.
Snacks can be found at the Maligne Lake Gift shop, just up from the Boat House.
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