Distance: half-day or backpack, allow 2 hours one way (or more if you plan on taking photos)
Access: Follow Highway 93A to the Geraldine Lakes Fire Road. Follow this road 5.5km to the trail head. You will pass the Fryatt Valley trail head on the way.
Tip: Bring good hiking boots for this trip, ankle hugging boots are especially important to keep from twisting anything while traversing over the massive boulder fields.
Geraldine Lakes hike is one of the most interesting hikes I’ve done in Jasper. It’s also one of the most interesting destinations to try and get to. The road to the trail head is extremely rough, I often find myself praying that my Kia will make it all the way. Don’t plan on bringing your lowered BMW on this road unless you’re ready to pay for a missing bumper.
The variety of this trail is immense, and it can be hiked in a day or two. If you’re not equipped for serious hiking, the first 1.8km will get you to the first lake via easy dirt trails (although if it’s rained, it will be very muddy). So all around it’s a great hike for everyone looking for something beautiful and worthwhile at the end of the hike.
Once you get past the first lake, follow a trail that lines the lake until you get to a boulder field which I recommend you tread slowly and surely. After this you attempt a steep climb beside a 90-m waterfall that cascades into the lower lake. At the top of the falls is a short valley which includes a small pond in the large boulder field. Once you’ve finished this part of the hike there is another steep, rough scramble to the top of another impressive waterfall. If you look back at this point you can see where you’ve come from, it’s really quite beautiful. If you keep going you find the largest Geraldine lake.
It is at this point that many people stop, however if you’re of the adventurous type you can keep following a rough trail along the shoreline until you reach Geraldine Lake Campground. There is no official trail beyond this point however it is possible to scramble another 4 km to a set of higher lakes and the magnificent 1000-m northwest wall of Mount Fryatt.
I’ve done this hike twice before. The first time I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into and went as it was beginning to rain. It was unbelievably muddy for the first 2.5 km, then the boulder field was extremely slippery. Not my brightest moment…
The second I was a lot smarter and went with three other people. It was a beautiful day out, although the day before it had rained. It was a bit muddy from the rain before, but the rocks were dry and the waterfalls were magnificent. I recommend you wait until it’s dry to do this hike, it’s one of the best hikes in the park, although not as well known to tourists.
Oh, and don’t be alarmed by the number of marmots you find running around. The rocks provide excellent protection from predators and the sun on a hot day, when occasionally one or two can be found lounging on a rock, sun bathing. Going in the summer is your best bet, there are interesting plants (including brightly coloured mushrooms the size of a medium saucepan) and lots of small wildlife (or not, we saw a huge porcupine on the way back).