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Mona Lake

Jasper National Park

July 22nd, 2009

2.9 miles
450 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:21

Starting elevation
5591 feet
Max elevation
5869 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Jasper townsite, take highway 16 east. Turn right and follow the signs to Maligne Canyon Road. Follow the road all the way to the large parking lot at the end. The trailhead is on the west side of the parking lot, on the other side of the road. Be sure not to take the trailhead at the very corner, as that's a different trail.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

The parking lot was completely full when we arrived at 12:30pm. In fact, there were already cars parked on the side of the road. We did so as well, finding a spot relatively close to the Skyline Trail trailhead. At the trailhead we met a couple of backpackers just getting started. They asked me to take their picture, and I was happy to oblige. The Skyline Trail is a popular 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip that climbs up and then eventually ends up further north on Maligne Canyon Road. Our destination today would be much closer.

The trail

We started off on the wide, straight trail as it climbed gently. The trail is mostly encompassed by a dense forest. The trees, while packed tightly, are fairly thin and without much in the way of large branches and leaves. We also saw mushrooms and Indian paintbrush flowers. A handful of hikers passed us here and there, but it was a generally quiet uncrowded trail.

Looking back at the forested trail

After about a mile, we crossed a stream. At about 1.1 miles, we saw a spur trail to the left which goes to Lorraine Lake. I'd read that Mona Lake was bigger and not much further, so we decided not to visit Lorraine Lake. There's a small pond visible from the trail here, but that's not actually Lorraine Lake -- it sits a little further in, mostly hidden by the trees.

Instead, we continued on the main trail. At about 1.4 miles we reached the spur trail to the right for Mona Lake. We followed this trail down the hill for about a tenth of a mile until we came to surprisingly beautiful Mona Lake. Perhaps it was the hike through the forest without much in the way of views, or it was the disappointing sight of the small pond near Lorraine Lake; in either case, Mona Lake was a very pleasant surprise.

Looking north across Mona Lake

Beautiful green of Mona Lake

Flower next to Mona Lake

The smaller end of the lake, which is where we landed, is a beautiful green color. The lake is refreshingly clear, allowing us to see the rocks on the lake floor. Past that, it looks like the lake drops off steeply after that, becoming deep quickly. Although the lake is encircled by dense forest, impressive mountains rise up above the forest on the northern side of the lake. We stopped here for a late lunch. We had the place mostly to ourselves, with just a couple other groups stopping briefly. Other than that, the only other voices we heard were backpackers continuing on the Skyline Trail to the west of the lake.

Looking north from the shore of Mona Lake

Another view of the green of Mona Lake

After lunch we returned the way we came.

Looking through the trees to Lorraine Lake from the main trail

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