Trail #9a, as described here, is found 6 miles south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), at a large parking area. Highway signs flag this as the Valley of the Five Lakes parking area. Both Trail #9a and Valley of the Five Lakes Trail
begin on the same path, at the same trailhead.
Trail #9a starts at a large trailhead sign in the northwest corner of the parking area, very near the toilets. This is also the starting point of Valley of the Five Lakes Trail
. One heads into the fir forest on a wide, well-maintained trail. A low ridge is crossed in the first half mile to arrive at small Wabasso Creek with its marshy banks. This creek is crossed on a boardwalk just above all the water. The trail then climbs another low ridge and reaches a trail junction at the 0.7 mile mark. Go right here to continue on Trail #9a.
The first pretty, turquoise and blue-green lake, Fifth Lake at its northwest end, comes into view at the 1.2 mile mark. Almost immediately, here at the end of Fifth Lake, Trail #9a veers left (northwest) to find more of these pretty lakes. Fourth Lake is soon passed, followed by Third Lake, then Second Lake, and finally the trail reaches the southeast corner of First Lake.
These lakes are all to the left (southwest) of the trail in small depressions and close to each other. From the northwest end of Third Lake, one can see Fourth Lake behind Third Lake and mountains in the distance, a very nice view. Third Lake and Fourth Lake are separated by a narrow isthmus with the trail leading to the isthmus. Venturing further out on this isthmus and to the lakes' shores is popular. Two Red Chairs are also here, overlooking Third Lake, to sit and enjoy the view.
At the southeast corner of First Lake, at the 1.8 mile mark, there is a trail junction with Trail #9b
to the left. Go straight (stay to the right) here to continue on Trail #9a. For the next 0.8 miles, to mile 2.6, the trail runs along the long, narrow First Lake. First Lake, with its turquoise waters, can be seen close by through the trees and below the trail. Several side paths lead down to the lake.
After passing First Lake, Trail #9a continues through the forest for another half mile, to end in the forest at a trail junction with Trail #9, after 3.1 total miles.