Maligne Canyon trail is located near the town of Jasper – it’s only a 15-minute drive from downtown Jasper. While you can access some hiking trails right from town it’s worth it to get out of town and drive (or bike) the Maligne Lake Road for some spectacular views in the Canadian Rockies.
Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Jasper National Park – and almost 2.5 million people visited the park last year.
Maligne is a slot canyon – over 50 meters deep and features beautiful waterfalls as you hike along the Maligne River. I’ve included Maligne Canyon in my roundup of waterfall hikes in Alberta – complete with video. There are lots of other cool things to do in Jasper too.
In case you are wondering the pronunciation for Maligne is Muh-LEEN and not Muh-LINE :)
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Interesting fact – more water flows OUT of Maligne Canyon than flows in via the river. How is that possible? Underground caves carry water from Medicine Lake area (about 14 km away) to the springs at Maligne Canyon.
Getting to Maligne Canyon from Jasper
- From downtown Jasper take Connaught Drive/AB-16A north for 2.5 km
- Turn left onto Hwy AB-16 (signs for Edmonton) and drive 2 km
- Turn right onto Maligne Lake Road and continue for 3 km and turn left (signs for 5th Bridge) OR continue another 3 km to the main parking lot (on the left) for Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon is more narrow at the top of the canyon – you’ll see the two chockstones shaped like hearts suspended near the top of the canyon.
During my recent solo trip to Jasper I choose to spend one day exploring the Maligne Valley – including Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake, and Maligne Lake.
I started my day with a hike in Maligne Canyon in the morning. Perfect choice!
Maligne Canyon hiking trail is beautiful and it’s a well marked trail so it’s a good choice for solo hikers.
The trail gets busy but when I arrived at 8:30 in the morning there were only 2 other cars at the 5th bridge parking lot. I expected to see the parking lot full.
And that’s one reason I parked at 5th bridge instead of at the main parking for Maligne Canyon by the restaurant, close to Bridge 1 on the trail.
Because most people park at the main parking lot and (I think) all the tour buses use that lot as well, the parking at 5th bridge or 6th bridge is a good choice especially during high season in Jasper during July and August.
Summer is high season pretty much everywhere in Canada, so the popular places get extra busy. If you’ve visited Banff in summer, you know it’s crowded with tourists and tons of tour buses. Jasper is now my favorite place to visit in Alberta in summertime.
I found there’s some beautiful kayaking spots in Jasper.
And the hiking in Jasper is just as incredible as Banff. Not to mention the drive from Banff to Jasper – the Icefields Parkway – is pretty freaking amazing!
In 2019 the most popular campground in Jasper, Whistlers Campground, closed for renovations so that brings the number of visitors down a lot – there are 781 campsites at Whistlers.
Whistlers campground was scheduled to reopen in spring 2020, now delayed until summer 2021.
When I booked my trip to Jasper it was kind of last minute – I booked it just 6 days in advance.
Luckily, I found a room at the Athabasca Hotel in downtown Jasper. It’s an older hotel with no elevator and no A/C – but location, location, location!!!
So, I paid $129 (CAD) per night for a great hotel room in Jasper and walked all around town and to the hiking trails. Jasper is small so it’s the perfect place to walk or bike.
Check the latest hotels prices and availability in Jasper and book now!
Let’s get back to the hike at Maligne Canyon now!
Maligne Canyon Hike Info
Type of hike: Loop
Distance: 4.4 km (2.75 miles)
Elevation gain: 100 m (328 ft)
I have read that some people think the Maligne Canyon hike is only worth doing the first to fourth bridge – they claim there is nothing to see after those. Well, that’s just not good advice.
While the hiking beyond 4th bridge at Maligne is not as dramatic, there are lots of beautiful views along the Maligne River.
Of course, if you are short on time then you may want to do a shorter hike at Maligne Canyon. Even if you only go as far as Bridge 1 and Bridge 2 you will get some beautiful views of the canyon.
I started at Bridge 5 and you have 2 trails to choose from – one along the river and one higher up. I did the hike along the river because I love the sound of the water.
When I started the hike at 8:30 in the morning there was nobody else at this section of the trail.
Within about 20 minutes I started seeing hikers coming the opposite direction. Another good reason to park at Bridge number 5 or 6 is that the heavy hiking traffic will be going the opposite direction.
Bridge 5 and Bridge 6 are also the most interesting in appearance.
Beyond Bridged 6 you can see the confluence of the Maligne River and the Athabasca River. There weren’t many people around when I visited the area.
I’m happy that I spent a day in the Maligne Valley and starting the day trip from Jasper with a lovely hike at Maligne Canyon was a good choice.
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