Maligne Canyon Hike Jasper National Park Canada

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.

 

Looking down to the Maligne River Canyon Jasper National Park Canada

Looking down to the Maligne River Canyon Jasper National Park Canada

In case you are wondering the pronunciation for Maligne is Muh-LEEN and not Muh-LINE :)

 

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A tranquil pool in the Maligne Canyon walking trail Jasper Alberta

A tranquil pool in the Maligne Canyon walking trail Jasper Alberta

 

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.

Related: Mistaya Canyon Hike Icefields Parkway Banff

 

Maligne Canyon hike info and trail distance signage

Maligne Canyon hike info and trail distance signage

 

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.

 

Suspended rocks - shaped like hearts at Maligne Canyon Jasper

Two heart-shaped rocks suspended between the canyon walls. Maligne Canyon is more narrow at the top.

 

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!

 

Hiking alongside Maligne River near 5th bridge of Maligne Canyon trail

Hiking alongside Maligne River near 5th bridge of Maligne Canyon trail

 

Maligne Canyon hiking trail is beautiful and it’s a well marked trail so it’s a good choice for solo hikers.

 

Maligne Canyon trail from 5th bridge leads through the forest

Maligne Canyon trail from 5th bridge leads through the forest

 

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.

 

5th bridge at Maligne Canyon Jasper

5th bridge at Maligne Canyon Jasper

 

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.

 

6th bridge and a backdrop of evergreen trees at Maligne Canyon hike

6th bridge and a backdrop of evergreen trees at Maligne Canyon hike

 

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.

Because it’s a longer drive from Calgary to Jasper (5 hours) compared to Banff (1.5 hours) and Lake Louise, you’ll find fewer tourists. 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!

 

Maligne River canyon

The Maligne River Canyon is a beauty!

 

In 2019 the most popular campground in Jasper, Whisters Campground, is closed for renovations so that brings the number of visitors down a lot – there are 781 campsites at Whisters. The campground is scheduled to reopen in spring 2020.

 

The view of the tree lined Maligne River from 6th Bridge

The view of the tree lined Maligne River from 6th Bridge

 

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!

 

Stairs at Maligne Canyon hiking trail

There are several sets of stairs at Maligne Canyon

 

Beautiful pool of water and small waterfall at Maligne River in Jasper National Park

Beautiful pool of water and small waterfall at Maligne River in Jasper National Park

 

Let’s get back to the hike at Maligne Canyon now!

 

Maligne Canyon trail map

Maligne Canyon trail map

 

Maligne Canyon Hike Info

Type of hike: Loop

Distance: 4.4 km (2.75 miles)

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: 100 m (328 ft)

 

Heart shaped chockstones at Maligne Canyon

Heart shaped chockstones at Maligne Canyon

 

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.

 

Maligne Canyon Jasper 4th bridge

Maligne Canyon Jasper 4th bridge

 

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.

 

View of the Maligne River canyon from 4th bridge Maligne Canyon Jasper

At 4th Bridge you’ll find this amazing view of the slot canyon and the Maligne River

 

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.

 

Jasper Maligne Canyon view from bridge

Jasper Maligne Canyon view from bridge

 

When I started the hike at 8:30 in the morning there was nobody else at this section of the trail.

 

Waterfall at Maligne Canyon Jasper National Park

Maligne Canyon is 50 meters deep – this waterfall near 2nd Bridge is stunning to see and hear!

 

Watch this short video of the waterfall at Maligne Canyon

 

 

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.

 

View of Maligne Canyon 5th bridge over Maligne River and mountain range in the background

View of Maligne Canyon 5th bridge over Maligne River and mountain range in the background

 

Bridge 5 and Bridge 6 are also the most interesting in appearance.

 

View of 6th bridge from along the Maligne River in Jasper

View of 6th bridge from along the Maligne River in Jasper

 

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.

 

Wooden bench near 6th bridge at Maligne Canyon trail in Jasper AB

Perfect picnic bench overlooking the Maligne River where it meets the Athabasca River

 

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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Maligne Canyon Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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