Jasper National Park, Alberta The most beautiful part of the Maligne Canyon hike is to admire the formations made made mother nature – this narrow stone canyon have all sort of shapes you could not imagine water was able carve out! The water is thrashing it’s way down the canyon and lots of green moss is hanging down over the rocks. It’s could easily be taken out of one of scenes in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
We decided to start our hike at the 6th bridge and walk up towards the canyon. This allows you to experience the less crowded part of the trail and also see how the canyon transition from nice and calm waters to wild and wicked waterfalls.
Ready to start the hike from the 6th bridge – looks like it is going to be a great day!
Beautiful scenery and clear green waters on the lower parts of the trial
If you pay attentions while hiking along this canyon you can see water coming directly out of the canyon walls! More about that later.
Expect waterfalls and lots of crossing of bridges. There are in total 6 bridges on this hike where you will cross the canyon offering stunning scenery. In addition there are several viewing platform. If you prefer ‘off the beaten path’ hikes this is not the hike for you, as you might already have caught up on. But Maligne Canyon is a natural feature in Jasper National Park and worth fighting the crowds for. We did the hike in peak season (October) and it was not too crowded.
When you get to the fourth bridge is when it starts getting crowded. The crowds park at the top of the canyon and most of them make it down to the fourth bridge, but not many go further. At this point you start to understand why the canyon is called Maligne Canyon – Maligne is french for evil or wicked. Check out the beautiful rock formations! Combined with the clear green water is it a stunning view.
Where does the water come from?
During the hike you notice that the river at 6th bridge seems to carry much more water than the falls at the top of the canyon, so where does all the water come from? Medicine Lake is the source, from the lake the water enters an large underground cave system and re-surfaces as springs along the Maligne Canyon adding to the water masses flowing down the gorge.
My somewhat subjective hiking rating:
Trail: Start from parking/picnic area at the sixth bridge and walk up towards the canyon. You will start with fairly calm waters and the further up you come the canyon will be deeper and more dramatic. When you get up to the third bridge it usually gets more busy on the trail as most of the tourist buses stop at the top of the canyon and the passengers usually don’t wander much further down than the second or third bridge. But I would high recommend starting at the sixth bridge as it is well worth the extra kilometres.
Worth it? Yes, rewarding with little strain.
Length: 7.4 km round trip
Elevation gain: Approx. 100 meters
Duration: 2-3 hours
Kid friendly: Yes! There are railings on the path when you get to the deeper part of the canyon. If you have small kids who can’t walt to far you can always start at the top of the canyon and just do the short loop.
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