Maligne Lake and Canyon, Jasper National Park

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Maligne Lake is about 45 minutes drive from Jasper. It is a pleasant drive through trees and past Medicine Lake. There are two large parking areas by the lake and restaurant with good gift shop. This area does get busy with tourists and many don’t venture far from here, apart from taking a cruise on the lake to Spirit Island. There are a variety of walks which can be done from the car park.

We decided to follow the short Moose Lake loop which took us through the forest to Moose Lake before returning to the lake shore. This is one of the less popular walks and we saw no-one. It was a pleasant although unexciting walk.

Rather than return to the car we decided to explore a faint track which wasn’t waymarked and went the opposite way along the lake shore. This got increasingly rougher as we scrambled over rocks and round fallen trees. We followed it until it became too rough and then found a suitable rock by the edge of the lake for lunch. It felt like real wilderness – apart from the occasional cruise boat on the lake. We enjoyed waving to the punters on board.

Coming back down the road from Maligne Lake later in the afternoon, we saw our first ‘bear jam’. We turned a corner to find a coach, several RVs and a dozen cars parked all over the road with about 50 people rioting around trying to take pictures. As we wove our way round cars and people we got a glimpse of a black bear that was trying to have a quiet meal down a break in the trees 50 yards off the road. I felt sorry for the bear.


Maligne Canyon is a deep limestone gorge a short drive from Jasper, at the start of the road to Maligne Lake. Most people start the walk from the cafe at the top of the gorge and walk down for the photo shot. The one disadvantage of this is that it is a very steep climb back up.

We parked lower down the canyon at the sixth bridge. The car park was fairly empty and we saw few people along the lower stretches of the walk. We crossed the bridge to pick up the well marked track which ran along the side of the river. Here the valley is still fairly wide with steep sides. In places the limestone has become polished by feet and is slippery if wet. There are a number of places where underground springs flow into the canyon.

The track climbs all the way up the canyon, crossing from side to side across the bridges. As you climb the canyon gets deeper and the walls get closer. The views improve dramatically above the fourth bridge. The canyon is 50m deep at its deepest point and 2m wide. Standing on the bridges it is possible to peer down into the depths of the canyon.

Most people coming down from the top get as far as the third bridge and the path was getting very busy. At this point it also begins to climb very steeply to the second bridge where there is a path off to the cafe. We were glad we didn’t have to do this climb at the end of the walk.

We retraced our steps back to the car. This is a dramatic walk and we enjoyed it.

We visited during a five week trip to Canada. There is an overall report of the trip here

I have written a series of detailed reports for some of the places visited for Silver Travel.

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