Maligne Canyon Hike

Jasper, Alberta

Just a few miles outside of Jasper is the scenic Maligne Canyon, formed by the rushing waters of the Maligne River.  The river is crossed by six pedestrian bridges as it moves through the canyon (OK, five, as one was a suspension bridge that is no longer there).  Bridge six is at the bottom of the canyon where the river is fairly wide and calm.  Bridge one is at the top of the canyon where the water flow is small as it drops into the canyon.  There is a parking area at the first bridge where bus loads of tourists can walk a paved trail crossing the first three bridges which are very close to each other.  We chose to park at the sixth bridge and hike up the length of the canyon from the bottom to the top.

Bridge six

The Maligne River is wide and fairly calm at this point

The hike up the canyon is only about two miles, but the change in the river along the way  is very interesting.  If you read our blog post on Medicine Lake a few days ago you may remember that Medicine Lake appears to have no outlet.  The lake is very full during spring and summer but is almost empty in the winter.  Where did the water go?  The answer is into the Maligne River in this canyon.  The water from the lake travels through underground streams for about ten miles before re-appearing in the Maligne River.  As we hiked up the river we could see many spots where streams of water appeared from under the rocks.  At one point the trail left the main river to go around a small stream.  We thought we would cross the small steam over a bridge, but it turns out the trail led “around” the stream.  The stream just appeared from the base of the hillside.

The stream “appears” from the hillside

As we moved up the canyon the river narrowed and the clear water became a beautiful aqua color.  The trail began to climb up the canyon wall away from the river so we scrambled down the side and made our way on the rocks next to the water.  Other hikers stayed on the trail, so we had this part of the canyon all to ourselves.

Lunch with a view

He can’t resist!

The water was clear and Caribbean blue

Waterfalls, small and large, constantly added water to the river.  Some were easy to see, as the one in the picture below.  Others were hidden as the water seeped out of the rocks.

As we moved up the canyon the water flow lessened, but the canyon narrowed, keeping the current strong as it moved through the rock channel.

Bridge four crosses the narrow canyon

The low water volume at this time of the year revealed many dry channels and many potholes that are filled during the spring thaw.

Bridge two crossed the canyon

At the top of the canyon the water flows through a series of narrow channels in the rock just before dropping into the canyon.

The top of the canyon is where the bus parking is, so it was very crowded with foreign tourists (oops, just remembered we are foreign tourists!).  So we just stayed there for a few minutes before beginning the hike back down the canyon.

Snack with a view on the return hike

The Maligne Canyon is a great hike for all levels of hikers.  It is fairly short in length but has a great variety of scenery along the way.

OK, one more hike blog coming up from Jasper.  More on that later . . .

 

 

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15 Responses to Maligne Canyon Hike

  1. I am officially jealous. We really wanted to visit this part of Canada when we had the motorhome–but, alas, we did not. I always love the shots of your hiking boots and these are no exception, but my favorite photo is definitely the one of John about to plunge into the water. Love your sense of humor.

  2. pmbweaver says:

    OKay….bridge six looks like one I could cross.
    How interesting about the stream. I knew that water just didn’t disappear.
    What is wrong with that man in the photo of the ragging water? Does he have a death wish?
    What a lovely snowless hike. I love the rushing water and the canyon looks so lovely.

  3. Ingrid says:

    What beautiful country. The force of water is quite interesting. I learned a great deal about under ground aquifers as a home builder in Colorado. Did someone get some new hiking shoes?

  4. Looks like another awesome hike! I love how the water has traveled so far underground before surfacing along this river. Pretty unique!

  5. Pam says:

    Gorgeous! Not liking the chilly outfits though. Maybe better to go end of August and risk the crowds?

  6. Deb says:

    Beautiful place.

  7. Gay says:

    What a beauty of a hike…canyons and rivers are so much fun. I’m loving your time in Jasper!

  8. LuAnn says:

    Interesting story about the flow of the water from Medicine Lake to the Maligne River. Love how the water has shaped the rocks into such a unique landscape. Must be getting warmer if John is anxious to dive into that water. 🙂

  9. Erin says:

    More great memories. We skipped the 6th to 5th bridge portion for time after reading that it was mostly a forest walk. Loved the canyon hike … spent a lot of time scrambling over the rocks … like your experience, we found people were more interested in staying on the trail … their loss 😉 Didn’t spend much time at the top … just long enough to use the facilities. Hope you continued onto Maligne Lake.

  10. That lady in blue striking a pose looked so trimmed and gorgeous from all the hiking! I love it when you visit a place and it has a connection with the previous place you have been to! Very interesting.

  11. wiandflbev says:

    Love your photography. The fun shots of your boots in the photos and pretending to jump over the rushing waters. Beautiful place and thank you for bringing us with you.

  12. Rick Doyle says:

    We have to do that hike! Thanks for posting all of your spectacular photos of Maligne Canyon.

    The photo of your hiking boots is perfect!

  13. Laurel says:

    What gorgeous scenery — it looks like your weather has vastly improved! I love hikes with bridges, and that one looks especially interesting and beautiful. So fun that you blazed your own trail along the rocks. And I always enjoy your lunch/snack views!

  14. Holly Ritger says:

    Great shots of the great gorges… Looks like you guys had the best view by working your way down the path along the rocks. A very cool place…

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