Maligne Canyon is a stunningly beautiful place to go for a hike and marvel at this incredible natural wonder and there are plenty of fantastic photo opportunities and viewpoints along the scenic trail. I had an amazing morning visiting the canyon on my second day in Jasper during my road trip in the mountains this past summer.
The canyon is located only a ten to fifteen minute drive from the town of Jasper and is easily accessible. It’s a popular place for visitors to explore, but if you arrive early in the morning (7:30 or 8 am), you will beat most of the crowds.
You can start the hike from various points along the canyon. I started from the parking lot at the Fifth Bridge and hiked uphill along the canyon to the First Bridge and then downhill on the way back, which was great. There were a series of bridges along the canyon which all offered incredible views, but they got better and better the closer you got to the First Bridge.
I arrived to the canyon around 7:30 am and began the hike along Trail #7 after crossing the Fifth Bridge over the river, which followed alongside the canyon the entire way as opposed to Trail 7F which headed through the forest and would offer different views. I encountered only a few other people hiking at the same time as me and it was very pleasant and tranquil, being almost completely alone there.
The trail started by following along a ridge above the canyon through a portion of forest with openings in the trees providing views of the surrounding scenery of dense pine tree vegetation and vertical rock walls along the fast moving river.
The trail meandered alongside the canyon the entire hike (Trail #7 – at the fork in the path, keep to the right to continue along the canyon). Although there was some elevation gain, the inclines were fairly gentle and nothing too difficult or steep at all. There were beautiful waterfalls along the way and the canyon continued to get deeper and the scenery became more breathtaking as I hiked further and further towards the First Bridge.
The canyon was so deep, narrow and beautiful and the surrounding scenery was gorgeous! It was incredible to imagine how the power of water had eroded and carved this gorge over thousands of years. The photos don’t even do this place justice… It was simply stunning and something you have to see for yourself.
There were spectacular and dramatic views of the canyon from pedestrian bridges (the Fourth, Third, Second and First Bridges had the best views) and at various points along the way too and a gorgeous waterfall at one of the bridges. I was constantly amazed and in awe at how beautiful this place was. It felt like I was in the middle of a postcard and it is one of the most stunning places I’ve had the privilege of exploring.
The trail became increasingly busier as I made my way closer to the First Bridge, which is where most people begin the hike, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded as places like Johnston Canyon in Banff. Once I arrived at the First Bridge, I turned around the walked back to the Fifth Bridge along the same trail, although you could also take Trail #7F which climbs on the ridge above the river and through the forest if you want a change of scenery.
The round-trip hike from the Fifth Bridge to the First took me around 2.5 hours including my many stops for taking photos and admiring the awe-inspiring natural beauty. I would recommend planning to spend the morning here and taking your time to experience this incredible place. From the Sixth Bridge to the First Bridge, the hike is 2.9 km one-way.
If you are staying in Jasper, Maligne Canyon is a breathtaking natural wonder that is worth exploring. It was one of the highlights from my road trip in the Rockies and it’s difficult to describe the profound beauty of this place in words. The hike is easy and family-friendly and the canyon is one of the most amazing places to explore in Jasper.
Tips for Hiking Maligne Canyon
- Start the hike from the Fifth or Sixth Bridge and then continue along the canyon to the First Bridge. The parking lots of the Fifth and Sixth Bridges are far less busy and you will encounter fewer crowds if you do the hike in this direction. You will also be hiking uphill on the way to the First Bridge, which means you can enjoy the downhill on the way back.
- Arrive early (like 7:30 or 8 am) in order to get a good parking spot and be able to experience the canyon and natural beauty in a more peaceful and serene atmosphere without having to battle the crowds that show up around late morning and early afternoon.
- Hike along Trail #7 for the best views as the relatively easy trail follows directly along the canyon the entire way. If you want some different scenery on the way back to where you parked, Trail #7F cuts through the forest instead.
Location and Getting There
Maligne Canyon is conveniently located about 11 km (an ~15 minute drive) northeast of the town of Jasper.
To get there, drive north on Highway 16 or 16A from town and turn right onto Maligne Lake Road. Continue along this narrow and scenic paved road until you see the turnoff signs for the Sixth or Fifth Bridge parking lots. You can also continue along the road to reach the First Bridge parking area and the Maligne Canyon Tea House.
Have you been to Maligne Canyon? Have any questions for me about this place?
Thanks for reading!