While visiting Jasper National Park in November Alberta was already well underway into her winter season. With a fresh covering of snow on the ground that had easily been there for a few weeks already it was easy to believe how early winter really comes to the Canadian Rockies. Maligne Canyon is famous for offering incredible winter adventures with its very popular ice walk, but unfortunately winter had not been around long enough to deep freeze the canyons waters. Despite not being able to do a guided ice walk we still were able to hike through the paths of the canyon that are available year round.
How To Get to Maligne Canyon
To get to the main Maligne Canyon Trailhead, from Jasper follow Highway 16 towards Edmonton, go 1.8km past the east Jasper exit to Maligne Road. On the Maligne Lake Road go 6.1km down the road to the main parking lot. If you would like to hike from the 6th or 5th bridge you will pass signage for this as you head to the main parking lot.
We arrived to Maligne Canyon early in the morning and there was no one else in the parking lot or on the trails. This was great for us – we love having popular places all to ourselves. Parking and visiting the canyon is free as long as you have purchased your pass into Jasper National Park. There is an self-guided interpretative trails that take you along the canyon’s rim to see all that it has to offer.
Conditions were icy at the time so we chose to wear our crampons and they definitely helped on some of the hills we were going up and down on the walk. We opted for the hike that took us from the main trailhead to the fourth bridge and back. If you are short on time and want to get the best views for your time do the short, easy walk that takes you to bridges 1-3.
Dying to see Bridges 5 and 6 but don’t have time to make the hike?
We really wanted to see Bridges five and six but the conditions were not great on the trails as it was incredibly icy and we were short on time. No problem! Head back to the main trail head and hop in your car and head back down Maligne Lake Road towards Jasper. On your right hand side you are going to see signage for Bridge 5 and then shortly after Bridge 6. Turn right down both of these roads to stop in the parking lots there and the bridges are located right in front of them! It is a perfect way to cut down a few hours of time especially in the winter when it the weather can be extremely cold or very icy or anything in between!
The drive out to Maligne Canyon is worth the short detour and an hour or longer spent exploring this beautiful canyon.