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Hiking Maligne Canyon In Alberta


by Myrna Rayner



Welcome to Maligne Canyon, one of the most captivating natural wonders that Canada has to offer. Located in Alberta, this breathtaking adventure destination is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Maligne Canyon is renowned for its dramatic, towering limestone walls and the powerful force of the swirling Maligne River that has carved its way through the rock over thousands of years.


As you embark on a hiking journey through Maligne Canyon, you will be immersed in a world of awe-inspiring beauty and wonder. The trail winds its way along the edge of the canyon, offering stunning views of waterfalls, lush vegetation, and the fascinating geology that makes this place truly exceptional.


Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure or simply a peaceful escape into nature, Maligne Canyon has something for everyone. This article will guide you through the various trails, provide essential information on the trailhead, and offer safety tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable hiking experience.


So, get ready to lace up your hiking boots, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and immerse yourself in the unspoiled beauty of Maligne Canyon. Let’s discover the wonders that await you in this natural marvel of Alberta.


Getting to Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon is located in Jasper National Park, approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) outside the town of Jasper in Alberta, Canada. There are a few different ways to reach Maligne Canyon, depending on your starting point.


If you are driving from Jasper, take Highway 16 east towards Edmonton, and after approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles), you will see signs directing you to Maligne Road. Turn left onto Maligne Road and continue for another 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) until you reach the parking lot at the Maligne Canyon trailhead.


If you are visiting from a different location, you can fly into Edmonton International Airport and rent a car to drive to Jasper. The drive takes approximately 4 hours and offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies along the way.


For those opting for public transportation, there are bus services available from Jasper to Maligne Canyon. Check with local transportation providers for schedules and availability.


Once you arrive at the Maligne Canyon trailhead, you will find ample parking space. It’s important to note that during peak tourist seasons, such as summer, the parking lot can become crowded, so it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a spot.


Now that you know how to get to Maligne Canyon, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots and explore the stunning trails that await you.


Trail Overview

The hiking trails at Maligne Canyon offer a variety of options for all skill levels, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of this natural wonder. The trails are well-maintained, clearly marked, and offer breathtaking views at every turn.


There are two main loops that make up the Maligne Canyon trail system: the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop and the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop. The Lower Loop is approximately 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) long, while the Upper Loop extends for about 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles).


The Lower Maligne Canyon Loop takes you closer to the canyon floor, where you can witness the raw power of the Maligne River as it rushes through narrow chasms and forms mesmerizing waterfalls. The trail offers multiple viewpoints along the way, allowing you to marvel at the towering limestone walls that surround you.


The Upper Maligne Canyon Loop provides a different perspective, with breathtaking views from higher vantage points. This section of the trail takes you across several bridges that span the deep gorge, offering panoramic views of the canyon and the lush forested areas surrounding it.


Both loops can be completed independently or combined for a longer, more immersive hiking experience. The trails are well-maintained and looped, allowing hikers to return to the starting point without retracing their steps.


It’s important to note that while the trails at Maligne Canyon offer stunning views, they can also be challenging in certain sections. Some areas may involve steep climbs, uneven terrain, or narrow pathways. It’s essential to wear appropriate footwear, carry water, and exercise caution while exploring the trails.


In the next sections, we will dive into the details of each loop, starting with the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop, followed by the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the captivating landscapes of Maligne Canyon.



The trailhead for Maligne Canyon is conveniently located at the parking lot near the canyon entrance. From here, you can easily access both the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop and the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop.


As you arrive at the trailhead, you will find informative signage providing details about the trails, including distance, difficulty level, and important safety information. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the trail map and any seasonal closures or restrictions before setting off on your hike.


Restrooms and picnic areas are available near the trailhead, allowing visitors to take a break, enjoy a snack, or simply soak in the serene surroundings before or after their hike. Be sure to use the restroom facilities before you hit the trail, as there are no restroom facilities along the trails themselves.


Before you start your hike, it’s advisable to check the current weather conditions and dress accordingly. The weather in the Canadian Rockies can be unpredictable, so be prepared for changing temperatures and sudden weather changes. Layered clothing and sturdy footwear are highly recommended for a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience.


At the trailhead, you may also come across park staff or volunteers who can provide further information about Maligne Canyon and answer any questions you may have. They can also provide additional safety tips and advice specific to the current trail conditions.


Once you’re ready, take a deep breath, soak in the natural beauty surrounding you, and begin your adventure through Maligne Canyon. Remember to stay on the designated trails, follow any posted signs or instructions, and respect the natural environment to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable experience for all visitors.


Lower Maligne Canyon Loop

The Lower Maligne Canyon Loop is a must-see for anyone visiting Maligne Canyon. This loop takes you closer to the canyon floor, allowing you to witness the sheer power of the Maligne River as it cascades through narrow chasms and creates stunning waterfalls.


Beginning from the trailhead, the Lower Loop takes you along well-marked pathways that wind their way along the edge of the canyon. As you make your way through the trail, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the limestone walls that tower above you, showcasing thousands of years of natural erosion.


One of the highlights of the Lower Loop is the first and second bridges, which provide breathtaking views of the canyon and its waterfalls. As you cross the bridges, take a moment to pause and admire the rushing water below, and the lush greenery that lines the gorge.


Throughout the Lower Loop, you’ll encounter several viewpoints that offer unique perspectives of the canyon. Each viewpoint provides a different vantage point, allowing you to fully appreciate the magnificence of Maligne Canyon and its geological wonders.


It’s important to note that while the Lower Loop offers awe-inspiring views, there are sections of the trail that involve steep descents and narrow pathways. These areas can be slippery, especially in wet conditions, so exercise caution and use the provided handrails when necessary.


Completing the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop will take approximately 1-2 hours, depending on your pace and how many photo opportunities you indulge in along the way. Remember to bring water, wear appropriate footwear, and be respectful of the natural environment by staying on the designated trails.


Exploring the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop is an incredible experience that allows you to truly connect with the power and beauty of nature. So, grab your camera, lace up your hiking boots, and be prepared to be enchanted by the wonders of Maligne Canyon.


Upper Maligne Canyon Loop

The Upper Maligne Canyon Loop offers a different perspective of Maligne Canyon, showcasing stunning panoramic views from higher vantage points. This loop takes you across a series of bridges that span the deep gorge, allowing you to marvel at the breathtaking vistas and the incredible power of the Maligne River.


Starting from the trailhead, the Upper Loop takes you on a well-marked path that winds its way through the forested areas surrounding the canyon. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the lush greenery and the towering limestone walls that define Maligne Canyon.


The highlight of the Upper Loop is the fifth bridge, known as the “Queen’s Bower” bridge. This is the highest and most picturesque bridge in the canyon, offering magnificent views of the cascading waterfalls, the jagged canyon walls, and the emerald-green waters below.


Throughout the Upper Loop, you’ll come across viewpoints that provide panoramic vistas of the canyon and its surroundings. These viewpoints offer an opportunity to pause, take in the beauty of the landscape, and capture some memorable photographs.


While the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop doesn’t involve the same steep descents as the Lower Loop, it still presents some inclines and uneven terrain. Be prepared for some moderate uphill sections and ensure you have appropriate footwear that provides good traction.


Completing the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop will take approximately 1-2 hours, depending on your pace and how much time you spend soaking in the stunning views. Make sure to bring water, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the beauty surrounding you.


The Upper Loop offers a unique perspective of Maligne Canyon, allowing you to appreciate the grandeur and power of this natural wonder from elevated viewpoints. As you make your way across the bridges and explore the forested trails, you’ll be amazed by the sheer beauty that nature has carved into the landscape.


With its awe-inspiring vistas and mesmerizing scenery, the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop is a must-visit for anyone seeking an immersive and breathtaking hiking experience.


Safety Tips

While exploring Maligne Canyon is a rewarding and memorable experience, it’s important to prioritize safety during your hike. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Stay on the designated trails: Maligne Canyon can be treacherous, and venturing off the marked trails can be dangerous. Follow the signs and stay on the established paths to ensure your safety.
  2. Wear appropriate footwear: The trails at Maligne Canyon can be uneven and slippery, especially near the waterfalls. Choose sturdy footwear with good traction to prevent slips and falls.
  3. Come prepared: Carry water, snacks, and any necessary medications with you. Additionally, pack a small first aid kit in case of any minor injuries along the way.
  4. Check weather conditions: Weather in the Canadian Rockies can change rapidly. Check the forecast before your hike and be prepared for changing conditions. Dress in layers, bring a waterproof jacket, and pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  5. Respect wildlife: Maligne Canyon is home to various wildlife species. Observe from a safe distance and do not feed or approach any animals you encounter. Remember, you are a guest in their natural habitat.
  6. Be cautious near the water: The Maligne River can have strong currents, especially during periods of high flow. Stay away from the river’s edge, respect all safety barriers, and follow posted warnings.
  7. Hike with a buddy: Whenever possible, hike with a partner or in a group. Having someone with you increases safety and provides assistance in case of an emergency.
  8. Inform someone of your plans: Before you begin your hike, let a reliable person know about your intended route and estimated time of return. This way, if something unexpected happens, help can be alerted.
  9. Know your limits: Choose a trail that aligns with your fitness level and hiking experience. Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities, and listen to your body. If you start feeling tired or unwell, it’s okay to turn back.
  10. Respect nature: Help preserve the natural beauty of Maligne Canyon by following Leave No Trace principles. Take your trash with you, avoid picking flowers or disturbing wildlife, and stay on the trails to minimize impact.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience while exploring the wonders of Maligne Canyon. Remember, your safety is of utmost importance, so take the necessary precautions and make memories to cherish for a lifetime.


What to Bring

When embarking on a hike in Maligne Canyon, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear and essentials. Here’s a list of items to consider bringing:

  1. Appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven and sometimes slippery terrain.
  2. Water and snacks: Stay hydrated throughout your hike by bringing an adequate amount of water. Pack energy-boosting snacks to sustain your energy levels.
  3. Layered clothing: The weather in the Canadian Rockies can change quickly. Dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature fluctuations as needed. Bring a waterproof jacket in case of rain.
  4. Sun protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, especially during the summer months when the sun can be intense at higher elevations.
  5. Insect repellent: Maligne Canyon is located in an area with mosquitos and other insects. To ward off bites, apply insect repellent before starting your hike.
  6. Camera or smartphone: Capture the awe-inspiring beauty of Maligne Canyon by bringing a camera or smartphone to take photos and document your adventure.
  7. Small backpack: Carry all your essentials in a comfortable backpack. Make sure it has enough space for your water, snacks, camera, extra layers, and any other personal items.
  8. First aid kit: It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand for any minor injuries or emergencies that may occur during your hike.
  9. Map or guidebook: Familiarize yourself with the trail map before starting your hike. Bring a physical map or guidebook or have a digital copy on your smartphone for easy reference.
  10. Cell phone: Carry a fully charged cell phone for emergency purposes. However, keep in mind that there may be limited or no cell service in certain areas, so don’t rely solely on your phone for safety.

Remember to pack light and only bring what you truly need. Be mindful of the weight you’re carrying and ensure that you’re comfortable throughout your hike.


By being prepared with the appropriate gear and essentials, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience as you explore the wonders of Maligne Canyon.



Maligne Canyon in Alberta offers a truly unforgettable adventure for those seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. Whether you choose to hike the Lower Maligne Canyon Loop or the Upper Maligne Canyon Loop, or both, you are guaranteed to be captivated by the breathtaking scenery and the raw power of the Maligne River.


As you make your way through the canyon, surrounded by towering limestone walls and cascading waterfalls, you’ll be reminded of the incredible force of nature and the intricate geological processes that have shaped this remarkable landscape over thousands of years.


While exploring Maligne Canyon, it’s important to prioritize safety and respect for the environment. Follow the designated trails, stay hydrated, wear appropriate footwear, and be aware of your surroundings. Take the time to appreciate the stunning views, capture memories with your camera, and embrace the serene atmosphere.


Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, Maligne Canyon offers an adventure for everyone. The trails provide a range of difficulty levels, allowing you to choose a path that suits your abilities and comfort level.


So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and prepare to be captivated by the beauty of Maligne Canyon. As you traverse the winding trails, surrounded by majestic cliffs and the rush of the Maligne River, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.


Explore the wonders of Maligne Canyon and let nature’s breathtaking beauty fill your senses. This remarkable destination in Alberta is a true gem, offering a remarkable adventure that will leave you in awe of the power and grandeur of the natural world.


Start planning your trip to Maligne Canyon and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through one of Canada’s most stunning natural wonders!