Maligne Canyon Trail – Best Canadian Rockies Day Hikes

#17 – Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Maligne Canyon Trail

Maligne Canyon Trail
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  • Location: Jasper National Park
  • Trailhead: Maligne Canyon Parking Lot
  • Type: Out-n-Back
  • Rating: Easy
  • Total Distance: 3 miles
  • Trailhead Elevation: 3,775′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 385′
  • Recommended Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Recommended Season: Early May – Early October. Winter is supposed to be nice as well.

Maligne Canyon Trail

Maligne Canyon
The gorgeous Maligne River Canyon as seen from the third bridge area on the trail.

The Maligne Canyon Trail is a beautiful path that parallels, overlooks and crosses over (four times) the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies. The trail follows the flow of the Maligne River as it continues to cut its way into the earth. The river enters the top of the gorge as a narrow creek, and, as if by some magic trick, emerges from the canyon large and wide.

The Magic of Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon Waterfall
The waterfall at the first bridge is the highest in the canyon.

The water increase by volume along the 1.5 mile journey through the canon. There are unexplored caves carved into the limestone terrain that add to the flow as the river passes through this mystical canyon.

Which Way?

Distances Sign
The Maligne Canyon is well signed with distances to the many bridges.

There are six bridges that cross the river. The signage will help you gauge distance and relative location of each while hiking the Maligne Canyon Trail. The main parking area is above the first bridge but there is an auxiliary lot adjacent to the fifth bridge. Either would make a great starting point. If you want to hike uphill first then start in the fifth bridge lot. If you prefer downhill first then start at the main lot. Either way, you should start early as the ease of access and beauty of this canyon make it very popular making parking difficult.

The Four Canyon Bridges

Second Bridge
The Second Bridge spans the deepest part of Maligne Canyon.

The canyon is at its most magnificent between the first and fourth bridges. At the first and third bridge, you overlook amazing waterfalls. The second bridge is astonishing as it crosses over a section of the canyon about 6′ wide, but over 160′ deep. The fourth bridge is a literal bridge to nowhere as this short spur crosses over the creek and stops. It overlooks the area where the river and canyon start to widen out.

The Fifth Bridge

Many choose to turn around at the fourth bridge but I believe the hike is worth the journey to the fifth bridge. The path to the fifth bridge reveals the magic of the canyon as tributaries plunge from deep caves and fall from the cliffs above in a veil-like waterfall. This section of the trail also has some magnificent views of the gorgeous Pyramid Mountain in the distance. It almost shimmers and one of the signs in the park says this is due to the high concentration of pyrite in the rock.

Veil Fall
This bridal veil looking waterfall is one of the highlights to be found between the 4th & 5th bridges.

The Sixth Bridge

There is also a sixth bridge, far removed from the canyon and it doubles the hiking distance. If you are looking for a longer hike through the woods add the sixth bridge to your journey.

One of the Best Day Hikes

Depths of Maligne Canyon
The view straight down from the 2nd bridge. The Maligne River isn’t visible but the sound is intoxicating.

The Maligne Canyon Trail is a unique and beautiful trail designed to take in the wonders and mysteries of the deepest slot canyon in the Canadian Rockies. Without a doubt, this is one of the best day hikes in Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

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Maligne River Waterfall
One of several waterfalls to be found in Jasper National Park’s Maligne Canyon.

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