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Maligne Lake: a picturesque lake in the Rocky Mountains

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To reach the Maligne Canyon you have to take Hwy 16 east from Jasper to the junction for the Maligne Lake Road,  from here are more 11 km to get to the Maligne Canyon.

This is one of the most spectacular gorges of the Canadian Rockies, there are limestone cliffs over 50 meters deep. The Maligne Canyon Trail offers a picturesque view of this limestone canyon carved by the waters of the glaciers, the trail crosses the canyon six times. It is interpretative trail and the explanations along the way make the excursion more interesting.

Section 7 of the Maligne Canyon trail offers the best view of this famous limestone gorge. Along the trail you have to cross the suspension bridge over the Maligne River and bear right at all intersections, this will allow you to travel the full path within the canyon covering it along the side with the best views. Numerous interpretive signs explain how the Maligne Canyon is connected to Medicine Lake, 15 km away, by a system of caves and underground rivers.


Medicine Lake, is located along the road to Maligne Lake, in the Maligne Valley, this stunning lake disappears every autumn. Much of the drainage from the surrounding mountains leaves this valley through a hidden drainage network of underground caves. Medicine Lake, is located at km 21 along the road to Maligne Lake.

The Medicine Lake shows so striking that underground drainage system emptying every autumn. The cave system of drainage of the Medicine Lake resurfaces over the Maligne Canyon, more than 17 miles downstream.


Maligne Lake is one of the most picturesque spots in the Canadian Rockies, it’s located 48 km southeast of the townsite of Jasper at the end of the Maligne Road.  To reach Maligne Lake, traveling east on Highway 16, turn right across the Moberly Bridge 5 km east of Jasper and follow the signs. The paved road up the Maligne Valley ends at Maligne Lake.

Along the paved road up the Maligne Valley there are opportunities to see moose, sheep, bears and caribou along the Maligne Road are excellent. Along the road there are a few interesting stops: Athabasca Valley Lookout at kilometre 6 (panorama of the Athabasca Valley and the town of Jasper), Maligne Canyon at kilometre 7 (this canyon is one of Jasper’s geological marvels, in some cases, the canyon is only a few metres wide, but as much as 50 m. deep) and Medicine Lake at kilometre 21 (this lake incredible disappearing every autumn).

Maligne Lake is one of the largest (22 km long; area: 19,71 km²) glacier-formed lake in the Canadian Rockies. If you arrive early at the lake and you have to wait for the boat trip that will take you to Spirit Island, in the meantime you can walk the lake shore, it’s a short trail: Mary Schäffer Loop (also called Lake Trail, 3,2 km; 1-2 hours), we did the first part of Mary Schäffer Loop until the viewpoint on the lake. From the parking area there are also three more trails: Moose Lake Loop (this is a forest trail, 2,6 km; 1-2 hours) Opal Point Loop (8,2 km; 4-6 hours) and Bald Hills (10,4 km; 4-6 hours).


The view of Spirit Island is the best known and the main attraction of Maligne Lake, and also one of the most photographed in the Canadian Rockies. One of the most familiar images and one of the most photographed places in the Canadian Rockies is the image of Spirit Island in the middle of Maligne Lake. To get to Spirit Island is necessary to participate in an organized tour by boat along the Maligne Lake. Should book the day before in Jasper and then go to the point of embarkation on the lake of good morning.

The island is located about 14 kilometers from the end of the paved road to the southern end of the lake and there is no road or trail. The organized excursions by boat or private non-motorized boats (canoes) are the only means to reach the Spirit Island. The narrated cruise lasts 90 minutes, departures occur every hour from dawn to dusk. At Spirit Island the boat stopped to allow a short walk to the lookout point overlooking the island and the arc of mountains overlooking the southern shores of Maligne Lake.

The shoreline of the lake is magnificent, with dense forests and glacial peaks that rise abruptly from the water’s edge and in the center of this wonderland is the Spirit Island, a small circular island, with a clump of trees, but with a superlative scenic effect.

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