Last Updated on July 1, 2020 by Irene Seto
Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular walks in Jasper National Park. And for good reason! Only 10 minutes from town, it is a popular summer hike for Jasper visitors looking for stunning scenery. But as the temperatures go down, the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk turns into an entirely new winter terrain. Stunning waterfalls freeze into spectacular ice displays that will take your breath away.
This family-friendly trail is well marked and easy to traverse even in the winter. The snow gets packed down easily as it is still a popular winter destination. With many starting points for the canyon, this walk is as easy or difficult as you would like to make it.
A popular gem in Jasper National Park
The Maligne Canyon trails starts higher up with views of the gorge from above. Learn about the geological history of the canyon, how it came to be, and how settlers made use of the area through the many Parks Canada interpretive signage.
One of the features are the many fossils and imprints throughout the canyon. They can be hard to see under all the snow. If you’re lucky, someone might have dug out one or two of them for viewing.
Following the trail, visitors will head over the aptly-named First Bridge, Second Bridge and so on. There are four bridges that cross the canyon gorge and provide amazing views along the way. Most visitors take the shorter hiking loop to the upper reaches of the canyon, but there is also a longer trail that follows the running water along the canyon heading towards a fifth and sixth bridge on the way down.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk experience
Ready to head into the canyon? Special fence gate doors allow hikers to head directly onto the canyon floor. That’s where the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk gets really interesting! Rock walls and ice sheets normally full of running water in the summer now stand frozen in time. This leads to feeling surrounded from all around.
Once inside the canyon you can get a closer look at the frozen ice falls and take some time to get some amazing photos. But be careful! Parts of the canyon floor will be covered in everything from snow, ice, broken ice floes, rocks, slush and more.
The ideal time to visit Maligne Canyon is from about December to April as they are the coldest winter months. Give yourself about 2-4 hours to make the roundtrip and stop for the many photo opportunities.
TIPS for hiking the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
- Wear good ice cleats. The snow turns slippery and icy throughout the trail. By having better traction your visit will be more enjoyable and safer!
- Bundle up! As it gets a few degrees cooler down in the canyon, you may want to have more layers to wear.
- Parking shouldn’t be a problem in the winter months. Expect to see other nature seekers along the trail but it won’t be too busy.
- Parks Canada recommends wearing helmets if you go down into the canyon.
- Take a guided tour of Maligne Canyon. For example, Sundog Tours will get you geared up with cleats and helmets. The best part is starting at First Bridge and getting picked up Fifth Bridge so you don’t have to turn back around to finish the hike.
Maligne Canyon Ice Walk photos
Whether you do this hike on your own or take a guided tour, you will be glad to see this natural beauty up close and in person. See more photos below for a glimpse of what you get on the Maligne Canyon Icewalk.
#hosted: Much thanks to the Tourism Jasper and Sundog Tours teams for arranging this mountain adventure for me.