Maligne Lake: Most scenic in Canadian Rockies

North America | | April 5, 2011 at 12:05 am


No natural formation symbolizes the Canadian Rockies just as the Maligne Lake in the Jasper National Park of Alberta. This most scenic and so the most photographed location is famous for its unique color water, view of three glaciers, flanking peaks, and above all for its major attraction called the Spirit Island. Nestled at a distance of 27 miles from the Jasper town, it is at the end of the Maligne Road indicating its accessibility by vehicles including shuttle buses that start from Jasper. Maligne Lake is filled by the Maligne River from the south side. Besides the lake, you will also come across the river, mountain, and a pass of the same name deriving it from the ‘malignant’. It was so named because of the turbulent flow of the river in the spring, which treacherously meets the Athabasca River.

Reaching to the lake itself is a stunning, wildlife-filled drive; which in itself is a tourist attraction here. As you move on the paved road that goes until the Maligne Valley, you get a chance to spot caribou, moose, bears, and sheep on the Maligne Road. Further, there are some interesting halts that are the Athabasca Valley Lookout at 6th km for marveling at the valley’s panorama along with that of the Jasper town, Maligne Canyon at next kilometer, which is a geological wonder, and Medicine Lake at 21st kilometer, which is known for its vanishing feature in every autumn.

Once you reach the Maligne Lake, there are a plethora of activities awaiting you for soaking you in its natural beauty. Come here in spring or autumn season when the boat or cruise tours take you to the Spirit Island. This is a 90 minute scenic journey that occurs hourly from the lake for $55 per adult and $27.50. This scenic cruise is entitled as the “Best Boat Tour in Canada” via the votes of 8 million subscribers of the Reader’s Digest. Wow, this is amazing to know! Next is the foot-on-fore activity called hiking via the Skyline Trail of 44 km – the park’s very famous, highest, and multi-day hike from the lake to the Jasper town.

If you come early here and need to wait for the scenic cruise journey to the Spirit Island, think of ambling the shore in the meanwhile – Mary Schäffer Loop as a short one of 1-2 hours also known as Lake Trail. There are still some more options for you to choose – from the parking area – Moose Lake Loop as the forest trail of 1-2 hours, Bald Hills of 4-6 hours, and Opal Point Loop of 4-6 hours.

Further, you can take some water adventures such as canoeing and kayaking. All these thrills start at the Maligne Lake Day Lodge – an attraction in itself which with its big windows seize the glacier clad mountains around the lake. From the Maligne Lake Day Lodge, you can easily spot the Leah as well as Samson peaks; Mount Paul (east); and Mounts Charlton, Unwin, and Mary Vaux; and Llysfran Peak. You will also love to spot the three glaciers namely; the Maligne, Charlton, and Unwin from the lake, which all are famous for kayaking and canoeing. If you come here in winter, then also expect the majestic cross-country skiing, which is surely unforgettable.

I would recommend to come here via a shuttle bus from Jasper. It really runs via some most splendid scenic zones in the park before reaching the Maligne Lake. In between, you can leave the shuttle so that you can hike the several trailheads or reach the lake and then hike the famous trail to Jasper. Via this shuttle, you can explore the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jacques Lake Trailhead, Watch tower Trailhead, Best Western Jasper Inn Maligne Canyon Teahouse, Maligne Canyon Youth Hostel, Maligne Pass Trailhead, Opal Basin Trail, and Bald Hills Trail. All this is possible for $40 that also includes the return fees. Camping is also possible here whose sites are reachable vial canoeing only. These are at the Coronet Creek and at Fisherman’s Bay.

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