Kids love magic. Kids love water. So, what could be more exciting than finding magic water while out on a hike?
Here in Jasper we have a very special lake, Medicine Lake. This lake fills and empties through underground rivers. Then, these rivers follow various courses under and above ground to rejoin the Maligne River. And when underground rivers flow out of the ground, it is magical.
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For our family walk today we decided to take the path between 5th and 6th bridge along the Maligne River. This is the bottom most portion of the Maligne Canyon hike. Overall it is an easy, wide, relatively smooth path. Most of the trail is packed dirt. We often push a chariot for this walk, but today my husband wore the baby in a hard-framed back pack. The baby was happy to be carried along for the first half of the walk, but on returning, she wanted to get out and explore. This slowed us a little, but surprisingly, not much. She was excited and ran to keep up to her brother and sister. It took us about 90 minutes to walk from the 5th bridge to the 6th, have a snack break, and then walk back again.
Where to find the magic water:
The magic waters are actually underground rivers flowing out of the rock to join or re-join the Maligne River. On one side of the path are forests and rocks, on the other, water is flowing out and away. Kids seem to find this fascinating. These outlets are closer to the 5th bridge. The most evident of these outlets is at a point where the path is sided by high cliff rocks on one side
We passed a lot of other people on our walk today. Maligne Canyon is a popular stop in Jasper National Park. We chose to walk from the 5th bridge down; however, we could have also walked up the trail towards the top of the canyon. Earlier this season we walked from the 5th bridge up to 1st bridge and back again. Walking at our 7 year old’s pace took us about 1 1/2 hours.
This trail is very appropriate for chariots and young bikers. Closer to 5th bridge, there are some rocky sections. It is possible to get the chariot over these sections, it will just take some manoeuvering. Starting at 6th bridge and making your way up the canyon until the rocky section is still a good distance walk and if you choose to turn around when the rocks begin, you have still travelled three quarters of the way. On less busy days we have just left the kid’s bikes in the bushes on the side of the trail and continued the rest of the way on foot.
Between Malign River’s 5th – 6th Bridges, Jasper National Park, Canada
Distance: 1.6km one way, 3.2 km return between 5th and 6th bridge
Time with young children: about 90 minutes
Trailhead: Off Maligne Road, just northeast of Jasper townsite. Watch for the small signs to either 5th or 6th bridge parking lots.
Description: The trail starting at 6th bridge is wide, smooth packed dirt and gravel. It is in the trees following along the river. There is minimal elevation gain. As the trail nears 5th bridge, there are some rocky sections. Continuing past 5th bridge, the path narrows with more rocks and starts climbing up along the canyon. The trail between 6th and 5th bridge is appropriate for chariots and young bikers, but I recommend starting at the 6th bridge so you have the option of turning back if / when the trail becomes to rocky for your chariot pushing or your young biker’s abilities.
The magic waters, or where the underground rivers surface to join the Maligne River, are closer to the 5th bridge.
Amenities: There are outhouses at both the 6th and 5th bridge parking lots. Both bridges have large grassy areas with picnic tables and make a nice place to stop and play.