Backcountry Guide

Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake


At 22 km long, Maligne Lake is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, this lake is famed for its surrounding peaks, glaciers and Spirit Island—one of the most photographed locations in the country.

The details

  • 22 km one way to the end of the lake
  • Elevation of lake: 1690 m
  • Fires are permitted from 6 am to 11 pm
  • Gas powered boats are prohibited, electric motors allowed.

Maligne Lake is Jasper’s most famous tourist destination. Travelling by canoe or kayak to one of its three backcountry campsites will let you experience its peace and beauty. Because of potential high winds and sudden weather changes, it is always recommended to get an early start. Along the way, there are picnic sites at km 4.8 (Trapper Creek), km 5.2 (Four Mile Creek). km 10 (Samson) and km 17.7 (Spindly Creek), which are all good for taking breaks. At km 4, you’ll pass the new family paddling campground at Hidden Cove. This small four-site campground is aimed at families and novice paddlers. At km 13, after Samson Narrows, you reach Fisherman’s Bay Campground on the east side of the lake, tucked into a small cove. After leaving Fisherman’s Bay, continue 2 km to famous Spirit Island, which is also the destination for the Maligne Lake tour boats.

Beyond Spirit Island you get to experience the true tranquility of Maligne Lake, beautiful glaciers, high peaks and a pristine wilderness setting. At the south end of the lake you will find Coronet Creek Campground (km 21.3). This is a wonderful place to do some angling, hiking or relaxing.

What you need to know

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is open to paddlers and electric motors only. Aside from the tour boats and Parks Canada’s rescue boat, gas-powered motors are not allowed on the lake. The Maligne Lake campgrounds are very popular in the summer and should be booked well in advance. There is a 6-night maximum stay at the campgrounds, two nights maximum at each site.

Maligne Lake is one of the coldest lakes in the Rockies. Travelling in poor weather on the lake is not recommended; the weather can change suddenly. It is highly recommended to paddle close to shore and always wear a life jacket. Be sure to give the tour boats operating on the lake space while paddling. The southern end of the lake is remote and only patrolled occasionally by Parks Canada. Do not count on a quick rescue if you get in trouble.

General Information
  • Food storage lockers are provided at all campgrounds. There is one locker per site. Store all food, garbage, beverages, scented articles and stoves in these bear-proof lockers.
  • Campfires are ONLY permitted in firegrates. Firewood is not provided at the campgrounds.
  • If you wish to have a campfire, you may collect dead wood along the lakeshore en route, but please don’t collect wood near the campgrounds. Because of the lake’s popularity and the high use of the area, we recommend that you bring your own firewood. Please ensure that if you bring your own firewood it is NOT from outside the park.
  • It is against the law to cut down standing live or dead trees for firewood or tent poles.
  • The firegrates and the picnic tables are for all campers to share!
  • Campground check-in and check-out time is 11 a.m.
  • No noise from 11 pm to 7 am.
  • Quiet time is all the time.
Length of stay
  • Maximum 6 nights total, 2 nights maximum at each camp. You may not deviate from your registered itinerary.
Maximum Group Size
  • 10 people, 5 sites. This is to minimize conflicts with other groups. 
  • The lake is usually calm until 9 am — get an early start!
  • The wind changes direction and intensity very quickly.
  • Sudden storms, cold temperatures and snow can be expected in summer.
  • The water is a chilly 4°C.

Suggested Itineraries

Option one: 4 nights 
There are many ways to enjoy Maligne Lake. Ideally, people would spend four nights on the lake, two at each campground. For paddlers who aren’t as strong, the best option is to spend the first night at Fisherman’s Bay (13 km) then head south down to the end of the lake (9 km) for two nights at Coronet Creek, and returning for a final night at Fisherman’s Bay. Along the way, there are four picnic sites that offer a good opportunity for a lunch stop.

There is an unmaintained trail route that follows Coronet Creek to the base of the Coronet Glacier (8 km). This is a great day hike for those staying at the Coronet Creek Campground.

Option two: 2 nights
Stronger paddlers can paddle to Fishermans Bay the first night, to Coronet Creek the second night, and paddle back in one long day.

Henry McLeod Campground at the end of the Coronet Creek Trail is no longer maintained. You are allowed to camp at the site, but you must bring a bear-proof container to store food and manage your own human waste, using “Leave No Trace” principles.

Directions to trailhead

From Jasper
From Jasper: take Highway 16 East towards Edmonton. Two kilometres from Jasper, turn right across the bridge onto Maligne Road. Continue for 46 km south on the Maligne Road to Maligne Lake. If you are renting a boat, park in the first parking lot on the east side of the lake, before the chalet. If you have your own boat, continue on the road past the chalet and across the bridge. You will find a boat launch in the parking lot on the west side of the lake.

Travel distances (in km)

Lake Distances (in km)

Campground information

Campground  Description  # of  sites  Fire Pit  Picnic Tables  UTM 

Hidden Cove 

A small campground located in a sheltered cove, perfect for families and novice paddlers.     4  yes    yes 11U
458574- 5839444
Fisherman’s Bay Located in a small cove on the east side of the lake. It offers nice views and is a good base for fishing.     8  yes     yes 11U
Coronet Creek Located at the southern end of Maligne Lake. The site offers peace and quiet, wonderful views of the Coronet Glacier, some nice day hiking and great fishing.    8  yes    yes 11U

Maligne Lake map 

Maligne Lake Map

View larger version

Safety in the backcountry  

Maligne Lake

You are responsible for your own safety. Be prepared for extreme weather and mountainous terrain. Cell phone coverage is unavailable in most areas.

Trail report
Before leaving, check the Jasper National Park trail report for up-to-date conditions at

Trail information
Trail Office, 780-852-6177

1 877-737-3783

call 780-852-3100 or 877-852-3100

Leave no Trace

Leave no Trace

Food storage 
To reduce your campsite’s attractiveness to bears, all food, cooking equipment, garbage and toiletries must be stored in the food lockers provided. Please clean your locker and take everything with you before you leave. Lockers are not cleaned by staff.

Human waste 
Use the pit toilets provided. When there are no facilities nearby, select a spot away from trails, campsites and at least 70 m from water sources. dig a hole 12 to 16 cm into the darkcoloured, biologically active soil layer. Loosely fill the hole with soil afterward. Use as little toilet paper as possible.

National Park Fishing Permit is required. All fish waste should be burned hot in the fire rings. This good bear safe practice will eliminate grease, odours and food attractants. 

Please—Pack it in and pack it out! You are responsible for everything you take into the backcountry and this includes garbage. Do not dispose of garbage in pit toilets—it may attract animals.

To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 70 m away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Strain out those last bits of food waste and pack them out. Disperse strained water on land.

Stay on the trails, vegetation is fragile.  © C. Roy
Please camp only at the campsites indicated on your Backcountry Camping Permit and use the tent pads (where provided).

If fires are allowed, use the metal fireboxes provided, keep your fire small and use only deadfall. Tend to your fire at all times and extinguish it completely before you move on. Gas stoves are cleaner and more efficient for cooking. We recommend you use one.

Shortcutting trails
Shortcutting between trail switchbacks damages both the soil and plant life. This not only ruins the look of an area, but makes it susceptible to further damage by erosion.

Collecting natural or cultural objects
Rocks, fossils, horns, antlers, wildflowers, nests and all other natural or historical objects in a national park are protected by law. Leave them as you found them for others to enjoy.

For more information on low impact travel in the backcountry contact: 

Backcountry equipment checklist

Have you got it?

This is a list of suggested equipment for Jasper's backcountry trails.

Mountain weather is unpredictable; be prepared for winter conditions at any time of the year. Snow may persist in high mountain regions into the summer and avalanche danger may occur in any season. This equipment list does not account for the special knowledge and equipment required to travel in avalanche terrain.



Other essentials


Long underwear

Wool sweater, down vest, or fleece jacket

Raingear - pants and jacket, gaiters

Hat and gloves /

Boots with ankle
support and good soles


Sandals or runners for fording streams and at camp

Life jacket

Extra warm clothes in waterproof bag




Tent with waterproof fly

Food should include enough for an extra day

Water filter, purification tablets or extra fuel for boiling your water

Waterproof bag to store food at campgrounds










Wilderness pass

Bear spray and the knowledge to use it

Topographic map


Waterproof matches &/or lighter

Insect repellent

Flashlight and extra batteries

First Aid kit

Signaling device (whistle or mirror)

Toilet paper

Rope - approx. 8m. A throw bag works well

Waterproof bags for all gear




Field guide(s)


SPOT™ Device or
satellite phone









Backcountry camping permits

A backcountry camping permit is mandatory for all overnight trips and can be obtained online at or by calling 1877-737-3783.

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