Maligne Canyon Quick Tour
Maligne: pronounced "mah-leen" from the French "mal" to infer sick, or evil as in "malicious".
The Maligne River system was considered by the French Canadian fur traders and their native guides as a bit mysterious.
The river, up near Maligne Lake, flows in a mighty torrent. When it enters Medicine Lake (named in reference to bad medicine) it does so with great volumes. It does not, however, appear to flow out. Indeed, through the summer months Medicine Lake disappears until, in mid autumn all that is left is a thin channel that itself disappears into the shoreline.
The Maligne Valley is riddled by the most extensive "karst" system in the world. A karst system is a geological formation of caves above and below ground level. In the case of the Maligne Valley, no one knows just where water from Maligne Lake goes.
When traced by dyes it has taken anywhere from half a day to a week for the water to make the trip from Medicine Lake to Maligne Canyon, a distance of about ten miles. Even then, the dyes didn't show up at only one final destination. Dyes turned up in the Canyon, Lac Beauvert by Jasper Park Lodge and in several of the other lakes between.
As the river enters Maligne Canyon it takes on its most dramatic form.
Just steps from the Restaurant is the first viewpoint. At this point the Maligne River is only starting to show that something is about to happen.
The sign informs us that the river has eaten away at the limestone of the valley. This softer rock erodes faster than other kinds. The result is a smooth, steep walled canyon.