Our second of two full days in Jasper National Park was spent mostly north of Jasper town in the Maligne area, although we did wander into the town for a bit. And we got caught in afternoon animal rush hour traffic.
Every new place we stay gives us slightly different routines, but fortunately we adjust. Since where we were starting the day was about an hour away, we tried to not dawdle too much before we got out the door.
Our morning activity was to hike along the Maligne Canyon, which is a river with a bunch of small waterfalls and a series of bridges which cross over. Pulling in, we had no trouble finding a parking spot. The lot was pretty big, but being a popular attraction, we knew we shouldn't get there too late.
Because of where we parked and started the trail, our first bridge was Second Bridge. There were several people there, but we weren't too concerned since usually the further you go, the fewer people you see.
Near the beginning of the trail the canyon was extremely deep (and at that time of day, in deep shadows) so you could hear the river, but could only catch glimpses of it. We started getting closer to it by the time we got to Third Bridge, and by Fourth Bridge we were getting great views.
Many people turned around at Fourth Bridge, since Fifth Bridge was quite a bit further along the river. We went on, however, and while we thought we were getting close, the river was still pretty wide. Figuring the river would need to narrow first (considering the other bridges we saw), we kept on, but soon saw that it was a larger bridge, and a very graceful one at that.
We crossed Fifth Bridge, had some snacks, then started working our way back (we didn't go down to Sixth Bridge, which was about as far as we had already walked, so that would have nearly doubled our hike).
It had felt like we went downhill quite a bit between Second Bridge and Fifth Bridge, but it must not have been as much as we though, since the hike back didn't feel extremely steep. Just as well.
We dropped some stuff off at the car then went down to the store to check things out. After that, we went to the trail on that side of the parking lot to check out First Bridge, and walk some of the trail we hadn't covered on the way to Second Bridge.
Finished with our walk along Maligne Canyon, we thought we'd have lunch at Maligne Lake. However, we weren't sure we had enough gas to get out there and back (almost an hour drive each way), so instead we headed to Jasper Town.
We knew there were gas stations in the town, so we filled up, then found a place on the street to park. We saw there was plenty of space on the lawn in front of the Visitor Information Centre, so we walked over there and staked out space under a tree.
While eating lunch, we saw an ice cream store across the street. After finishing lunch, we made a beeline to the store. After having relaxing scoops of ice cream, we walked back to the car and hit the road again.
Maligne Lake is huge, longer than any other natural lake in the Northern Rockies (we are often amused at the qualifiers which get applied to claim something is largest, tallest, etc.) We were once again wondering about parking, but found a few empty spots, figuring that other people were starting to leave, so we were just taking their places.
We headed straight to the shore, and indeed, it was a large lake, especially considering that we couldn't see the whole thing. We wanted to do the Mary Schäffer loop, so we began.
The trail followed the lake for quite a while, then it veered away into the forest. We went by a couple meadows. One of the meadows contained the Opal Hills Trail, which was closed due to bear activity. We were surprised to not see a sign on the actual trail warning people.
Once we completed the loop, we went back the other way along the shore, ending up at the Maligne Lake Lodge. Unlike the other lodges and chateaus, this one was historic. Still in use, but closed when we were there. The buildings are log cabins structures with actual intersecting logs and chinking.
Rest of the day
We knew we had a long drive back, so even though we had originally planned on going to Miette Hot Springs next, we decided to punt and just go back to the room. That, and swimming in hot springs in 90°F-ish weather didn't really appeal.
So far we had seen some animal activity on Yellowhead Highway on the way back to our inn, and this day was no different. This time we had a whole bunch of bighorn sheep cross the road right in front of us. We let them pass, then continued on our way, picking up a few things from the store before eating in our room and calling it a night.