BEAUTIFUL!! I just wanted to scream those words. I was so blown away with the Maligne Lake scenery in Jasper National Park. It was much, much grander than I expected. And kayaking Maligne Lake is one of the best ways to experience the grandeur, especially once you get past Spirit Island.
Maligne Lake is only 44 km (27 miles) from the town of Jasper. It’s an incredibly popular spot to take the Maligne Lake boat cruise (including Spirit Island) – which I highly recommend doing, but only if you’re not inclined to canoe or kayak. Kayaking Maligne Lake is an exceptional experience and one that gets you into a part of Jasper National Park few people see. As a day trip from Coronet Creek Campground, you can hike the Henry MacLeod Trail – and you probably won’t see another soul.
The post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much for your support.
Kayaking Maligne Lake summary
- You do need a Parks Canada pass to go kayaking on Maligne Lake.
- I’d recommend three or four nights out – with two nights at Coronet Creek Campground and one or two nights at Fisherman’s Bay.
- Canoes, kayaks or a boat powered with a tiny motor – 3 horsepower or less I believe are allowed.
- Bear lockers are provided as are tent pads at each campsite.
- The map for this trip is Gem Trek Jasper and Maligne Lake.
- There is an open air – but private – toilet at the Coronet Creek Campground.
- Bring a tarp and pack for every possible type of weather – from sun to snow.
- You can have a fire in the fire ring. As the summer progresses firewood will be increasingly difficult to find. Consider loading up your kayak or canoe on the way down to the campsite.
- Dogs are allowed on a leash – even at the campsites.
- You can rent canoes and kayaks right on Maligne Lake though the prices are steep.
Recommended reading: Kayaker’s Checklist: 100 Items to Pack
Getting campsites on Maligne Lake
Kayaking Maligne Lake for its full 22 km length was our plan so we could camp at the Coronet Creek Campground. At precisely 8 AM, with two phones going, I nabbed the last campsite on the day I booked.
Weekdays are easier to book than weekends. Phone (780) 852-6177 (MST) or book a backcountry reservation in Jasper National Park starting on March 20, 2023 at 8 AM MST.
It costs $11.50 to make a reservation and $12.75 per person per night to camp.
You can camp for a maximum of two nights at each of the three campsites. Wardens come around and check that you have a valid permit.
- Hidden Cove is the first one you reach, 3.5 km from the Maligne Lake launch site. It’s got four sites in a sheltered cove and the distance is perfect for families.
- Fisherman’s Bay is next, 13 km down from the launch site, just past the Samson Narrows and only one kilometre from Spirit Island. It has 8 campsites. Reportedly it’s a great place for fishing – but be sure to get a permit.
- Coronet Creek is 21.3 km down from the put in. It’s a beautiful spot with 8 campsites.
If you didn’t get the campsite reservation you were looking for, don’t give up. Be the first to know when there is a campsite cancellation for your desired trip dates by visiting Schnerp.
Location map of Maligne Lake
The best time for kayaking Maligne Lake
We kayaked Maligne Lake over the July long weekend. Bugs were never a issue but often from early July until mid-August the bugs can be a royal pain and detract from the trip. Of course if it’s windy that’s not a problem – except for paddling.
September can be a great time to paddle – but you have to keep an eye on storms. It varies a lot from year to year.
If you do go in the buggy season be sure to take lots of insect repellent and perhaps a bug jacket.
Photographs showing what its like kayaking Maligne Lake
Where to stay the night before kayaking Maligne Lake
It’s a good idea to spend the night before in Jasper so you can get an early start on the morning you want to paddle. You can certainly book a campground in Jasper – but do that well in advance.
Recommended reading: Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway
Your other option is one of the many hotels on the strip in Jasper. In summer, they tend to book up quickly.
Suggestions include The Crimson Jasper, Pine Bungalows and Tekarra Lodge.
Some gear to take on the kayaking trip
There are a couple of items I’d suggest for your kayaking trip.
Take some Tenacious Tape – in case you rip something like your tent or jacket.
A camp pillow makes a big difference to how well you sleep.
Don’t forget to take a water filter or tablets for water purification.
Further reading on paddling in western Canada
- Kayaking Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
- 7 of the Best Places to go Kayaking in BC
- 3 of the Best Canoe Routes in British Columbia
- Paddling the Peace River: A Fabulous Alberta Adventure
Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.