Bald Hills Hike is the easiest hike to the mountain top in Jasper National Park. With panoramic views of Maligne Lake and the valleys surrounding it, the best view to effort ratio is hard to beat.
While there is no shortage of hikes to the mountain tops in Jasper, they usually require a full day and the trail is steep as you gain elevation. But not on Bald Hills. Even though it’s technically a hill and not a mountain, you will definitely get a feeling of being on top of the world when you see the views from the summit. Plan your trip with our comprehensive travel guide to Jasper National Park.
In this post you will read why we liked this hike (and you will as well), where is the trailhead, when is the best time to go and lots of photos so you know what to expect on the trail.
The Maligne Lake area, where the trailhead to Bald Hills is located, is a very popular place. Visitors can rent a canoe and paddle around the lake, take a boat tour to the Spirit Island – the famous photo location, and more adventurous travelers can rent a canoe and paddle around the lake for a few days while staying at backcountry campgrounds.
There are several hiking trails starting from Maligne Lake and Bald Hills Hike is our favourite.
More hiking ideas:
- Hiking in Jasper National Park: 17 best hikes for all levels
- 20 best hikes in Banff National Park
- Hiking in Yoho National Park
Pros & Cons of the Bald Hills Hike
- A great mountain top hike for little effort
- Ideal for beginners due to little elevation gain
- A prime area for wildlife
- The trail is signed and easy to follow
- Escaping the crowds at popular Maligne lake area
- Half of the trail is in the forest with no views
Where are Bald Hills
Bald Hills are located in Jasper National Park, around 49 km from the town of Jasper. Even though it might seem far away, there are plenty of activities you can do on the way besides hiking. The Maligne Lake area, from which this hike starts, is so beautiful that everyone visiting Jasper goes there. For even more ideas, read our post about 65 adventurous things to do in Jasper.
The end of Maligne Lake Road below is where the parking lot and trailhead are located.
How to get to Bald Hills
Because Jasper doesn’t have any public transport or shuttles, the only option is to rent a car and drive there yourself. If you want to make the most of your time, the same goes for any national park in the Canadian Rockies.
From Jasper, head north on Yellowhead Highway and then take the first right to Maligne Lake Road. You will follow the road all the way to Maligne Lake. Once you arrive at the lake, drive past all the buildings and cross the Maligne River bridge until you arrive at the end of the paved road and a parking lot. You’ll see an old fire road with a kiosk that is the start of the Bald Hills Hike.
Bald Hills Hike in Jasper National Park
- Distance: 12 km (3-4 hours)
- Elevation gain: 550 m
- Maximum elevation: 2,300 m
- Difficulty: moderate (the trail is not technical or rocky)
- Best time to go: late June to late September
- Gear: water (there’s no option along the way to fill up your bottle), windproof jacket, running shoes, bear spray
(You will read below the reason we only hiked 9.5 km)
We arrived at Maligne Lake in the afternoon. The hiking season was barely starting as we will learn later on. We weren’t even sure how long the hike would take as we were tired from previous very active days. Luckily, the sun sets very late in June and you can hike almost until 10pm.
We located the kiosk at the old dirt fire road and started the hike, at this time it was more of a walk. The first 2.5 km is almost entirely flat on the dirt road with little elevation gain.
From this point, there is a sign which divides the trail:
- You can either continue on the fire road which is longer but also less steep. You go basically around the hill and then up.
- Or you can turn left and hike on a narrower trail through the forest. This trail is half the distance but steeper.
Either way, you arrive at the same place and continue on the main trail.
We chose the latter as we wanted to have the boring part in the forest behind us sooner. If you choose this trail, keep an eye on the sign on the left-hand side in the forest at about 2.5 km. The steep climb seemed never-ending but it’s only 1.5 km.
Once that part was behind us, the views opened up. They truly are spectacular. You can see the majority of Maligne Lake and surrounding peaks. And because we’ve visited so early in the season, there were absolutely no people around.
The end of the trail through the forest was flat and we saw the top of the Bald Hills in front of us. It was a very hot day but the trail was still muddy from melting snow and we encountered more snow than expected.
What started as ankle-deep snow with footprints from previous hikers quickly turned into knee-deep. At this point, I’m sure we didn’t follow the trail as it was nowhere to be found and covered in snow. So we followed someone else’s footprints until they stopped and the snow was more than one meter high. We struggled for a while fully determined to get to the top.
We were literally forced to give up just below the summit because our hands and feet were frozen. The snow was just too high to struggle with. We warmed up with a hot tea, enjoyed the quietness, the sunset views and headed back down. Nevertheless, after 2.5 hours it was still a good hike.
If you visit in dry conditions, you will follow the trail to the summit and then continue on the ridge, making a loop on top.
Another great day in Jasper ended spectacularly. Driving the Maligne Lake Road before sunset is a great opportunity to see wildlife. We saw a moose and six (!!) bears while watching a colourful sunset at Medicine Lake.
Know before you go
- National park entrance
When you enter Jasper National Park, you’re required to pay an entrance fee. You have a choice of either a daily pass or a yearly pass.
As of 2020, the fees are:
- 10 CAD per person for a daily pass, 20 CAD for a group/family
- 69.19 CAD per person for a yearly pass, 139.40 CAD for a group/family
The yearly Discovery Pass is valid for all National Parks in Canada. You can purchase it at the gate when you enter the national park, in the Visitor’s Centre or online here.
Read our recommendation: Hiking packing list for summer in the mountains
- Staying in Jasper National Park
To have the most freedom and enjoy nature to the fullest while staying on a budget, we always recommend staying in the campgrounds. Jasper National Park has many of them with picturesque scenery (glacier view anyone?). Read our comprehensive guide about Camping in Jasper National Park for all camping info and lots of pictures of the campgrounds.
- Road closure
For road closures due to avalanche dangers in Jasper National Park, check out the report from Parks Canada.
Accurate road conditions can be checked here.
- Trail report
Before you head out, check current trail conditions on Trail Report from Parks Canada.
- Bear country
As always in the Canadian Rockies, you are in bear habitat. You should always carry a bear spray (can be purchased at Visitor’s Centre or outdoor stores), know when and how to use it and make noise while hiking and running (so you don’ surprise any bears)! Carefully read these instructions on how to behave around them.
Additional reading about the Canadian Rockies
Plan your trip with our suggested Jasper itinerary.
More hikes in Jasper National Park:
Plan your trip to the Rockies:
- Epic travel guide to the Canadian Rockies
- 100 things to do in Banff National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Banff National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Yoho National Park
- Icefields Parkway itinerary: a scenic drive from Lake Louise to Jasper
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