During my weekend in Jasper National Park in the summer of 2020, I joined a hike called Bald Hills Trail. This hike begins near Maligne Lake, one of the most photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies. While it is a goal of my to one day canoe the length of this 22 km lake on a multi-day trip, for now I will have to settle with hiking nearby (it is notoriously hard to book the campsites along the lake).
Bald Hills is a moderate hike, with the most strenuous aspect being the length. The full loop is 15 km, with 780 m of elevation gain. We were treated to multiple different seasons with the weather, from sun to rain to snow. This is why you should always hike prepared in the mountains. If you need more tips for what to bring, check out my post here on my recommended “Must Haves” for hiking in the Rockies.
We began the hike on a gravel fire road. The first 2 km are relatively flat, allowing your body to get warmed up before the real cardio starts. We opted to take the shortcut, which is a thin trail running up the hill at a much steeper angle than the fire road. This area was muddy in places, so we had to watch our step. As we climbed, we took breaks to check our progress and watched as Maligne lake changed colours under the shifting clouds.
As the trail flattened out before the final push to the summit, we passed a group of hikers with a bulldog strapped to one of the hikers backs. We exchanged words with this group and all of us were relieved that we didn’t have to do the hike with an extra 20 kilos on our backs.
The view from the last section of the hike was truly spectacular. We climbed the hill with Maligne Lake stretching into the distance on one side, and towering mountains on the other. We climbed to the final peak for some photos, but didn’t stay here long. The strong winds at the summit quickly forced us to choose another spot for lunch. We climbed down the back side of the hill and found a more sheltered lunch spot. The weather got colder as we ate, and we all added more and more layers to counter the dropping temperature.
After lunch we wandered around the far side of the hill. In the valley behind us, one of my fellow hikers caught a glimpse of a rainbow and managed to snap a photo before it disappeared. The sun emerged from the clouds once more, but the wind stayed strong so many of the lunchtime layers remained. We explored the rocks and lookouts along the side of the hill and the valley before turning back.
The hike down we encountered some snow, both left on the side of the hill as well as in the air. The summer weather is truly optional in the mountains. We took the fire road route back, as it was easier on the knees and less precarious than the steep trail we had climbed up on. The descent felt quick compared to the ascent, and our tired feet considered it a hike well done.
If you are planning a summer trip to Jasper and are unsure what to do well you’re there, I would certainly recommend this hike. It is moderately difficult, but the views are more than worthwhile. It is certainly accessible to families with preteens and teenagers, while parents of young children should assess the skill of their children.