For an easy but definitely interesting hike, with some mountain travel and a bit of distance from the well-trodden paths of Maligne Lake, try the trail that leads to Jacques Lake.

The trailhead is hidden beside a stream at the south end of Medicine Lake, on the Maligne Valley road. Just a short walk of about a kilometer and a half (about 1 mile) up an old fire road takes you to a lovely picnic site in the forest beside the shores of Beaver Lake. This picturesque lake lies at the foot of a steep mountain slope, and walking beside it on the trail gives a clear view of the bottom and the fish that live there. A favourite haunt of birdwatchers and fishermen. A great spot to take little kids and not bad for Grandma, either.  

If you're up for a bit more of a challenge, follow the trail farther on, through a more open area, to the Summit Lakes. The trail to the first lake is wide, level, and open and takes you to a meadow at the side of the lake. Mountains all around, and a great place for a break and to take photos. Just before you get there, a sign points the way to the second Summit Lake, and a narrow, rooted, and often muddy single track takes you on an adventurous jaunt through the forest. The second Summit Lake is also a nice stop and the 10 km (6.2 mi) round trip distance makes it a nice little half-day trip if you choose to turn around there. Although the elevation gain is minimal, remember that these are called the 'Summit' Lakes, and just past the second one, the streams you see are suddenly running in the opposite direction!

Once past the second Summit Lake, you are on your way to Jacques Lake, following a creek that soon grows into the Rocky River. The trail is not an easy one, and while it's rarely steep, it is narrow, rooted, and frequently wet and boggy. You're on a real trail through the trees, that twists and turns and takes you around mysterious corners, through sometimes dense brush and forest glades. You'll cross a number of small streams, and clamber up the banks of a few larger ones. The total distance to Jacques Lake is 13 km (8 mi), so the return trip of 26 km (16 mi) is either a very long day hike, or an overnight backpack.

There is a beautiful campground beside Jacques Lake across the river from the Rocky River Warden Station, and you are likely to see a moose or two browsing on the grasses by the shore. If you plan on staying overnight, a backcountry pass is required, available from the Jasper Information Centre. Book well ahead. Many people drive up from Edmonton on a Saturday morning, hike up to Jacques Lake in the afternoon, camp overnight, then hike back out on Sunday morning.

The full hike can be done as a one-day trip and it's not too difficult to do the whole 26 km (16 mi) if you start early enough. If you're just looking for a pleasant day hike with some great views and some peace and quiet, go partway up, picking a place to stop that's suited to your mood and energy levels. Instead of fighting the crowds at other, more popular spots, you'll have a real hike in the mountains and might even find yourself alone for much of the journey.