There are very few hikes that we’ve done with the kids that have felt as well balanced as Siffleur Falls. The 8km, give or take, out and back trail is on the easier side of hikes, and perfect for families.
Siffleur Falls Hike
This hike is located within the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve which encompasses approximately 34 square kilometres of the North Saskatchewan River valley south of Abraham Lake. The area is intersected by the Siffleur and North Saskatchewan rivers with open plains dominated by grasses, forbs and stands of aspen and limber pine trees. White spruce and lodgepole pines cover most of the surrounding slopes.
Starting off at the parking lot, you’ll want to arrive early in the day to ensure that you get a spot. Don’t fret if you don’t get a spot though, you can park on the road if you’ve arrived later in the day and the trail is busy.
Straight from the parking lot, you’ll have a view of the suspension bridge to cross, over the river to make the trail. On the other side, there’s a sandy beach to the left, and a rocky beach to the right, with shallow water that’s great for wading on the way out. Make a note of this, if you want to soak your feet in ice cold water.
After you’ve crossed the bridge, you’ll walk a bit on the trail to a boardwalk through the protected meadow. It was here that we spotted a Mama bear and two cubs, safe enough of a distance away, but close enough that we were able to see the cubs frolicking and the markings on the Mama bear’s face. We had bear spray, just in case, like all hikes, but they never got too close that we were concerned, and spent a few minutes watching the bears in the meadow.
From the meadow, you’ll enter more traditional trails, with some great views and small cliffs. It’s at this point you’ll find the most challenging part of the hike for small children, a couple of small hills to conquer. There are plenty of roots on this part of the trail, so you’ll want to have footwear that will give you sure footing, but it’s still an easy trail.
The trails will loop you around, into the forest, for the last part of the hike. That was one of our favourite parts of the hike, it was a whole new landscape before you reached the first lookout point of the Falls (there are three in total). The first lookout point is very near the second, and it’s where we decided to stop and have lunch as we sat on the ground, enjoying the view.
HOW TO GET THERE: It may be a bit ambitious for a day trip for some families, but we’re seasoned day trip professionals, so the just over a three hour drive from Calgary didn’t phase us. The trailhead is located nearest to Nordegg, and you can find full directions, here.
Places to Stop Before/After the Hike
ABRAHAM LAKE. You know those moments when you pass by something on your drive and you think about stopping? We always stop. That’s part of the adventure. This happened, when we passed by Abraham Lake, on the way to Siffleur Falls. The lakebed was incredibly dry, and cars were parked out near to the water. We decided that was going to be our spot for dinner – and drove our vehicle out the lakebed, crank up the fire pit and roast hot dogs for dinner.
It was magical. The water was freezing, but shallow enough for the kids to wade in. It wasn’t long before they got the idea to make a ‘mud slide’, like a slip n slide, from people about 100 feet away from. us, and eventually, every single kid was covered in mud from head to toe. They washed off most of the mud in the lake water, and dried with blankets, putting pyjamas over their muddy bodies.
Abraham Lake was full of people random camping at the Public Use Land Zones, dotting the shores of Abraham Lake, as we drove along. We’ve got plans to return next week.
CRESCENT FALLS. This is an easy stop, where you can drive into the Crescent Falls camping area, and get an immediate rush of the falls within 100f of the parking lot. It’s a good stop on the way home for ‘one more adventure’ and you can walk to both viewing areas, easily. Bring mosquito repellant for this one, the mosquitos here are thick.
We left our house at 7am, got home well after midnight, with mud in our hair and our hearts full of mountain air. We borough food and drinks with us, stopped for gas, and it was an inexpensive trip out.