Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Ice Falls and Caves of Fish Creek Provincial Park

Did you know Fish Creek Provincial Park has ice falls and caves? Less than a kilometre from the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, the "cave loop" (as we affectionately call it) offers hours of fun for little explorers. 

Details

Parking: Park at the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre (put 15979 Bow Bottom Trail into your GPS, then follow the park signs to the Visitor Centre - it will be a right turn off of Bow Bottom Tr)
Distance: 2 km loop (700 metres to the ice falls)
Stroller Friendly? Yes 
Trail surface: pavement and gravel
Washrooms? Yes at Visitor Centre, but check their hours before heading out.

Map to Ice Falls and Caves at Fish Creek Provincial Park
(Google Maps)

Route Description A (no creek crossing required)

From the parking lot, head south (opposite direction from Visitor Centre) and cross the bridge.

Cross here!
Turn right to do the loop counterclockwise so you see the ice falls first! (We almost ran out of time on our visit because the kids had so much fun in the caves.) With the creek on your right, keep going straight until you reach a bench; the cave is on your left and the falls are straight ahead.

Fish Creek
The cave is on the left, the falls are straight ahead
The cave!
If you're lucky, there will be ice falls on the cave! If there's no ice, continue a short distance down the trail to see the big falls (~4 metres high). While it is possible to hike up close to the falls from the upper trail, I don't recommend it without good boots and ice cleats. It is slippery! If you would like a good top-to-bottom view of the falls, it is possible from the creekbed or other side of the creek. At the time of our visit, the creek wasn't frozen, so we stayed off the ice.

Trail to the Ice Falls - slippery with a dropoff, please don't bring little kids here!
Image Credit: Kathryn Fisher Molcak
Fish Creek Ice Falls
Image Credit: Kathryn Fisher Molcak
Fish Creek Ice Falls
At this point, you can go back the way you came, or go back to the fork in the trail and take the trail on the right to see two more caves! Use caution when exploring caves - there could be rockfall or wildlife inside. On our visit there was a bunny in the cave, so we were confident there were no predators there.

Another Fish Creek Park Cave
Fish Creek Park
Love the cottonwood trees!
Snow fun at Fish Creek Park

Route Description B (shortcut - creek crossing required)

Turn right here!

The shortcut to the falls involves crossing the creek which can be in various states of freeze and thaw with our weather. Head out from the visitor centre, turn right at the bridge, and very shortly, you will see the beautiful falls across the creek. If the creek is low and frozen, you may venture across for a better look. *FOR SAFETY REASONS, I CANNOT RECOMMEND GOING ON THE FROZEN CREEK OR IN THE ICE CAVE. DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.*


Exploring Further

The Visitor Centre and nearby heritage buildings are well worth a visit! The exhibits inside the visitor centre, and plaques outside, describe the area's rich history. There are also several beautiful sculptures  in the Artisan Gardens near the Ranche Restaurant.

Tipi in the Fish Creek Visitor Centre
Annie's Cafe
We were hoping to visit Annie's Cafe for a treat, but they are closed for the winter. You can, however, still enjoy their treats at the Bow Valley Ranche's Afternoon Tea (Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant - not to be confused with the Visitor Centre)!


One of the many beautiful sculptures in the park.
Old wagon 
Bow Valley Ranche - beautiful building and great eats!

I hope you have as much fun at Fish Creek Provincial Park as we did!

Disclosure: I am an Alberta Parks Ambassador, but opinions and words are my own!

More Fun Family Hikes

Waterfall Valley, Douglas Fir Trail, & 3 Cool Spots in Nose Hill Park  (the pond, big rocks, and Medicine Wheel)

Landmarks to Look for in Calgary Parks

Inglewood By Bike - Day Trip Itinerary

Ice Hikes Near Calgary (Johnston Canyon, Grotto Canyon, Jura Canyon)

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (near Cochrane)

Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park (near Exshaw)

2 comments :

If you want another ice adventure destination in Calgary, try the gulley on the far west edge of Valley Ridge. Its very fun for kids and goes for a mile from the highway all the way to the Bow.

Cool! I didn't know about that one! Thanks so much!!

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