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Heart Creek Trail is a popular hike that is suitable for people of all abilities. The hike offers beautiful scenery along an easy walking trail to a waterfall. At the end of the trail if you’re feeling adventurous you can climb into the waterfall canyon or hike to the top of the falls.
Time Required: 2-3 Hours
Location: 90km west of Calgary off Hwy 1
Distance: 5-6km round trip depending if you go to the top of the waterfall
Elevation Gain: 542m to the top of the waterfall
Difficulty: 3/10 – easy trail with minimal elevation gain
Season: June to mid-October for summer conditions
Additional Requirements: N/A
From Calgary: Take the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) west approximately 90 km to the turnoff for Lac Des Arcs (Range Rd 91A). Park in the designated gravel parking lot just south of Hwy 1.
From Canmore: Take the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) east 15 km to the turnoff for Lac Des Arcs (Range Rd 91A). Park in the designated gravel parking lot just south of Hwy 1.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes or a good pair of runners.
- Water: Even though Heart Creek Trail is a short hike it is always a good idea to bring water
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike and at the waterfall. Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Weather appropriate clothing: You will be exposed to the elements throughout this hike. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
- Bear Spray: You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Wildlife: You will be hiking in bear country. It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: Heart Creek Trail is an out and back hike that follows a creek to a waterfall. The trail is easy to follow and has minimal elevation gain. Near the waterfall there is a side trail with more elevation that takes you to the top of the waterfall.
From the parking lot (Route marker #1 on the map) follow the clearly marked trail.
Take a right at the yellow sign (Route marker #2 on the map) to Heart Creek Canyon and then follow the trail along the creek. The scenic trial is about 2km long and will cross Heart Creek multiple times.
At the end of the trail is a waterfall (Route marker #4 on the map) but it can be difficult to see as it is deep inside the canyon. If you want to get a better view of the waterfall we recommend checking it out from the top of the canyon! From the waterfall canyon backtrack to the last wooden bridge you crossed (Route marker #3 on the map). From there, if you stand on the wooden bridge facing the waterfall canyon, there is a path behind you on the right side that will loop around to the top of the waterfall.
Follow the trail up to the top of the falls. This is the best place to view and take photos of the waterfall so explore a bit before heading back down to the creek.
If you are feeling adventurous when you arrive back at the creek you can follow it into the canyon to the bottom of the waterfall. We’d recommended that you leave anything electronic or valuable behind before venturing into the canyon as it is very slippery and there is a good chance you will get wet. Be careful of your footing when crossing the floating logs into the canyon as they are not very stable and will move under your feet.
Once you’re inside the canyon you have a good view of the waterfall. You also have the option of going for a very cold swim if you want to get closer!
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
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We also want to hear about your Heart Creek Trail adventures. If you have stories, pictures or even a link to your own adventure video please share them below!
Have fun out there!