Canyon Creek Ice Caves
This hike is more about the destination than the journey. The first 6.0km is more of a walk along a forestry road before things get good, with a steep 1.0km hike before we reach the cave.
Take Highway 66 from Calgary (about 35 minutes) and park along the old Canyon Creek Access Road across from the Elbow River Picnic Area.
|When to do|
Out and back
The Canyon Creek Ice Cave is a fairly deep cave sandwiched between Prairie and Moose Mountains. Its depths maintain a fairly cold temperature year round and as a result some pretty large and fascinating ice formations have developed. From the trail head you can see the cave as a black scar a few hundred meters below the ridge line.
The access road was closed in 2000 due to a large number of accidents with day-trippers not being prepared to enter the cave.
We’ll be honest, the first 6.0km is nothing to write home about compared to our other hikes. We follow a road closed to motor vehicles through the forest before reaching the good stuff. In the summer the wild flowers and wild life are the highlights of this early stretch. Don’t be surprised if you come across mountain goats, marmot and pikas on route.
As you leave the road and join the trail to gain elevation you will note the trails seems to branch off in a number of different directions. We found after some exploring that almost all will link back up immediately before we reach the cave. Try to follow the most well defined path as we did and you should not have any issues. The walk up is relatively steep, and depending on your path you may find some scree, but we gauge it more difficult physically than technically.
As you reach the entrance take a few minutes and put on your safety gear and turn on your headlamp. It is going to get dark! While there are close to 0.5km of tunnels in this cave, we recommend novices stick to the first 0.1km of the main cavern.
To safely navigate the cave we strongly recommend you bring headlamps, rock helmets, warm clothing, and backup lighting. Consider bring a two-way radio.
The caves can be slippery, consider traction devices.
Do not be tempted to drop down the steep rock slope down to the access road.
Consider bringing a bike to shorten the time necessary to travel the access road and get straight to the good stuff.
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