Canyon Creek Ice Caves

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
3-4.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
13.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
285 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.4
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Read Reviews
Directions to Trailhead
Panorama from the Canyon Creek Ice Caves hike in Kananaskis near Canmore

This hike is more about the destination than the journey. The first 6.0 km is more of a walk along a forestry road before things get good, with a steep 1.0 km hike before we reach the cave.

Guide-book quality info for over 8,000 trails

View Trails on the Map

View Map

Route Description

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 6.0 km 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 0.5 km of tunnels in this cave, we recommend novices stick to the first 0.1 km of the main cavern.

http://www.caving.ab.ca

Insider Hints

  • 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.

Getting There

Take Highway 66 from Calgary (about 35 minutes) and park along the old Canyon Creek Access Road across from the Elbow River Picnic Area.

Route Details

  • When to do

    Year Round

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    No

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    None

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Elevation Graph

Weather

Check Area Weather

Reviews

Add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Nearby Trails

Nearby Regions