Cascade Falls, Alberta

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Cascade Falls in September 2014

I couldn’t remember Cascade Falls right away, but once I saw a picture, it began to come back very quickly. I remembered passing by Cascade Falls as I went west through Banff, and yet I didn’t stop. I’m not really sure why…it may have been that I had passed the exit near the falls. So on the way back, I remember seeing it out of the corner of my eye, and I quickly exited the Trans-Canadian Highway and found that there were indeed places where I could pull off and take photos of the falls.

At approximately 1000′ in height, I didn’t feel any need to get closer to the falls. After doing a bit of research, it appears there is a path that will get you closer to the falls. In winter, there are even people that do ice climbing on the falls. In early September, the ice climbing obviously wasn’t an option! And earlier in the year, you’re likely to find more water flowing, which might make hiking to the base a bit more worthwhile. I was honestly just happy to be able to stop and photograph the falls, as there are other instances where cool waterfalls of this sort aren’t so easily captured since there’s no nice place to pull off.

Directions:

  1. This is a very easy one to find as it’s right off of Trans-Canadian Highway 1. As you’re heading into Banff, take the exit for BanffMinnewanka LoopBoucle Minnewanka. From there, head north along Range Road 115B.
  2. After just a few hundred feet, find a place to pull off and photograph the falls, which will be to your left. If you’re interested in hiking to the base, you’ll have to look for further directions. It sounds like there’s an easy to find trail nearby.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~1000′
Hike: roadside, though hike possible

Where in the World is Cascade Falls?

Wapta Falls, British Columbia

I had somehow misread how far I was going to have to hike to view Wapta Falls. I thought it was a roadside waterfall, so when I arrived to see a sign that said it was a 2.4 km hike, I hesitated for a very brief second. But then I thought to myself, “It’s early, the first hike of the day…This shouldn’t be any issue.” And it wasn’t. There are parts of the hike that are more uphill and downhill that I might have expected, but it was totally worth it. The reward is a 330′ wide waterfall. The height is said to be 100′ tall, but I’m inclined to agree with the World Waterfall Database that about 60′ seems more like it.

Wapta Falls is still massive in size. I might not completely trust the sign at the trail head concerning water volume, but I would hazard to guess it’s in the top 5 in Canada. Just having a lot of water flowing over doesn’t necessarily make a waterfall interesting to me, though. What I found fascinating about this waterfall was the variety of different viewpoints that produced uniquely different photographs. When you’re above the crest of the falls, you’ll probably get the most complete view, except for the far right portion of the falls.

If you continue down to the base of the falls, you’ll struggle to completely see the falls, but you’ll get some interesting view of the falls with the mountains in the background. And if you climb the “rock island” directly in front of the falls, you’ll be able to see most of the falls in amazing detail, but you’ll have about 1 second to take a photograph before your camera and/or glasses are just completely covered with spray from the falls. There’s another point on the left side where there’s an opening in the “island”, and you can actually view the falls free from spray, though that may have been due to wind conditions. It’s a really fascinating waterfall, and with Takakkaw Falls (at 1200’+) nearby, it’s a great waterfall day.

A note about directions: I lucked out. The book I had made it clear that there was no access to the Wapta Falls Road if you’re headed WEST along Trans-Canada Highway 1. (If you knew the correct location, you might be able to turn, but there’s no sign in the westbound direction. I was in Golden, BC, so on the way back on the eastbound route, the sign was very clear. If you’re headed west, there is a place to turn around a few kilometers later.

Directions:

  1. Headed eastbound along Trans-Canada Highway 1, enter Yoho National Park. A few kilometers after entering the park, you’ll see a sign for Wapta Falls on your right.
  2. Turn onto the unpaved road to the Wapta Falls trail head. It’s a 2 km drive, and it isn’t terrible, though you will have to navigate some potholes. It’s a straight shot ending at the trail head.
  3. It’s a 2.4 km one-way hike from the trail head. It’s easy for the first half, and then suddenly starts climbing uphill and downhill for the second half. As you approach the falls, there is one brief portion that is moderately steep.
  4. Keep following the trail to the base of the falls. The trail is safer than I expected it to be, though as usual, be careful!

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 58′
Length of Hike: 3.0 miles round-trip

Wapta Falls from above the crest (September 2014)

Wapta Falls from the base

Wapta Falls from the base

Where in the World is Wapta Falls?

McDonald Falls, British Columbia

McDonald Falls in August 2010

About 2 hours outside of downtown Vancouver, you can find Cascade Falls Regional Park. For mid-August, this park was relatively popular, though it does take some time to get to. The drive is really beautiful, though. If you’re looking for another waterfall that is relatively easy to visit, and yet has far fewer visitors, search for McDonald Falls. It’s only 2 miles or so from Cascade Falls.

After following the directions below, you’ll end up very close to the falls. You will have to hike downhill, and if I recall, there wasn’t an extremely clear, defined path. It was still not that difficult. I think there may have been two separate drops, and one of the drops was partially blocked by trees next to the creek. The other drop was far more visible. The photo next door may look different than what you experience, at least somewhat…I had a 55-200 mm lens that made it far more difficult to photograph the whole falls, and I had no wish to hike back up the hill, get the other lens, and repeat the process over again! It does require some effort!

Directions:

  1. If you’re coming from Transcanadian Highway 1, you’ll want to exit toward Mission onto BC-7.
  2. Drive east of Mission on BC-7 for about 6.5 km to Sylvester Rd.
  3. Turn left on Sylvester Rd. Head 13 km down Sylvester Rd.
  4. After a distance, you’ll see a sign for Cascade Falls. Keep heading down that road a short distance, where Lost Creek Forest Service Road starts. It’s a dirt road, so it’s pretty difficult to miss. McDonald Falls is about 1.3 miles down that road past the bridge over Munro Creek.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is McDonald Falls?

Cascade Falls, British Columbia

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Cascade Falls in August 2010

Cascade Falls is a rather easily accessible waterfall not very far from British Columbia (at least relatively). There are many waterfalls within 100 miles of Vancouver if you head north on BC-99, but there are also waterfalls found if you head east on Transcanadian Highway 1.

The hike to Cascade Falls is very easy, as there is a trail leading to the falls. Once you get there, you might be slightly disappointed. There is a fence blocking further viewing of the falls. This is because the area below the falls seems rather dangerous, especially when people don’t think. I don’t actually mind the fence. I just wish there was a “better” view of the falls. From the viewpoint where the trail ends, there are trees that are blocking getting a good picture. Your best bet would be to walk back along the fencing blocking you and try to find a point where you can get a better view. I had to slip the camera lens through the opening in the fence to get a better view.

Update: Though I haven’t visited, as of 2015, there is now a suspension bridge over the creek that seems to lead to much better views. Check it out!

Directions:

  1. If you’re coming from Transcanadian Highway 1, you’ll want to exit toward Mission onto BC-7.
  2. Drive east of Mission on BC-7 for about 6.5 km to Sylvester Rd.
  3. Turn left on Sylvester Rd. Head 13 km down Sylvester Rd.
  4. You’ll find the road leading to Cascade Falls on your right. Pay attention. There will be a sign, but I can’t remember if it was that obvious.
  5. Head to the end of the road to the parking lot, and then start the short hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cascade Falls?

Flood Falls, British Columbia

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Flood Falls in August 2010

I spent a while trying to find Flood Falls. It is interesting trying to interpret someone else’s directions, especially when you’re not coming from the same direction. I wandered around, and then decided to give up on trying to find the falls. I drove back into Hope and decided to stop at the visitor’s center. (British Columbia does a SPECTACULAR job at promoting tourism. The people at the visitor’s center were amazingly helpful.) I noticed on one of the maps that there was the same Flood Falls I had been searching for.

I decided to follow the directions on the brochure, and low and behold, it worked! I was able to find the trailhead to the falls. From there, it was a very enjoyable hike, even though the temperatures were higher than I expected. It’s mid-August, so the water levels were pretty low. I imagine that the water levels are higher earlier in the season. There still is water, though!!! The falls were secluded, though very easy to access, and it was so enjoyable just to sit there and enjoy the beauty surrounding me. On the way back to the car, though, I did somehow manage to end up on another trail and landed a few hundred feet from the car.

Directions:

  1. I started out in Hope heading west on Flood Hope Road.
  2. After a ways, you will pass over Silver Creek (also goes by another name) and then you’ll go over an overpass above Transcanadian Highway 1. Keep going!
  3. After about 2 miles, you’ll come to a Husky gas station. There is an entrance to the highway just nearby this gas station.
  4. Directly after the gas station, turn left. Head across the 2nd overpass you’ll encounter. Go to the very end of that road.
  5. When you look around, you’ll notice two “roads” that don’t really look like roads. Take the left road, which is more of a road than it appears! It is unnamed.
  6. After a hundred feet or so, you should see the sign for the trailhead leading to the falls on your right.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 1200′ (only 250′ is really visible)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Flood Falls?