Top 7 ‘Locals Approved’ Waterfall Hikes in the Bow Valley

Written by
Staff Writer
August 16, 2023
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Get ready for the most unforgettable waterfall hikes, curated just for you! From beginner-friendly trails to moderately challenging where you might need to catch your breath halfway, we've got it all covered. All of these gems are nestled within the picturesque Bow Valley area, just a short drive from Canmore, Banff or Calgary.

Cat Creek Waterfall

Cat Creek Waterfall Trail is located in Kananaskis Country, which means you will need to purchase a valid Kananaskis Conservation Park Pass to enter the park. Day passes can only be purchased online and are per day, per vehicle.

The Cat Creek Waterfall trail is known for its moderate challenge and typically takes around an hour to complete. The area is popular for hiking, and running, so expect to encounter fellow adventurers during your exploration.

The trail's first half treats you to a delightful display of local wildflowers and butterflies—a perfect introduction for beginners and families with kids. If an incline doesn't bother you and the little ones, this hike is a great choice. The best times to experience this scenic trail are from March to November. Dog lovers are welcome to bring their furry friends, as long as they remain on a leash.

Moderate | 2.6km (1.62mi) | 58 minutes to complete | 149m (488ft) | Out n’ Back

Photo Credit: Jack Quincy |

Junction Creek to Junction Falls

For a little more exciting adventure, consider the Junction Creek to Junction Falls Trail. This hike leads you through forests and alongside Junction Creek, usually popular for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

This is a 13.4-km out and back trail near Kananaskis. Note that there are a few river crossings along the way and depending on the time of year, the water levels will vary with late summer being at its lowest. ! The trail culminates at Junction Falls, offering a towering image of the falls, with crystal clear water pooling at the bottom. This trail is best suited for visiting between June and October, as the road leading to the trailhead closes seasonally. Dogs are welcome on the trail, although they must be kept on a leash.

Moderately Challenging | 13.4km (8.33mi) | 4h 12 min to complete | 527m (1729ft) | Out n’ Back

Photo Credit: Dawood Nasser via AllTrails

Troll Falls and Hay Meadow Trail Loop

What makes this waterfall unique is its easy accessibility, allowing you to walk right up to the base of the waterfall, to be enjoyed even in the winter when the water freezes. Troll Falls and Hay Meadow Trail Loop is popular for cross country skiing, hiking and trail running.

The 3.7-kilometer out-and-back trail leads you back through the scenic hay meadow, offering spectacular views, wildflower sightings, and the nearby river.

Easy | 3.7km (2.30mi) | 1h 16 min to complete | 176m (577ft) | Out n’ Back

Edworthy Falls

Edworthy Falls via Elbow Lake Trail is a very popular area for birding, hiking and snowshoeing. This is a 9.8km out and back trail near Kananaskis. An incline starts at the trailhead and then flattens after a few km’s. This can be considered an easier hike for intermediate hikers/walkers.

The best time to visit this trail is through June and October. You can bring the pups, as long as they are kept on a leash. Tip: There are pink ribbons along the trail that will show you to the falls if you mistakenly take a wrong turn on the trail.

Moderate | 9.8km (6.1mi) | 3h 7 min to complete | 401m (1315ft) | Out n’ Back

Photo Credit: Whitney Olson via AllTrails

Bow Glacier Falls

Bow Glacier Falls is a popular 8.9-km out-and-back trail near Lake Louise, Alberta. It is moderately challenging and open year-round, welcoming hikers, snowshoers, and runners. Leashed dogs are allowed, and families with kids will enjoy the flat hike with easy access to the beautiful waterfall, accompanied by serene lake and creek views. A perfect adventure for all ages.

Moderate | 8.9km (5.53mi) | 2h 33 min to complete | 282m (925ft) | Out n’ Back

Photo Credit: Mitchell Sutton via All Trails
Photo Credit: Katie Brown via AllTrails

Takakkaw Falls

Located in Yoho National Park, near the Kicking Horse Pass in British Columbia, Takakkaw Falls is a breathtaking waterfall worth adding to your list. The hike to the falls is relatively easy, with a short 1.4-km walk leading to an impressive view of the falls. Witnessing the 254-meter-tall waterfall in all its glory is a truly awe-inspiring experience. The best time to visit this trail is April through September.

Moderate | 1.8km (1.12mi) | 35 min to complete | 78m (256ft) | Out n’ Back

Photo Credit: Nisha Simhan via AllTrails

Laughing Falls

Also situated in Yoho National Park, Laughing Falls is another gem that can be reached closer from British Columbia. The hike to Laughing Falls is around 5.8 km and considered moderate in difficulty. You can take the Yoho Valley Trail for more scenic views which will add an additional 2.9km that is well worth it. As you venture through the scenic trails, you'll be rewarded with the sight of Laughing Falls, where the water cascades with a delightful laughter-like sound, earning its name.

Moderate | 8.7km (5.4mi) | 2h 40 min to complete | 324m (1063ft) | Out n’ Back

Embark on these incredible waterfall hikes in the Bow Valley, tried and tested by locals, for an unforgettable adventure and make sure to have suitable hiking footwear, layer your clothing for rapid weather changes, and pack light snacks, ample water, and sunscreen. It's crucial to note that water levels at these waterfalls vary seasonally, so before you go, consult AllTrails for recent reviews on water conditions and trail upkeep. Additionally, as you'll be in bear territory, don't forget to pack bear spray for your safety. After your hike, make sure you have a base for all of your outdoor adventures and unwind at one of our many Basecamp Resorts properties, throughout the Bow Valley.

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