Hiking Siffleur Falls, Alberta

Our Canada Day this year was spent enjoying the great outdoors in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. We camped in an area called the Kootenay Plains and we made some new friends while we were there. They were leaving the next day, so I decided to join them on a hiking trip up to Siffleur Falls with all our kids in tow. Let me tell you, hiking with kids is always an adventure!

It is a pretty popular hiking trail, and now I know why! It is decently accessible for many types of hikers and the trail is diverse in landscape and feeling. There are three sets of falls, but we just stuck to the first waterfall as it was a good 4km walk from the start. I wouldn’t recommend taking a stroller or wheelchair all the way to the falls however, since you would need to abandon it about 2/3 of the way there, at the bottom of a big rocky climb. I witnessed a number of strollers being left at the bottom of that hill, but to each their own.

The beginning of the hike took us down into a flat, treed/meadow-like area along a gravel path, which lead us to our first bridge leading over the North Saskatchewan River.

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Beginning of the trail

The first river crossing is actually a long suspension bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.

Suspension Bridge
First Bridge

Cordelia was awed by the powerful river moving under our feet. She would repeat “Mom, let’s go swimming!” To which I would respond with “Honey, I know you love to swim, but this river is much to strong for us to swim safely.” Of course it took some time to explain the reasoning behind this answer to our three year old.

It probably took about 5 minutes just to cross this bridge! Not because of the length, but more so due to the swaying scaring my toddler. Every time someone would run, or even walk past us, and the bridge would sway and shake, Cordelia froze on the spot. We ended up having to carry her the last half of the bridge length.

Upon exiting the suspension bridge we entered a lovely wide boardwalk trail. Signs posted explained that the boardwalk was created to save the fragile environment. One sign stated “This sensitive ecological zone has severely eroded due to the large number of visitors travelling through this area.” For this, I am grateful of the boardwalk trails existence. I hope that one day my children can return and enjoy the natural beauty of this area in a similar state that we saw on our visit.

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Boardwalk trail

The boardwalk trail ends and the trail continues with gravel, another bridge over the Siffleur River, and then gaining elevation and climbing a hill. It’s the one big climb on this trail, and really it’s not too taxing. It can be a bit slippery in places though, with all the little gravel pebbles on it. So I took my time. One of my fears is falling while I have my children strapped to my body in carriers. Falling on my own is not such a big deal to me, but I dread hurting my children. The trail becomes a bit trickier at the top of the hill, with lots of tree roots and large rocks/boulders to maneuver around. There is a really awesome tree that the kids loved swinging and climbing on, so naturally we had to take some photos.

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Finally, this highlight of this trail is the canyon carved out by the Siffleur River and the Siffleur Waterfalls. There is a viewpoint looking out over the canyon before the waterfalls viewpoint, and at the first waterfall there is also an area to walk out to the water. Caution is a must, as this water is quite powerful and many lives have been lost here. However, there are pools that form near the edge of the river and the water is very refreshing on a hot day! So, we carefully dipped our toes into a safe spot and then retreated to the trees to perch and have a snack before heading back to our vehicles.

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View at the top of the falls

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Canyon Viewpoint

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Magic of the Falls

It was a hot, 30 degree, mid-afternoon trek through dense forest during the dry season. The west African climate was as unforgiving as any we have ever experienced. Though the temperature was high,  the ocean breeze that crept up the mountain made it manageable. Finding a reprieve beneath the shade of the tall, ancient, treetops, we joined the droves of locals who were also on a journey for a watery escape. Little did we know, the shaded relief was short-lived once we began our march down the 250 step pathway to our destination. Every step, and every turn, inviting us further with more lush, vivid, vegetation to admire. As we walk further down the mountain the air begins to cool and we can faintly hear the whooshing of the falling water. Just as it begins to feel like the staired journey down the hillside will never end, we turn a corner and are awarded with the first glimpse of Boti Falls.

It is a magnificent feeling, and our anticipation for our reward drives us forward. At the bottom of the cement steps the earth turns into a soft sand, forcing us to remove our shoes to continue at a pleasant pace. We spot a fallen tree and decide it is the perfect place to perch and place all our belongings. Settling on the long fallen timber, we let out a sigh of relief. We have made it! The forest around us opens up into a magical pool, being filled with water cascading over the cliffs over 30 meters above us. The set of waterfalls are believed to be male and female, the male being the larger of the two. They are a magnificent sight, straight out of a fairy tale, with lush jungle-like flora hugging the cliff face and trees sporadically emerging from the edge between the falls. The soaring waterfalls sweep into a calm swimming hole that is home to a large, slanted, flat-faced rock fit for mermaids to escape their watery depths.

Check out the following websites for more information:

Ghana Tourism: http://www.ghana.travel/

Boti Falls Resort: http://www.botifallsgh.com/