Beauty Creek & Stanley Falls

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After reading many reviews of the Beauty Creek & Stanley Falls hike online, four of us decided it was well worth the 160 km trek from home to check it out.
 
 
Often pitched as the ‘hidden jewel of Jasper’ it promised waterfalls, lots and lots of waterfalls, and that was good enough for me.
 
 
Beyond that, we didn’t really know what we were going to get out of this one. 
 
Unlike our other hikes this year, this was the first one that none of us had been on. 
 
That, alone, made it a little more exciting. We are getting more and more adventurous as we go.
 
 

 
 

 

The directions for this hike were simply to drive south from Jasper on the Icefields Parkway for approximately 85 kms and the trailhead would be at a pullout on the east side of the highway where two culverts crossed under the road. 
 

It sounded pretty cryptic but, despite the lack of actual signage, it was relatively easy to find – the culverts are hard to miss.
 
This sign is the only marker for the hike.
The beginning of trail crosses this dyke along side the highway.
 
Seeing as how this hike was relatively short, I didn’t bring my big pack, opting instead for a smaller hydration pack that held 2 litres of water, a long sleeved shirt and a snack. 
 
I always wear long pants when hiking to protect the legs and I brought hiking poles with me but made a last minute decision to leave them at the truck … that was a poor decision. Some day I will learn that I almost always miss them out on the trail. 
 
Big thanks to Allison over at My Slice of Paradise Blog for the photo!
 
And, as always, someone else knew where we were and when we were expecting to be back. Especially important as there is no cell service on this hike.
 
The first portion of the trail is well worn and easy to read, even following the old paved highway for a short stretch. Approximately 600m down the path you take a left up into the woods. And, in case there’s any doubt, previous hikers have laid rocks out in a large arrow to point you in the right direction.
 
 
From there, it’s hard to tell if you feel or hear the falls first. I feel them.
 
 
Every time I am near waterfalls I can feel an instant transformation from the inside out. 
 
The corners of my mouth turn up, my pulse increases, I close my eyes and take a deep breath – trying to absorb the power of the falls.
 

 

We spent a lot of time on this hike stopping to appreciate what was in front of us, so don’t let the short distance fool you into thinking it won’t take very long.
 
This is the first falls you feel as you come up over the first ridge. 
 
In my opinion, this canyon/falls system has Maligne Canyon beat, hands down.
 
In a matter of 1.7 kms you are treated to countless falls – well, I could have counted, but I lost track. Some pound down between narrow limestone canyon walls …
 
 
 
… and others widen out and allow you access right down to the creek where you can stand and turn your face to the mist. 
 
 
 
All have enough power to make you stop and say, “Wow.”
 
 
 
 
 
It didn’t fail, at any given moment along this trail 
at least one of us was acting like a giddy child …
 
Jacqueline, over at Jacqueline Rose Blog nailed this photo for me. Thanks!
 
 
 … running for a particular view or exploring a new vantage point.
 
Look closely on the right ridge here
and you’ll see Chris enjoying the view.
 
 
The trail is worn enough to follow easily until Stanley Falls. 
It is a fairly sustained uphill climb and there are roots in abundance as well as the occasional downed tree to negotiate, so be prepared.
 
 
 
Knowing when you’ve made it to Stanley Falls, however, is not easy. In fact, we continued on past it and at the 500m point past when our GPS said we should be there we felt uncomfortable enough with the extremely rugged trail to turn back, thinking we had not made it.
 
After re-reading other accounts of the trail we realized the last set of falls we saw was actually Stanley Falls and that a bigger, more impressive set of falls coming straight out of the headway are another 2 km of ‘goat trail’ further along.
 
Stanley Falls
 
If you find yourself at a point where the river widens, where you are no longer following a canyon, you are past Stanley Falls, they were that last set of narrow falls that plummeted 45 feet down into a pool. 
 
And the fact that we thought there might be bigger and better just a little further along tells you just how we’d been conditioned by this trail, it had taught us that just when we thought it was as awesome as it was going to get, we were proved wrong 
 
 
… then again, maybe it was just the company I was keeping that made this particular hike so awesome.
 

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