There’s something magical about seeing a deep craggy canyon from the ground up and the Star Creek Falls ice walk lets you do that and much more. It’s a chance to see the power of erosion from an entirely new angle. You technically have to walk on water to get the view – which in summer, spring or fall is impossible. That’s what makes winter so special. When the creek is frozen, you can make your way carefully along the ice taking in the geology and the incredible ice formations that showcase nature’s artistry.
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Where is Star Creek Falls?
Star Creek Falls ice walk is a hike in the Crowsnest Pass region of the Canadian Rockies. The trailhead is near the Town of Coleman. It’s marked in Google Maps, so you can plug it into your phone GPS. From the west entrance of Coleman, turn right on 70th Street. Turn right again on 17th Avenue. Follow the road until it becomes Willow Drive and drive to 54th Street. In winter, you will park at the unplowed end of 54th street and hike from there.
Related: If you love waterfall hikes, check out our post about another Alberta waterfall, Crescent Falls Hike – Family Fun in Summer and Winter.
Star Creek Falls Ice Walk – Guided or on Your Own?
The Star Creek Falls ice walk is a short 1.8 km (1.1 mile) ice walk. You can do it on your own, but there are some benefits to doing it on a guided tour. We did this hike on a guided tour with Uplift Adventures. Our guide Heather Davis, provided heavy duty ice cleats and guided us along the safest route on the frozen river. She also taught us all about the science of ice as we walked through the canyon. An environmental scientist, Davis knows a great deal about science and finds fun ways to share that knowledge with her guests. The trail to the falls is not well marked, so it is nice to have a guide to show you the way. If you go on your own, wear heavy duty ice cleats, take hiking poles and be very careful where you walk on the frozen creek.
Hiking in Winter
In winter, we hiked what is known as the upstream route for the Star Creek Falls hike. We parked at the end of 57th street and walked up the hill. At the top of the hill, we turned left and made our way down towards the creek. At the creek we turned right again and hiked along the shoreline towards the frozen waterfall. When we came to the wooden bridge, we did not cross over. We hiked along the side of the creek as far as we could go. When the banks became too narrow, we hiked along the frozen creek until we came to the base of the frozen waterfall. We then returned the way we had come. You have to be careful when hiking along the creek. There are places where the ice is unstable. Go slowly and carefully.
Geology and Frozen Ice
The geology becomes more interesting as you get closer to the waterfall. As the canyon gets deeper, you’ll notice fascinating rock and ice formations. Ice seems to flow right out of the rocks in some places. This combination of fascinating rock and ice formations are what makes the Star Creek Falls ice walk special.
Hiking in Summer
In summer, the preferred hiking route is the Star Creek Falls Loop. This route takes you on a trail above the falls. It begins the same way as the upstream route, but when you come to the bridge, you cross over it and hike on the trail on the other side of the creek. Turn right when you come to intersections in the trail. You’ll eventually come to a place overlooking the falls. This vantage point is often slippery, but particularly so in winter. That’s part of the reason the upstream route is better in winter. Keep going turning right at every intersection of the trail and you’ll loop back to where you began. The loop hike is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) long.
What to Bring in Winter – Star Creek Falls Ice Walk
Ice cleats are essential and hiking poles are helpful on this winter hike. These are provided if you are hiking with a guide. Dress in layers and bring water and snacks. A thermos with a warm drink in it can be particularly nice. Bear spray is a useful item in every season – though you are far less likely to encounter a bear during the winter months.
Related: Read our post, Microspikes for Hiking Product Review.
Where to Stay in Crowsnest Pass
There are several nice hotels in the Crowsnest Pass. We stayed at the Kanata by BCMInns in Blairmore. The hotel is clean, comfortable and fairly new. We found the staff pleasant and helpful. There is a coffee/tea/hot chocolate station in the lobby and normally breakfast is included with a stay.
Related: If you enjoy hiking, read our post 10 Amazing Jasper Hikes.