Tucked away in Banff National Park, the trail to Silverton Falls is one that is filled with tranquility and a surprising peace along a short hike to a pretty waterfall. I suppose one can attribute these characteristics to the trail not being as publicized and known as say the Johnston Canyon. The lack of overcrowding makes the trip to Silverton Falls the perfect short day getaway out of the city.
The trail may be short but the views of the falls are surprisingly rewarding. No, Silverton Falls may not be as thunderous as the Upper Falls of Johnston's Canyon but they are still rather tall and grand especially for the short trek in.
The falls are found in the shadow of Castle Mountain a little east of Castle Junction and nearby Johnston's Canyon. Work in the area from Castle Junction to Banff started in 1910. The construction was dedicated to the Auto Route of the Great Divide project. The project was designed to build a highway across the Rocky Mountains. The construction was interrupted during World War I but resumed shortly after and wrapped up between the years of 1920 and 1922. During those years, the road from Calgary to Banff was extended to join the Windermere Highway through the road between Castle Junction and Banff.
During WWI, Castle Junction was home to the notoriously known Castle Mountain Internment Camp. The internment camp was the largest internment camp found in the Canadian Rockies and could house a massive amount of prisoners at one time. In found records, it was recorded that 660 prisoners (enemy aliens) were kept at the facility on July 13, 1915. In the winter time, the prisoners were moved to military barracks held outside of Banff (at the original site of the Banff Hot Springs) because of the inadequacy of the tents that they were housed in at the Castle Junction location. The camp was closed in the summer of 1917 when the internees were released into various industries due to the shortage of labour at the time.
When Castle Mountain was renamed to Mount Eisenhower for several years from 1946 to the early 70's, Castle Junction was consequently renamed to Eisenhower Junction. Mount Eisenhower was named in honour of general Dwight D. Eisenhower who served the army during World War II.
In the 19th century, the small settlement of Silver City was founded at the base of Castle Mountain by several prospectors scouring the area for gold and other precious metals. Today, the remains of Silver City remain at the base of Castle Mountain.
Silverton Falls Trip Log
The official trailhead for Rockbound Lake is on the north side of the parking lot. Continue on this trail and you will be greeted with a sign that says Silverton Falls is only 700 meters away. I would assume this is to the base of the falls that are difficult to see as our GPS came out to about 1.1km for this walk.
As you continue on the well compacted trail, we hung a right on the first fork on the road. If you continue straight you will come across another fork with a sign for Silverton Falls, taking the first fork allows you to follow the trail along the creek instead to take in a bit more nature.
Taking the first fork, the trail narrows a little and becomes a bit more rooted. You can hear the sounds of Silverton Creek as you near it. When you approach the bridge, there is another trail to your immediate left that follows the creeks banks. Follow this trail.
The trail turns from rooted to rocky as you follow Silverton Creek. This only continues for a little bit as you merge up to the trail that you would have ended up if you made a right at the second fork with the sign.
As you make your way along the creek you come across a steep hill. The trail now makes a ninety degree turn to the left and starts traversing up the hill side.
There is a single switchback that you will come across before the trail heads back east. The trail narrows briefly as you pass through a clearing. There is evidence of past sliding from raining making its way down the mountain side.
The trail continues to climb steadily as you close in on Silverton Falls. At the time of writing, it was June 30th, about a week after the massive flooding we experienced in the mountains and southern Alberta. One large and two small trees have fallen over and smack dab right over the entire trail right at the falls. Since this obstacle was not here prior, with the amount of fallen over trees we've seen everywhere, it is possible that this was due to the rain we experienced.
The tree appeared to be rather stuck in place; we carefully made our way through it. If this tree hasn't been cut down by your visit, please do take caution as there really is no safety holding this tree back, just friction and other trees in its way.
Once you make it through the tree, the great sights of the cascading Silverton Falls is before you. The total height of Silverton Falls, including its cascades, surpasses that of the neighboring Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon. While the volume that passes through it is less, it is still a great sight to see. As we passed Johnston Canyon and there were line ups of vehicles stretching at least 100 meters from the parking lot on both sides of the highway. At Silverton Falls we came across two people. A short two meter downclimb allows you to get a closer look at the falls.
Return is the same way back.
GPS Plotted Route
The route itself is rather straight forward so there is not much to add for the GPS. If you get turned around, follow the creek north to reach the falls and south to find your vehicle.
While the graph does appear to make the trail look steep, you are only gaining 94 meters over a kilometer. It is a great hike to do at the end of the day if you are finished up and heading home early, almost like dessert!.
Click here to download the GPS route in GPX format. You may have to right click and select "Save Link As" if your browser does not download it automatically. Be sure to save it as a .gpx file.
What were your experiences hiking Silverton Falls?
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