Troll Falls is located next to Kananaskis village, a resort community. What is great about this relatively short hike is how close it is to Calgary; at least in comparison to other waterfalls such as Johnston Canyon and Silverton Falls found in Banff National Park. Troll Falls is a great, short family adventure. After a short walk through a forest you're greeted to a mystical mossy creek that leads you up to the nice waterfall surrounded by small cliffs. It is also pretty short at roughly 1.5km so it is the perfect hike to take the kids along for the adventure.
The trail is easy to find. You can follow the power lines or head into the forest where the trailhead is which eventually follows Marmot Creek. When you reach Troll Falls you see that they lie within a rock enclave in the shape of a half moon. It is a fairly popular trail especially being next to Kananaskis Village.
Kananaskis is a popular area for a diverse range of activities from skiing to scrambling predominantly because of Kananaskis beautiful and rugged topography. For many, Kananaskis is right in their backyards and hundreds if not thousands of people visit the area each weekend. Prior to European settlement, the Stoney peoples inhabited the Kananaskis Valley and lived off the nature and the bighorn sheep and deer that came through.
As the gold rush came through in BC, legends such as the Lost Lemon Mine in Kananaskis came arose where tales of discover, murder and madness were told. The legend focuses on 2 gold mining prospectors, Lemon and Blackjack. As the story goes, Lemon and Blackjack hit a huge gold seam in 1870 within the mountains. Unfortunately greed came over Lemon and after a violent argument he split Blackjack's head with an axe. The gold was never mined or discovered.
Gold mining never did hit it big in the area with the lack of gold, but the huge amass of coal discovered in the Rocky Mountains excited those as far away as the very prestigious in Europe. From 1903 to 1909, geological surveys were conducted in the Ribbon Creek area by renowned geologist Donald Bogart Dowling, who drew the first boundaries of Jasper National Park. Dowley's findings of the mass quantities of coal stratas, piqued the interest of German entrepreneur Martin Cohn. He arrived in 1906 as a representative from the German Development Company. The company was created specifically to investigate western Canada's natural resources. The company staked four coals fields, one in southern Kananaskis after hearing Cohn's reports on the financial potential in the Ribbon Creek area. The Kananaskis field was however left undeveloped for four years as focus was placed on the coal fields further northwest of Kananaskis. Martin Cohn ended up changing his last name to Nordegg, the town that was developed to service the northern coal fields. However because he was German, his employment and innovation in the coal mining industry were short lived as the First World War happened.
It wasn't until the 1940's that the Kananaskis coal field was developed to capitalize on the anthracite coal market out in the East in Ontario by Brazeau Collieries An underground mine and strip mine on Mount Allan were finally opened by 1948 and Kovach, a small town was built for the 150 miners and their families. This little hamlet was named after the district ranger Joe Kovach. Today, there are still remnants found of Kovach on the Ribbon Creek trail in Kananaskis. The last bit of coal was mined in 1952, two months after the Nordegg mine began operations again after being closed for 18 months due to a devastating fire.
Troll Falls cascades into Marmot Creek and if you continue to follow Marmot Creek up, you come across 2 more beautiful and slightly larger waterfalls.
Troll Falls and the Secret Waterfalls Trip Log
From the parking lot, you will want to head towards the huge open area under the power lines, there is a path that leads up to a sign. Hikers should go left into the forest while the horses head under the power line.
Shortly after you gain a little bit of elevation (do mean little) and you come to a junction, follow the well parked trail to the right. The trail, which is wide enough to be a road, is nice and compact throughout.
At least you come to a small clearing with one last sign pointing you to go straight ahead. For the first time on this hike the trail actually narrows a bit and you actually walk through the forest and along the creek that leads you to Troll Falls.
Once you make your way through the forest you end up at a dead end in the canyon with a waterfall at the end. The waterfall is not the only thing interesting about this location, as you look up the rock appears to have been almost ripped out of the wall. On the left hand side as you approach the falls, there are a few large holes in the cliff walls that really make you think trolls could of lived here once upon a time, who knows.
Return the same way. Or, if you are looking to go further, you can continue on to explore the hidden waterfalls that feed Troll Falls.
You will want to follow the cliff with the large holes in it as it leads you away from Troll Falls. Very shortly you will see a steep dirt path leading to the top of the cliff. It is the steepest part of the entire adventure and only a few meters, so easily overcome.
There are a few paths you can spot at the top but you want to hang a right, follow the cliff and head back towards Troll Falls. The forest cover is pretty thick so you will be constantly pushing branches out of the way.
As you continue on, you catch a glimpse of the next waterfall. The viewpoint from here is not that great, nor recommended. The path is pretty steep and leads directly to a straight cliff directly into the canyon below. The footing is just grassy blobs of soil planted on top of the rock and not very reassuring, you will get a much better view of this waterfall from the other side on your way back.
Depending on the amount of rainfall and the time of year ... as you reach towards the point you cross over Marmot Creek the area can be pretty wet. There is no distinctive path at this point so you just want to make sure your following the creek.
At this point you want to find a place to cross over, the first time we went there was a few logs thrown across the creek that made a convenient crossing point. The second, the logs were there but pushed down stream a bit, we put them back in place and hopped over. If the logs are not there then you can either attempt to jump across, or if you don't mind getting wet, walk across.
Once you're across, the path becomes apparent again. Follow the creek back towards Troll Falls to finish the loop. The way back contains all the good viewpoints of the falls.
As you make your way along the path, you can catch a glimpse and hear the waterfall on the right hand side. This one is the furthest away from Troll Falls. The path is a little distant from the waterfall and does not go right beside it. As the path starts to descend, there is a path to the right. If you take it will take you directly to the hidden waterfall. You can walk directly up to it and even behind it!
When you get back on the trail, shortly after there is another waterfall, you can see this one a bit from the trail. There is a ledge about a meter and half tall, if you descend it there is a reasonably sized platform that gives you an upfront view of the waterfall. This is the one that you saw originally from the trail with the non-recommended view down the slippery path to the cliff.
GPS Plotted Route
The three flags on the above GPS picture are the locations of the three falls. The hidden falls are relatively close to each other while Troll Falls is the first one you see on the trail and shown as the furthest most blue flag on the picture.
While the graph looks a little intense, the height gained from the lowest point to the highest is only 80 meters.
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 Troll Falls and the Secret Waterfalls?
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