When we rolled into the Icefields Center after an epic drive along the Icefields Parkway, we were a bit wary. Yes, the scenery was incredible. But, one step inside of the Icefields Center and we had been transported from an adventurer’s paradise outside, to pure tourist chaos inside.
We instantly had flashbacks to Niagara Falls. On one hand, the natural beauty was breathtaking, on the other the thousands (no exaggeration) of people crowded into a small space to see it was not.
It didn’t feel right. There had to more to the Icefields than tour buses, and gift shop trinkets. We had seen several trailhead signs on our way into the Icefields Center, but with only two days at the Icefields and one of them taken up with a trip out onto the Ice we wanted to make sure we chose the best trail possible- and that’s when we learned about Beauty Creek.
Details About Hiking Beauty Creek
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of some incredible experience and started to wonder why the heck when you were tirelessly researching an area, it never popped up anywhere? That’s exactly the case with our hike along Beauty Creek, in the Columbia Icefields.
We’ll admit that we’re not always the best pre-planners, we love the unexpected joys that come with not planning out every detail but we did find ourselves wondering why in this world of unlimited access to information no one was screaming at the rooftops about what an incredible hike Beauty Creek is; Although in a lot of ways we should probably be grateful for that- after all if they had, we wouldn’t have had this amazing place all to ourselves.
The official name of the hike is, “Beauty Creek To Stanley Falls”, the trail begins at the base of the creek and slowly but surely you wind your way up through a magical forest landscape, fringed by swirling cascading water, and no less than 6 waterfalls, all leading up to one heart-stopping beautiful moment when you reach the pinnacle at Stanley Falls
Getting To Beauty Creek Trailhead
Getting to the trailhead is easily accessible. From the Icefields Center turn north onto the Icefields Parkway, drive a short ways down the road and look for a turn off on the right, the trailhead starts from the parking lot. Don’t let the first quarter-mile deter you, as soon as you reach the creek bed and hear the sounds of running water, this is where the good stuff starts!
- Distance: Kilometers (2.1 Miles)
- Elevation Gained: Meters (426 Feet)
- Average Time To Hike: 1.5 -2.5 Hours
- Difficulty Rating: Easy, Out & Back Trail
Gear We Would Suggest Bringing Along On This Hike
Backpack- A good sturdy backpack is always a good thing! We have several favorites you can check them out here:
- Dakine Camera Backpack-https://venturewild.net/product/cannon-70d/
- Katie’s Favorite Hiking Pack- https://bit.ly/2ItZjf1
- The Cooler Backpack (perfect for backcountry picnics)- https://amzn.to/3cHaRcN
Bear Bell- A bear bell is always a good idea, when in bear country. However, keep in mind nothing is a better bear deterrent than your own voice, so jingle that bell and sing a song to let your furry forest friends know you’re around and to keep any unintended surprises from happening!
Amazon sells a two-pack at a steal: https://amzn.to/331VXcx
Bear Spray- This is an optional item, full disclosure we did not carry bear spray on this hike, although we have carried it on many others, and never had an occasion to use it. However, we always say its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
You can purchase bear spray at almost any outdoor store or buy it directly from Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2vFP1px
Other Hikes Close To The Columbia Icefields Center
Toe Of The Athabascan Glacier Trail
If you caught our video on driving the Icefields Parkway than you’ve already seen this hike. In our humble opinion, if there is only one hike you take while visiting the Icefields this should be it. As much as we loved Beauty Creek, if you want to experience what the Icefields are all about you have to walk around the toe trail.
Pro tip- If you’re staying overnight in the Icefields Center Parking Lot, save this hike for later in the afternoon/ early evening (3-5pm) the tour busses leave by that time, and the whole place clears out.
- Distance: 1.4 Kilometers
- Elevation Gained: 60 Meters
- Average Time To Hike: 1-1.5 Hours
- Difficulty Rating: Easy
The Toe trail is located directly across the street from the Icefields Discovery Center.
Wilcox Pass Trail
Just a short 3 kilometers south of the Icefields Center, this trail was described to us as being the perfect day hike for someone looking to really get out and immerse themselves in the raw and rugged nature of the Columbia Icefields.
The ranger we spoke with at the Icefields Center said that this was by far his favorite trail in the area. The view from the top of the pass opens up to a straight-on view of the Athabascan Glacier. We had planned on taking this trail, but due to the mix of snow and rain, we woke up to combined with a thick fog that blocked out the view of the mountains we passed.
If you end up taking this trail, drop us a comment and let us know how it went! We want to hear all about it!
- Distance: 9.8 Kilometers
- Elevation Gained: 409 Meters
- Average Time To Hike: 3-4 Hours
- Difficulty Rating: Strenuous
We knew we would be in awe of the Icefields Parkway, but we certainly didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with it. The Columbia Icefields is a place we will never forget, and somewhere we will dream about going back to forever. Until that day comes, we want to hear about your experiences! Have you been to the Icefields? Are you jonesing to go? Let us know!