If you’re driving the Icefields Parkway and you’re looking for a short, easy hike try the gorgeous Beauty Creek hike to Stanley Falls. In an hour you will be transported to another world full of canyons and waterfalls. It’s family-friendly (though not stroller-friendly), as long as you keep the kids away from the edge. Round-trip it’s about 4 kilometres return and the total elevation gain is just 40 metres.
The Beauty Creek hike is an excellent shoulder season hike as well. But in summer it really shines with the sheer number of waterfalls you encounter. There are several places where you can get close enough to dip your feet in the water and cool off. It’s the perfect way to break up the drive on the Icefields Parkway – and not many people know about it, so it’s not busy.
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Beauty Creek hike summary
Distance: 3.6 km (2.2 miles) round trip
Elevation gain: 40 m or 131 feet
Difficulty: Easy and family-friendly but keep a close eye on kids around any dropoffs.
Time needed: 60 – 90 minutes
Best time to hike: May to September
- The Beauty Creek hike is in Jasper National Park so you will need a national park pass. A Discovery Pass is the best choice if you’re planning to spend more than five days in any of Canada’s national parks or national historic sites over the course of a year.
- Dogs are permitted on a leash.
- The map for the hike is Gem Trek Columbia Icefield and Sunwapta Peak 83C.
- Practice leave nor trace principles – packing out whatever you pack in.
- You are in bear country so be sure to pack quick-to-access bear spray. I also would suggest carrying bear spray in a bear spray holster.
- Even though it’s a short hike, carry the hiking essentials.
Beauty Creek trailhead location
The trailhead for Beauty Creek is located on the east side of Highway 93, 15.5 km north of the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. If you get to the Beauty Creek Hostel, you’ve gone too far. From the hostel, it’s two kilometres south. There’s a small hiker sign and room for several cars to park.
Beauty Creek hike description (plus Stanley Falls)
The hike starts off arrow straight and flat, paralleling the highway for 0.6 km to Beauty Creek. Turn left as the trail moves up into the woods and follows Beauty Creek’s north side. Climb steadily near the edge of the canyon. This is where you need to watch kids closely! Look for several opportunities along the hike where you can descend to the creek.
On route to Stanley Falls you’ll pass several small waterfalls. Stanley Falls is by far the largest of the falls you’ll see. Don’t turn back at Stanley Falls if you’ve got time as the area above it is very beautiful with flat rocky sections that are perfect for lazing on and contemplating the state of the universe.
Adventurous hikers can keep exploring after the trail dies out but you better have a good map to do that. Everyone else can retrace their footsteps back to the Beauty Creek trailhead.
For more information about hiking trails visit the Jasper National Park website.
Where to stay in Jasper
If you’re heading for Jasper, you can certainly camp along the Icefields Parkway.
Recommended reading: Everything You Need to Know About Camping on the Icefields Parkway
If you want a roof over your head consider one of the following lodges and resorts.
If you want to be south of Jasper, consider Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge.
For a splurge and a beautiful location, check out Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Pyramid Lake Resort, just a short drive out of town would be another solid choice – and ideal in summer.
Further reading related to the Icefields Parkway
- Sunset Pass & Sunset Lookout Hike – Icefields Parkway
- Icefields Parkway – 19 Unmissable Stops
- The Parker Ridge Hike on the Icefields Parkway
- What You Can Do on a Stop at the Columbia Icefield
Interested in hiking in the Jasper area?
- Bald Hills Trail Hike, Jasper National Park
- Valley of the Five Lakes Hike, Jasper
- Sulphur Skyline Trail Hike, Jasper National Park
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