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.
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 Beauty Creek 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.