Troll Falls is located next to Kananaskis village, a resort community. What is great about this relatively short snowshoe trail 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 even in the wintertime. It is so popular in fact that the winter trail may be compacted enough that you do not need snowshoes.
With the forest covered in a blanket of snow, the hike to Troll Falls can easily be detoured as you stomp around playing in the snow. After a short walk through a forest you're greeted by the frozen Marmot creek that leads you up to the frozen waterfall. Surround by small cliffs, Troll Falls lies in a rock enclave that is shaped like a half moon. The area is surrounded by ice and water and sometimes you can get lucky and have a mini icy hill where kids can slide down on ... or adults such as ourselves!
Kananaskis is a popular playground all year round, maybe even more so in the winter than the summer time! With kilometres of trails surrounding the area, a popular ski resort, Nakiska, many campgrounds and even a small resort, Kananaskis is the closest place for winter adventures for the family. 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.
Troll Falls Trip Log
Once parked the trailhead is on the north end of the parking lot. Just past a low gate you will see a path heading into the forest on the left hand side.
Shortly after you enter the forest the trail starts to head upwards before leveling off. While it does go up hill, the total elevation gain is negligible. When you approach a fork in the road, there will be a sign in the center. Follow the Troll Falls arrow and follow the path to the right.
After a little bit more snowshoeing you come across another sign. This one is more of a map but in winter time there is a small trail that snowshoers have followed to the left. Be sure to stay on the larger path and follow it along to the right again.
In the last stretch the forest thins out a little bit as you approach the last sign. There will be a small sign suggesting to go straight past it onto a smaller narrow trail through thickening forest. Following this trail leads you straight to Troll Falls.
When you reach the waterfall there are actually even more places to sit down and have a break then in summer time. This is due to the river being covered in a big blanket of snow that everyone has compacted down pretty well.
You can return the same way or go adventurous and find a creative way back. Since the was about a meter of heavy snow as a base we decided to just wander back straight East to the powerlines. From here we just ploded beside the trail all the way back to the car. Some good ol' trail breaking exercise. Angelica also got the great idea of creating "Jack"; the 4 foot grinning snowman.
GPS Plotted Route
It looks as though we lost track of satellites while near the falls. But you can see on the way back the trail does lose more elevation under the power lines then if you continue back the same way you came in.
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 snowshoeing Troll Falls?
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