Grande Cache Hikes

Fearing the arrival of inclement weather, Zosia Zgolak and I decided to tour some of the less-committing outdoor attractions in the vicinity of Grande Cache, Alberta on 30 December 2020.  We first visited Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) which features some precipitous cliffs towering over Smoky River.  From there, we next hiked about 3.5 kilometres (one-way) into Willmore Wilderness Park to visit spectacular Eaton Falls.  Upon returning to the PRA, we walked a short distance into forest to visit Crack of Doom, a large erratic which has split in two.  Leaving the PRA, we then drove a little further north on the main highway and hiked to Twin Falls located at the foot of Mount Hamell.  Our final stop of the day was a visit to Grande Cache Lake which is a popular ice fishing spot.  As it turned out, the bad weather never really materialized, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the various short hikes that we did on this day.
That's a long way down!

Precipitous cliffs above Smoky River are the main attraction at Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Not nervous at all!

Railings keep visitors safe above the cliffs.

This was my first time visiting this park.

Zosia enters Willmore Wilderness Park en route to Eaton Falls.

Not quite enough snow for skiing...

Except for a few hills near the beginning, the hike along the approach trail to Eaton Falls is generally pleasant.

The sign is half eaten!

Zosia reaches the signed turnoff to Eaton Falls.

Impressive walls here. Eaton Falls are somewhat hidden in this canyon.
Definitely looks good for ice climbing! Eaton Falls is mostly frozen on this day.
There is still water flowing underneath the ice.

Zosia and Sonny pose at the bottom of Eaton Falls.

Go this way?

At Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area, the short Split Rock Trail begins at the equestrian campground.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Look, I fit!

Split Rock is also known as the Crack of Doom.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Good place to practice stemming!

Grande Cache's renowned Canadian Death Race runs through the Crack of Doom.! The Twin Falls trailhead sign appears to be often used for target practice.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Not the best viewpoint. Twin Falls derives its name from the two tiers of the waterfall.
Looks like another nice ice climb. After climbing a steep trail, Sonny gets up close to the upper falls.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Reminds me of the speleothems found in caves. It is Zosia's turn to take a closer look at the upper falls.
Simply beautiful. Water is still dripping all over the upper falls.
Tiny the wine...make me happy...make me feel fine! Zosia and Sonny relax in some green Adirondack chairs in front of Grande Cache Lake.  Ice fishing is apparently quite popular here in winter.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

The wind is blowing from the southwest. Zosia pretends that she is a weather vane on the frozen surface of Grande Cache Lake.
Holy mackerel! Zosia is amused by this decorated ice fishing hut.