Crowsnest Pass Waterfalls Tour

On 16 October 2021, Zosia Zgolak and I invited by mother, Grace Bou, to join us for a tour of several waterfalls in the Crowsnest Pass region of southwest Alberta.  My mother originally wanted to visit Lake Louise in Banff National Park, but given the snowy conditions and cloudy weather there, I convinced her to get out of her comfort zone and try something different.  The weather forecast promised sunny skies in the Crowsnest Pass area, and although there would also be accompanying strong winds, I figured that we would be mostly sheltered while visiting the waterfalls.

Our first stop would be Allison Creek Falls located near Chinook Provincial Recreation Area (access via Allison Creek Road 2.7 kilometres north of Highway 3).  There are two different ways to reach the start of the trail to the falls.  One is to park at the day use area before the bridged entrance to the nearby campground (closed for the season).  From the T-intersection on the west side of the bridge, the right-hand road (not open to public motorized vehicles) climbs gradually for 1.2 kilometres to an unsigned trailhead on the right (there is an unrelated snowshoe sign nearby).  We instead drove into the campground along the left-hand road and parked in a pullout before a locked gate at the entrance to Loop C.  Continuing on foot past the gate, Grace, Zosia and I descended a big hill to the shore of Chinook Lake.  We then followed the shoreline trail in a counter-clockwise direction before crossing a dam at the lake's outlet.  Beyond the dam, we turned right to follow the same road described in the first access and walked another 300 metres to reach the same trailhead.

Following a trail into forest, we soon turned north to follow the west bank of Allison Creek.  There are a couple of eroded sections that can be challenging to traverse especially if conditions are wet.  We tried to avoid one of these eroded sections by crossing over to the east bank on slippery logs, but getting back to the west bank further upstream proved too problematic.  Out of curiosity, I was able to continue upstream along the east bank and see the waterfall from a distance, but steep embankments prevented me from getting closer for a better view.  In the end, we retreated back across the logs and muddled our way through the eroded section with some difficulty.  Upon reaching Allison Creek Falls, we stopped for an extended lunch break before exiting the way we came.  Fortunately, we had no mishaps on the hike out, and the only disheartening aspect of the return was having to climb up the big hill to get back to our car.

Much better than Lake Louise, no?

Strong winds blow across Chinook Lake.  At left is Mount Tecumseh.

Looks easy enough so far!

Grace and Zosia walk along the west bank of Allison Creek.

Keeping my mom on her toes!

This eroded section of trail is relatively easy to traverse.

While carrying my mom's iPad even!

Hoping to avoid another eroded section of trail, Zosia carefully crosses to the east bank of Allison Creek on some slippery logs.


Unable to get closer to the waterfalls along the east bank, Sonny leads Grace back across the logs to the west bank.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

My 84-year old mom is gonna scramble up this??

Grace waits while Zosia scrambles up a crumbling embankment in order to continue upstream.

Tough lighting for capturing the falls!

Sonny, Grace and Zosia arrive at Allison Creek Falls which is mostly hidden in shadow to the right.

My mom brought enough food to feed an army!

Grace and Zosia stop to eat lunch near Allison Creek Falls.  In the background is Crowsnest Mountain.

It must be super windy up there today...

Crowsnest Mountain rises above the trees around Chinook Lake.

For our next stop, we attempted to hike to the base of Star Creek Falls just outside the town of Coleman.  Zosia and I had previously seen this waterfall from above during our hike of Star Creek Hill, and I thought that reaching the bottom would be fairly straightforward.  Unfortunately, getting by a gorge that guards the base of the waterfall requires hands-on scrambling which I deemed to be too challenging for my mother, and we promptly abandoned our attempt.
Yep, it's windy here too!

Sonny begins hiking to Star Creek Falls.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

No problem, right? The approach to Star Creek falls is initially easy.
We'll be back... Sonny investigates the feasibility of continuing further into a gorge guarding the base of Star Creek Falls.  Deeming the gorge too challenging for his mother, Sonny would ultimately turn around here.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

We next drove to Flumerfelt Park (access from 76 Street in Coleman) and hiked the easy Miner's Trail to Rainbow Falls.  This popular trail starts at the north end of the park and climbs gently along the east bank of Nez Perce Creek for a little more than a kilometre before reaching the modest waterfall.  After all the "excitement" of the previous stops, this short and stress-free walk was more to my mother's liking.  While it is possible to extend this hike to explore some old mining sites, we opted to simply visit the waterfall and turn around.
Suitable for senior citizens, dogs, and kids! Zosia and Grace hike up Miner's Trail en route to Rainbow Falls.
The gate wouldn't be that hard to walk around, so why bother? Zosia and Grace pass through a curious gate along the trail.
Hmmm...I guess I'm not really showcasing these waterfalls very well! Zosia, Grace and Sonny reach Rainbow Falls which appears smaller here because of the odd perspective.
Looks refreshing! Rainbow Falls is about four to five metres high.
Oink, oink! The "Biggest Piggy Bank in the World" is apparently located in Flumerfelt Park.  The park is named after the founder of the town of Coleman.
Our last stop of the day was at Lundbreck Falls east of Crowsnest Pass.  In retrospect, we probably should have come here first thing in the morning since the lighting is best at that time for viewing this spectacular waterfall.  A brisk wind made it too uncomfortable to linger, and we only stayed long enough to snap a few token photographs before heading home.
I may try this tour again in the future...but in reverse! Afternoon lighting is not ideal for photographing Lundbreck Falls.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak