Fossil Falls

DSC02418DSC02414DSC02417DSC02406DSC02397With a height of almost 500 meters, Fossil Falls are nothing short of spectacular.  These falls will impress anyone who dares to reach them, whether as a pit-stop for a backcountry trip or a destination for the determined dayhiker.  The falls add scenery to a substantial rockface, which guards the entrance to the Aster Lake plateau.  The falls are so large, they are visible from the trailhead, as well as from Opal Falls (across the valley to the east).  Acheiving a good view of Fossil Falls is a challenging undertaking.  Reaching the falls from the Upper Lake trailhead could take 3-5 hours one way depending on your hiking level. 

First, you must hike to the western most shoreline of the Upper Kananaskis Lake (taking the northern or southern route is your choice).  While hiking to the west part of the lake, be watchful for the turn-off that heads toward Hidden Lake.  There will be a sign marking a continuation of the lakes trail, but go opposite to the sign and head southwest toward the lake.  From here on in, you must be comfortable hiking on trails that are not maintained or marked.  There are multiple trails in some areas near Hidden Lake, but if you keep the lake in relative sight, you know you’re on the right path.  Rounding Hidden lake is the hardest part of the trip.  High water levels have made it necessary to take a forest trail.  However, there are many fallen trees in this area — making it a lengthly inclined steeple chase type hike for this section. This part of the trail took me half an hour at a brisk pace.  After rounding Hidden Lake, the trail is very steep and reaches a relative plateau before the falls.  For a good view, stay high on the scree.  It’s difficult, but may allow you to get some good pictures.  I have posted a rough sketch of the side trail to Fossil Falls (my GPS wasn’t working the day I visited there) on this map .  (On my map, the trail follows from the northern approach instead of the southern, but both are possible.)

To get to the Upper Kananaskis Trailhead, proceed south on Hwy 40 from the Transcanada. Enter Peter Lougheed park and take the main turnoff towards the information centre. Proceed to the end of the road and follow the signs to the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. Go to the Upper Lake parking lot and proceed along the north or southern shore of the lake. Each will take you to the turnoff to Hidden Lake.

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