Visiting Cataract Creek will take you to some of the most southern areas of Kananaskis Country, just west of Longview and in the Highwood region — a 140 km drive from Northwest Calgary. The area is reminicent of Junction Creek area hikes, but has it’s own uniqueness as well. Cataract Creek is a feeder source for the Highwood River, which runs parallel to Hwy 541. The falls along Cataract Creek are smaller than others in Kananaskis, but feature many interesting rockwalls that surround the creek. Magnificent clear pools can be found up and down the creek, allowing for great exploration spots for the adventurous swimmer. The Cataract Creek area can be very hot and dry, perhaps an incentive for braving the cold glacier-fed water.
Access to the creek is obtained at north or southmost part of Cataract Creek. From the North, the trail is accessed at the Sentinel Day use area. Directly across the Highwood River from the Trails through Time sign lies the trailhead. The trail is well trodden from equestrian users and has many off-trails that follow close to the river. At just over 4 kilometres, you’ll reach the end of the trail and have seen most of waterfalls from the north access. It is possible to rockhop further south, however this requires a significant amount of time and energy. South access to the creek is via the Forestry Trunk road 940 and starts at the Cataract Creek campground, behind campsite 27. (I have not accessed the trail from this location, but have read that this access will lead to additional falls also at 4km from the south.
Cataract Creek is an excellent getaway from the busier hiking areas of Kananaskis and Banff National park. Because it is located in the far south, you’ll likely enjoy the hike in relative solitude. To access the area, head to Highway 541 near Longview, south of Black Diamond. The access to the trail is approximately 5-10 minutes from the K-country sign.