Totally Golden: Winter wonderland Wapta Falls hike

In the winter time, sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to get outside and get active.

On top of that, what is there to do if you’re not into extreme sports?

There are a handful of options that are easy to access, and one of them includes a winter hike to Wapta Falls.

At this time of year, the road to the parking lot is closed, and parking is only available off the side of the highway.

It’s about a 35 minute drive to the parking lot. From there, we put on our snow pants and winter clothes, getting ready for a relatively unknown distance. Online, we read that it is a two-kilometre hike to the parking lot, and from there it is another 2.5 kilometres to the falls. All said and done, I would say it is about 10 kilometres in total.

Walking through the winter wonderland, and leaving the noise of the highway behind us, we were a bit tired after only the first couple of small hills to ascend. But, with perseverance and determination on our side, alongside beautiful sunny weather and a warmer kind of day, we pushed forward to the parking lot.

We didn’t leave town until around 1 p.m., and were worried we would run short on daylight, but it worked out perfectly.

After walking the road to the parking lot, the trail becomes even more beautiful. Narrowing through the trees, it eventually begins to climb back and forth, up hills, and around corners. The trees become more dense, and you’re engulfed by the wilderness. There are a few blown-over trees that block the path, so you’ll need to be limber enough to climb over, under, or around them. They are kind of neat, and climbing them is definitely part of the adventure.

At this time of day, there were only a few vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived. Everyone that we passed on our way in were on their way out, happy and accomplished. Some people had snowshoes with them that weren’t needed for the hike right now, and one family had young children.

Just when we thought it might be time to turn around so we didn’t get stuck in the dark, we decided to keep going just a little while longer. The big question when hiking is always “what if it’s right there?”

And it basically was. Only another 15 minutes and we reached the falls. The difference between winter and summer is quite exciting. We didn’t hear the roar of the falls before reaching them, as they are mostly frozen over. There are only a couple pools of water at the base of the falls that glow a bright blue against the white ice. Wapta Falls in the summer is a beautiful and powerful sight to see, and in the winter it holds a steady calm and serene feeling.

We hung out there for a few minutes, grabbed some photos, and stood in awe of their beauty before heading back.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but the walk back always seems so much faster. We reached the car in no time, took off our damp sweaty layers, and cranked the heat inside on the road back home.

Winter hiking is fun, but it can be unpredictable. Luckily, only a couple days before, I read online that snowshoes weren’t necessary for this hike right now. That information can all change after a good snowfall. Finding information about good hiking trails in the winter can be difficult, but if you get the change, Wapta Falls is definitely worth the hike.

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