I don't know much about David Thompson area & tired of cold and winter decided to head out and explore a bit dry montane environs with warmer temps. With no particular plan in head, pulled over at Siffleur Falls Staging area, some 15-20 min from Icefields Parkway junction at Sask. River Crossing. This is very popular family hike in summer months, but on this day I had it to myself. Trail with board signs leads to fantastic suspension bridge crossing over North Saskatchewan River, then across Kootenay Plains on boardwalk and then after icy stretch across Siffleur River bridge. Turning upstream trail climbs a bit then settles on great traverse above deep canyon below & reaches Siffleur Falls within an hour (~3.5km). Ice gorge was very impressive. Spikes were necessary.
[North Saskatchewan River crossing. Bridge sways a bit, probably even uncomfortable with traffic jam, but I was on my own]
[Table signs as trail emerges to open escarpment above deep canyon. There is potential for serious fall in case of slip, and further above near the falls there are several railings]
[Looking down Siffleur River canyon; trails runs on right side at edge of forest. You can appreciate serious consequences in case of fall]
[Main Siffleur Falls; almost like Johnston Canyon, but nowhere so much of a tourist gong show]
Above the falls trail continues (with table by AB Parks warning about backcountry, and trail not being maintained). I followed for ~30 min and it was great hike, springtime conditions, always by the river alternating with iced areas and small pools. Couple of fire rings and eventually I nestled at sunny and flat overlook and had lunch.
[Above the falls; without ice in summer probably very refreshing. Note ridge on other side; it is possible to get there too, as I will explain lower down]
Where does this trail end up? Digging a bit at home I learned there are second and third falls further up, but nowhere as impressive as first one. Eventually one comes to Siffleur Wilderness boundary; I am quite sure backcountry routes continue from there leading in multi-day adventure. Here
is bit of interesting read with photos
On return after reaching Kootenay Plains boardwalk I decided to explore a bit. Ridge above just begged to be hiked up. With sunny exposure it was almost dry and I easily clambered up to delightful montane meadow interspersed with trees and low shrubs. Beautiful views and I took another break down to T-shirt in warm afternoon sunshine
[Pano across Kootenay Plains as I hiked up the ridge. Note boardwalk lower center of photo -- this is Siffleur Falls Trail]
[Point where ridge dips a bit and where I turned back. By dropping down and then re-ascending to other side one could easily reach other side of Siffleur Falls. (There was also faint trail on valley floor just before Siffleur River bridge on main trail)]
[View east across Kootenay Plains towards Abraham lake, seen in the distance]
[North Saskatchewan River on return by what seemed like old wagon trail. There is lots to explore here]
Still had some time after coming back to parking, so drove for another 15 min or so towards Nordegg, wanting to take some shots of Abraham Lake. It is still solid ice & crossing is more than safe (but won't be for much longer!). Couple of shots:
[6x2 matrix photo stitch, aiming to capture entire lake. Cline Fire lookout across; now is probably optimal time for that one as lake is still frozen, but there is very little snow / postholing on other side]
[Proof that lake crossing is still safe]
[Mount Michener, as prairie meets the foothills. Moderate scramble, also with short season because of lake crossing - best done about now]
David Thompson is gem of an area and I can see the appeal it has to people I spoke to over the years. There are some businesses along the corridor too, now closed. Great early spring destination!
Detail report with Map and GPS Track as usual here