The beauty of exploring canyons is that you can do it all year round, and have a different experience every time. It is also a pretty Indiana Jones like to be exploring in between the cliffs. Imagine how exciting it is for the little ones!

The canyons on this list require very basic hiking effort to get to, and are perfect for all levels to enjoy. Dress for the weather, and if you are exploring them summer time be prepared to get wet. Winter time that moisture turns into ice, including the canyon walls, and boulders. Keep that in mind when you reach for support.

Jura Creek Trail

Jura Creek is a fairly simple 7k with 200m of elevation hike that is located off highway 1a right before Exshaw. The location on Google maps is correct except it’s on the opposite side of the highway from where it is on the map.

After a short walk through the woods, and gravel terrain you will enter a beautiful canyon. This is the shortest canyon walk in this article but still a beautiful area. If you are to continue down the valley eventually you will come across another mini canyon. This trail doesn’t go anywhere particular unless you are planning to do the peaks around. This is an easy, and a fun place to spend a couple hours at.

Grotto Canyon

Grotto Canyon is a 7km with 300M of elevation hike that is about 5 minutes down the road from Jura, and just past the town of Exshaw. This trail requires a little more effort than Jura with a minimal incline through the woods then back down into gravel valley bed that will enter you into the canyon.

You will be spending your whole walk within the windy canyon walls with frozen waterfalls as the great finale. Keep your eyes open along the way to spot pictographs. Sure frozen waterfalls are beautiful but pictographs make this trail this much extra special.

The hike generally ends at the waterfalls but you can continue down the trail, and around into the valley but there is no set destination. Winter time this part becomes a lot more dangerous as you have no clear footing. There is a cave up on hill you can climb up to but be very careful as many people injure themselves on the way down.

McGillivray Canyon Trail

McGillivray Canyon is a 5km with 200m of elevation trail that is tricky to find. If you are driving west on highway 1 you have to exit at Dead Man’s Flats, and head back east on Highway 1 towards Calgary. The exit will be on your right about 3 minutes down, keep your eyes open for it because if you miss it you will have to do a long loop around.

From parking go into the woods, and take the trail to the right at the fork. You will be going down on a narrow trail in the woods when shorty a small opening on your left will appear. After a bout half a kilometer in the refreshing forest you will have a choice to go down into the canyon, and hike up or continue to the left up the side of the canyon. You can do either. Going up adds you about 200m of elevation, and not as exciting. I have done both but coming up, and down through the canyon is more fun.

I have to say I am a little upset that I didn’t know of McGillivray canyon all this years hiking around the area. It is a beautiful moss filled canyon that is more of an obstacle course than just a hike. The canyon consists of sections you have to climb up or down via ropes, ladders, and chains. It is an absolute blast, and will bring out the inner child in everyone! Eventually you will clear the final obstacle, and a path will continue that leads you to the wedge below. There is no much point going farther, unless you want a longer hike.

Heart Creek

Why is this the plus one? Heart Creek trail is a very well known 5km with 250m of elevation hike. However, most people only hike up to the waterfall in the little canyon at the end.

Where is that waterfall coming from you wonder? I did as well. If you climb up to the side of the hill on the right, and hug it back around a couple minutes you will find a small divide. Go up this very steep hillside to the left. It is a short but heart pumping climb especially winter time when it is all iced over. You can view the waterfall from a very sketchy area on top. Make sure to continue down the path into the valley.

This is a truly beautiful area to explore the whole day. There will be some very fun canyons on your left for the brave, and the physically fit. Don’t go in here alone, this is a very demanding area that requires team work! The streams on the right can actually be (very hard) hiked via to McGillivray. This is one of my favourite backcountry areas for the effort.

Be safe, and enjoy!



Spread the love