Siffleur River – Third Falls and Wilderness Area Access

Hike to the edge of the Siffleur Wilderness Area

The trail to the first set of falls on the Siffleur River is very popular but going beyond those falls offers great views and the likelihood of hiking the rest of the day without seeing anyone else.

Published on April 30, 2015 | Last updated on November 4, 2022

Those looking for the trail guide for the easy hike to the first set of falls should have a look at the Siffleur Falls Trail Guide. This guide is for the longer hike along the river, all the way to the edge of the wilderness area.

The Siffleur River trail takes you through two protected areas with the highest levels of protection in Alberta: the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve and the Siffleur Wilderness Area.

Ecological reserves are the second highest level of protection in the province, focused on preserving natural heritage in an undisturbed state for scientific research and education. This is a special place and access is limited to low impact activities. Camping and fires are prohibited in the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.

The trail ends at the edge of the Siffleur Wilderness Area, one of only 3 wilderness area in the province. These areas have one of the highest level of protection in Canada with limited nature-based outdoor recreation allowed. Camping is allowed but fires are prohibited within the Siffleur Wilderness Area.

Trails are not maintained within the wilderness area but this historical route connects with the Pipestone River trail, attracting a few backpackers each year making the journey from Abraham Lake to Lake Louise.

The Cline River Canyon
The Cline River Canyon Galleria

At a Glance

  • Distance: 14 km return
  • Elevation gain: ~245 m
  • Challenge Level: Moderate
  • Trail type: There and back
  • Congestion: Moderate
  • Management: Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve
  • Other Trail Uses: None

Trailhead: Approximately 62 km west of Nordegg and 21 km east of the Banff National Park boundary. The trail starts at the Siffleur Falls Staging Area which provides ample parking space and dry toilets.

We all have our part to do to keep this place special. Planning ahead is key to ensuring that we all continue to enjoy adventures in the Nordegg & Abraham Lake region. These are a few of the things you can do to help:

  • Minimize your impact by using existing sites, fire rings and toilets instead of creating your own.
  • Know about current fire bans, make sure that your fire is completely out before you go and buy firewood instead of cutting down trees. Remember that shooting fireworks is not allowed in the region.
  • Keep your site clean and your food stored inside your vehicle to help keep our wildlife wild. Always use bear-proof garbage bins.
  • While alcohol is now permitted in some Alberta Parks day-use areas, none of those are in our region. Alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites.
  • Be mindful of your neighbours and other visitors, including keeping noise to a minimum.
  • Be prepared for adventures in a remote area. Explore within your skills to reduce the strain on our volunteer search and rescue team.
  • Remember that cell service is limited. We recommend carrying a satellite communicator, like a Zoleo, on your adventures.
  • Support local businesses and communities in Cline River, the Bighorn and Nordegg.

Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.

The Trail Guide

Siffleur Falls Access | 7 km

  • 0.5 km | Suspension bridge
  • 0.7 km | Boardwalk
  • 1.2 km | Go left at the end of the boardwalk
  • 1.8 km | Siffleur River Bridge
  • 1.9 km | Go left at the junction
  • 3.2 km | Canyon Viewpoint
  • 3.5 km | Siffleur Falls
  • 4.7 km | Gravel Wash
  • 5.9 km | Second Falls Viewpoint
  • 6.5 km | Third Falls
  • 7.0 km | Siffleur Wilderness Area Boundary

Siffleur Falls Return Trail | 7 km

  • Retrace your steps back to the trailhead

The Journey

From the trailhead parking lot, follow the main Siffleur Falls trail making your way across the North Saskatchewan River on the suspension bridge. A boardwalk has been build through the next section. This area is extremely fragile, please stay on the boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk, follow Glacier Trail on the left toward the Siffleur River.

Hiking through the forest along the Cline River
The Cline River and Abraham Lake
The narrow canyon of the Cline River

Shortly after the Siffleur River bridge the trails comes at a junction. The Siffleur Falls trail is the one on the right.

Before long you’ll be treated to great views of the canyon at a series of viewing platforms. The falls ahead are impressive with the Siffleur River plunging 15 m through a narrow channel in the rock. Take the time to enjoy the views and make sure to stay a safe distance from the cliffs and canyon edge. Unfortunately the area has seen many casualties over the year.

The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon

The next section starts with a sign warning that trails in the area are unmarked and from our experience not always maintained. Follow the trail away from the falls and along the river. Along the way you’ll come across a number of shallow canyons with some of the best views available early and late in the season when the water levels are lower.

The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon

At the gravel wash, head down toward the river and make your way up along the edge of the canyon. Signs of the 2013 flood are obvious here and the old trail, further away from the river, are still visible. From there the trails continues to follow the river, becoming narrow in sections as it makes its way across the slope leading down to the canyon below.

As you go you’ll come across a number of informal campsite and fire pits. Those look like they get significant use but keep in mind that camping and fires are prohibited in this area and the entire Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.

The second set of falls is visible from high above along the way.

The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon
The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon

At the next gravel wash (and sometimes creek crossing) head down to the river to a quiet spot below the third set of falls. It makes for a pleasant lunch spot and for many this is the end of the hike. This looks like another popular camping spot but if you are looking at camping legally, just head a little further along the trail to the Siffleur Wilderness Area.

The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon

The Siffleur Wilderness Area boundary is only 0.5 km away at this point. Head back up the creek to the trail and continue along. Soon you’ll get to see some great views of the river cascading into the third set of falls before coming up to the wilderness area.

The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon
The Icefalls
The Cline River Canyon Viewpoint
The access to the canyon

The Return

The falls mark the end of the trail for most people. If you want to go further, the trail continues to two more sets of falls and leads to the Siffleur Wilderness Area. You can find out more about the next section in the Siffleur Falls – Third Falls and Wilderness Area Access trail guide. To head back to the trailhead, simply retrace your footstep.

The People

All the stories we share are by locals, whether they live here or love our region and contribute to making it an amazing place.

Contributors to this Story:

Contributor

  • JP Fortin

    JP is the Owner + CEO at Nordegg Adventures where he oversees the development of new adventures, guide training, strategic planning, marketing and destination development partnerships.