Whitegoat Falls Winter Hike

An easy winter hike along Abraham Lake

A pretty frozen waterfall that’s well worth the short hike through the forest.

Published on March 5, 2021 | Last updated on October 30, 2022

These falls may not be as dramatic in the winter as others nearby like Siffleur Falls, the Cline River Canyon or Crescent Falls but they’re still worth the effort. They are not as busy as the better known frozen waterfalls meaning that you often have the place to yourself and the ability to walk right to the base of the falls allows you to really appreciate their scale.

The best times to visit are first thing in the morning and shortly before sunset when the light on the falls is at its best. Snowshoes are best after a snowfall but this trail is usually well packed enough to use ice cleats only on most days.

Whitegoat Falls
Whitegoat Falls

At a Glance

  • Distance: 3.6 km return
  • Elevation gain: ~120 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy | Family Friendly
  • Trail type: There and back
  • Congestion: Minimal
  • Management: Kiska / Wilson PLUZ
  • Other Trail Uses: Snowmobiles are allowed on a section of the trail

Trailhead: Approximately 45 km west of Nordegg and 45 km east of Saskatchewan River Crossing. During the winter months the road to the Cline River Waste Transfer Station is not maintained. Park at the highway and walk up the access road. 

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

Distances

  • 0.3 km | Waste Transfer Station
  • 0.5 km | Whitegoat Creek Trail
  • 1.3 km | Whitegoat Falls Trail Junction
  • 1.6 km | Junction
  • 1.6 km | Steeper Hill / Creek Access
  • 1.8 km | Whitegoat Falls

The Waste Transfer Station

The trail starts at the Cline Waste Transfer Station. This might not sound like the best spot to start a hike but you’ll soon forget about it as you make your way up to the falls.

The access road is not maintained in the winter so we recommend parking at the highway and walking up from there. In some years there are enough tracks to drive in but make sure to know your vehicle’s limit before you attempt it.

Follow the trail on the left heading around the fenced-in area to make your way across to the other side of the transfer station. At this point, a sign marks the Whitegoat Trail. Follow the wide trail up the gentle hill through the forest.

The Cline River Waste Transfer Station
The trail to Whitegoat Falls

The Whitegoat Falls Trail

After 900 metres there is a well-marked junction on the left with another sign showing the way. This is the trail to Whitegoat Falls. Follow the narrower path into the forest, making your way down the hill toward the creek.

Junction on the way to Whitegoat Falls

The Canyon

As the trail approaches the creek you’ll come across a few braids and signs. Take a right following the sign for Whitegoat Falls and then go down the steep but short hill to access the creek at the entrance of the canyon. Remember that ice cleats don’t work well on rocks and take your time making your way down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, cross the frozen creek and make your way up along the stream bed.

Cline Creek or Whitegoat Creek?

A lot of the names used in the region are informal names, sometimes making things confusing as we share stories of our adventures. In this case, the creek you’re walking on is Whitegoat Creek despite the sign at the highway calling it Cline Creek. 

Whitegoat Creek has been the official name since 1975 while Cline Creek is the name officially assigned in 1987 to a tributary of the Brazeau River on the boundary between Jasper National Park and the White Goat Wilderness Area. 

Follow the sign to the falls
The steep access to Whitegoat Creek
Looking downstream into the Whitegoat Creek canyon

The Falls

Approximately 200 metres later the falls appear as you make your way around the bend in the creek. This makes for a great rest stop for some pictures and a snack.

Whitegoat Falls
Whitegoat Falls
Whitegoat Falls

The Return Trail

We recommend that you retrace your footsteps to return to the trailhead.

The other options, including going up the steep hill at the falls or following the trail back to the waste transfer station from the canyon, are more challenging in the winter. Check out the summer trail guide if you are interested to find out more.

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:

Contributors

  • Brett Pawlyk & Annabelle Oung

    They have been exploring the Canadian Rockies and the world's mountain ranges for close to four decades combined. They manage HeLa Ventures, an outdoor education centre located between Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg. Brett also guides for Nordegg Adventures in the winter and Annabelle is a freelance translator. When they are not working you'll find them hiking and scrambling in the region with their daughter Tessa.

  • 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.