Whitegoat Falls is a hike to a picturesque, punch bowl waterfall along Whitegoat Creek in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada.
Whitegoat Falls is a beautiful, tiered, punch bowl waterfalls with a less-than-romantic beginning. The trail-head is a turn off from David Thompson Highway into the chain link fenced, Cline Waste Transfer Station. There is periphery parking outside the fenced waste transfer location which will avoid potential interference with dump trucks. The waste transfer facility is fenced to protect wildlife which might be attracted to the odor. It is wise to have a look about before exiting the vehicle, just on the outside chance you are not alone. Practicing bear awareness skills is always a good idea in the wilderness.
The access to Whitegoat Falls is achieved along the south side (the left side, facing the sign) of the waste transfer site. The prominent trail on the north side is a route to the 5 KM (3⅛ mile) steady, steep climb up Vision Quest.
The trail heads directly along the fence to a right turn at the end. In a very short distance along the west boundary fence, the access trail meets a road. Uncharacteristically, there is a trail sign. Turn left and hike west on the easy road which gains very gentle ascent.
Further along, the road takes a sharp left jog south before a quick right to continue further west. There are trail signs at every intersection to provide reassurance. The presence of signage is unusual in Bighorn Backcountry.
The trail (old road) continues to gain gentle ascent and the northerly terminus of Mount Stelfox gradually gains prominence on the horizon.
As the road narrows to more closely resemble wide and good quality trail, a well-signed trail junction tracks left into typical forest trail. The short hike through enchanted forest terminates into a confusing labyrinth of trail above the v-shaped canyon containing Whitegoat Creek.
The mercifully signed trail to Whitegoat Falls is an abrupt reverse in direction along the top of a steep edge of the canyon. Within a short distance there is a lofty view of the picturesque waterfall from the trail.
Periodic views through trees provide a scenic view of Mount Stelfox and Whitegoat Falls. The trail continues along the top of the ravine but the overwhelming urge to continue is resisted. Almost certainly the trail will continue to provide a path to the bottom of the canyon for close-up views of the beautiful waterfalls. This is the fifth hike of the day and although this hike is short and the descent assured, it is uncertain there is enough ascent energy left to enjoy the hike back to the top. Close proximity to Whitegoat Falls will be left for another day. Hike further along the top of the canyon, Whitegoat Falls begins to peak out from behind a rocky outcropping in the bottom of a broad, forested valley at the base of Mount Stelfox.
A long lens view of Whitegoat Falls from the top of the ravine.
The return trail by the same route continues past the junction for outstanding views of cascading, white water at the bottom of the V-shaped ravine. The well-trodden trail will continue along and above Whitegoat Creek to eventually intercept Abraham Lake. Also, it may be part of the 21.8 KM (14¼ mile) loop around 2,635 m (8,635 ft) Mount Stelfox. There is no shortage of day hiking opportunities in the area surrounding David Thompson Resort and McKenzie's Trails West.
The route back to the car parked at the Cline Waste Transfer Station is exactly the reverse of the trail taken in.
Back at David Thompson Resort, a steak dinner with a baked potato hits the spot. The remainder of the evening is consumed with processing the days photos and watching the closing ceremonies for the PANAM Games being hosted in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tomorrow is designated to be a relaxation day and change in accommodation from David Thompson Resort in Bighorn Backcountry, west to The Crossing on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada for the next collection of hiking adventures.
This short, easy foray into Whitegoat Falls is worth the time. A half or full day will provide plenty of trail options in the same area. On a return visit, the full day loop around Mount Stelfox would provide exposure above Cline River, Coral Creek and the opportunity to visit Triple Punchbowl Falls near the southeast corner of the impressive mountain. Best done on a fair weather day.
Photographs for this hike to Whitegoat Falls were captured on Sunday, July 26, 2015.