Waterfall Valley is a short, easy, urban hike in NW Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Waterfall Valley, also known as Silver Springs Coulee, is a short, easy, urban hike in northwest Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Parking is available at 54th Avenue NW near the south end of Silver Springs Boulevard.
Google Maps or on-board GPS is an excellent resource for the access through Silver Springs.
The Calgary Pathways and Bikeways Map is also an excellent reference. When it is feasible, the Waterfall Valley Trail-head can also be accessed on bicycle, or on foot, via the excellent but hilly Bow River Pathway on the north side of the Bow River above the Community of Bowness.
The short path leads down to wooden stairs and a boardwalk into the sheltered, spring-fed valley. Within a few minutes, dense foliage eliminates any hint of urban presence on this short, beautiful hike from the top of the valley to the shore of the Bow River. Watch for small up and down steps along the boardwalk to avoid tripping. Some are marked more clearly than others and it is easy to become distracted by the incredible surrounding beauty.
This valley was created several thousand years ago by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Ten thousand years ago, the majority of present-day, metropolitan Calgary was beneath massive Glacial Lake Calgary. Much of the surrounding soil is a result of ancient lake deposits.
Waterfall Valley tracks a babbling brook, collecting water from springs in the surrounding hills and delivering it to the Bow River at the bottom in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Near the bottom, on the approach to the spring-fed waterfalls near the Bow River, colorful shrubbery and tufa formations accentuate the landscape. The trail passes close to the delicate, spring-fed waterfalls.
A short excursion on slippery trail above the waterfalls leads to the source of one the springs feeding the waterfalls.
The clay-like soil is slippery when wet. Careful foot placement is wise, combined with an occasional and convenient veggie belay. An excellent view of the pretty and colorful waterfalls is available looking straight down from above.
A complex array of trail leads in every direction up and down the embankment.
The trail continues a brief distance past the waterfalls to a rise which terminates at a viewing platform above the north shore of the Bow River. From this vantage point there are excellent views of the dramatic cliffs rising above the Bow River to the west where rafters are making their way along a watercourse dramatically reconfigured by June 2013 flooding.
Looking downriver to the east reveals children playing in the sand at the outlet from the creek hosting the waterfalls.
There is an opportunity for final views of the tufa waterfalls on the return hike to the top of the valley via the same route.
The density and variety of plant life in this valley is truly impressive. There are also many birds and dragonflies which explains the scarcity of biting insects.
Interpretive plaques along the trail are interesting and provide brief explanations about the formation of the area and the reasons for the lush vegetation.
A labyrinth of trail in the area is subsidiary to the main trail. Some well-established gravel trails are used for mountain biking and one of them is chosen to provide a shorter route back to the car.
There are mature trees providing shade and large bushes laden with berries along the chosen alternative route.
The short, easy hike into Waterfall Valley is worth the time. This cooler place provides welcome retreat from a hot day and a pleasant alternative to city pavement.
Photos for this easy and interesting hike into Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, are taken on August 3, 2014.