Tershishner Falls is a short hike from David Thompson Highway west of Nordegg along Tershishner Creek to a small, canyon-framed, scenic waterfall.
From 'The David Thompson Highway: A Hiking Guide', Tershishner Creek was originally known as the Stoney Name 'Chasesna Waptan' (Brulé Creek) which was modified to 'Tetichina Creek' which did not bode well with the English tongue so it was modified again to Tershishner which is a phonetic variation of 'Chasesna' and hypothetically more pronunciation pleasing. So, there. Your life is complete.
Tershishner Creek trail-head is along the David Thompson Highway, 17.4 KM (10¾ miles) southwest of the intersection to Goldeye Centre, or 7.8 KM (4⅞ miles) southwest of the turnoff for Crescent Falls, or 5.5 KM (3⅜ miles) northeast of the Allstones Lake trail head on approach from the south.
Tershishner Creek is clearly signed along the David Thompson Highway. Parking is a turn off the highway just south of the creek on the northwest side of the highway. Curl around and drive a very short distance to the Y junction of two dirt roads. Park in the shade of roadside trees. Neither of these two roads has anything to do with hiking to Tershishner Falls.
Walk back to the highway. Do not cross the highway. In the roadside ditch, walk north to an old, faint road heading left for a short distance which leads directly to Tershishner Creek. The road has been washed out. The trail is gone. The 'Dead End' sign is a clue.
The short, easy 2.4 KM (1½ miles) hike has changed from trail with three creek crossings to a walk up the flood-damaged creek without a paddle. No problem in rubber boots or hiking sandals which are required for the final approach to the waterfall anyway. Old sneakers will do. Hiking boots will be useless and full of water.
Where the road ends abruptly into flood damage, back up a few paces and take a reasonable ramp off the side to the creek bed. The hike is on stone-covered creek beds with multiple crossings from side to side to avoid obstacles.
Occasionally, there is a snippet of old trail which has been kindly tagged with flagging tape by a previous hiker. In most cases it is just as easy to hike the creek bed. The hike is a fun and entertaining exercise in easy route finding. Flood debris has created several situations where creek navigation is the only feasible alternative.
The water, on this day, is tame, cool and refreshing. There is always a relatively easy way around every obstacle. It is like solving an ongoing puzzle and a much more satisfying wilderness adventure experience. One situation requires hiking in the creek under a bridge of debris.
All previous bridge and log crossings are gone. There is a flagged section of trail through forest near the final approach which is a singular alternative. The creek curls through narrowing and loftier canyon walls. The sound of Tershishner Falls becomes audible over the rushing white water beneath hiking sandals. Anticipation is short.
Tershishner Falls comes into view at the end of a dramatic canyon. The waterfall is only about 4 meters (13 feet) tall but beautifully encased in a dramatic rock wall setting which amplifies the sound. The final approach is through the creek and/or on rock rubble where careful steps will reduce the chance of minor injury. The final few meters are magic. The white water falls into a deep pond of crystal-clear, aquamarine water. Sight and sound is mesmerizing. The view on this particular hike is unique.
A large log has tumbled over the fall and lodged itself vertically in the bottom of the pool. Normally, this would not be a feature of the scenic waterfall. Heavy water has put the log there and, barring unforeseen circumstance, it is also likely more heavy water will remove the log and carry it downstream. More about this later.
The following photo sequence documents the final approach to the very beautiful Tershishner Falls.
Leaving is difficult.
After the final look back, it is necessary to focus on the return hike via the same route used for access. There is an opportunity to scout alternative paths but walking beside, and in, the creek is the most expeditious and satisfying alternative.
The waterfall experience is mellowing and wandering with absolutely no sense of urgency is very relaxing and civilized.
The short hike has a listed duration of one hour. Twice that is taken and probably the hike should have been dragged out some more but Allstones Lake is the next hike for this day and overnight accommodation changes to David Thompson Resort at the conclusion of this days adventures.
Oh! About that log standing in the middle of the waterfall. There are a lot of folks in these here parts with excellent roping skills. At David Thompson Resort, I inform them of the vertical log and suggest someone with a lariat needs to visit the waterfall and lasso that log. The suggestion is for a couple of strong people to pull it over and prop it horizontally on rocks at canyon side as a bench for a nice lunch spot with a great view of the waterfall.
This short, easy hike to Tershishner Falls becomes one of the favorite hikes on this 12-day road trip and hiking mission.
Photographs for the Tershishner Falls hike in Bighorn Backcountry were taken on the morning of Friday, July 24, 2015 southwest of Nordegg, Alberta, Canada.