Crowsnest Pass Waterfalls in Alberta Canada - Not one, not two, but three waterfalls adventures in one stellar day! Star Creek, Rainbow and Allison Creek Falls are relatively short walks to superlative views. What's not to love about waterfall Wednesdays in Alberta's Crowsnest Pass? Of course, it could be a Monday, Tuesday or any other day of the week. But it just happened to be mid-week for our visit to three of the dozen or more accessible waterfalls in the Crowsnest Pass.
Starting My Crowsnest Pass Waterfalls Day
From time to time, we like to go on shorter adventures. Experiences where full day packs are replaced with lightweight fanny packs carrying little more than water and bear spray. This was one of those outdoor adventure days.
The sun was shining clear and bright as we loaded up in the car. It was a short drive to historic Coleman. Coleman is one of the five communities that make up the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta. We meandered through town, crossed the railway tracks and headed over the Crowsnest River. Before long, we were pulling off onto the gravel road that leads to the Star Creek Falls trailhead.
Parking in the shade, we climbed a short hill before descending again to the creek. Heading upstream, the shade of the woods was a welcome reprieve, and we slowed our pace to bathe in the coolness. Crossing well-built little wooden bridge over Star Creek – don't be fooled by the path continuing upstream here – we tackled the most strenuous uphill stretch of the trail. Don't worry it doesn't go on forever!
The first viewpoint is high on the cliff above the creek. A lone tree clinging to the hillside makes for a scenic photo. The roar of the falls is loud. In the distance, tall grey peaks loom above the horizon. A little further uphill and the falls come into full view. It's the perfect spot to catch your breath and watch the water fall.
You can return the way you came or continue down a steep narrow path back down to the creek and up another short hill for a third viewpoint. This one offers views of Crowsnest, Window Rock and Tecumseh Mountain. It also gives you as different angle on Star Creek Falls. With steep and unstable banks in mind, I chose a good place to stop moving before taking out my camera to capture the moment. From here we joined up with the ATV trails to make the 2.5-kilometre loop back down to our car. Great start to my Crowsnest Pass Waterfalls day!
For our second of this series of Crowsnest Pass waterfalls, we chose Rainbow Falls on Nez Perce Creek. Parking at the trailhead at the far end of Flumerfelt Park – love that coal mine owner's name! – we strolled in sandals up the path. In contrast to the rougher and steeper trail surface of Star Creek Falls, this one follows a constructed trail with a couple of benches. It's perfect for sitting back and listening for footsteps from the past.
The creek follows the 1.9-kilometre (out and back) Miner's Path. For close to 50 years from 1909 to 1957, miners would walk up from Coleman for their shifts in the McGillivray Mine. Keep your eyes peeled for the metal rods hammered into one of the towering Douglas fir trees. These rusted bits of metal were part of the lighting system set up for miners on the night shift.
Not far past the now closed footbridge leading up the mine was our goal for the day – Rainbow Falls. Two little dippers – of the bird variety! – were frolicking in the falls when we approached. It's a super scenic second stop.
Back in the car, we took the short drive west towards Chinook Lake and parked at the base of the gravel hill at the lake edge. The Allison Creek Falls is approximately 1.6 kilometres in length out and back, but you'll have to work for the view with a couple of creek crossing and some tricky trail sections. But don't panic, it's worth it!
Following the shoreline, we walked over the dry dam and down the road to an unmarked path off to the left. We followed up the creek, scrambling up over a small, washed-out sections before hitting the first of two creek crossings. Trust me the water is refreshing. We made a quick crossing with water shoes. However, our feet barely had a chance to thaw… I mean warm up!… before we hit the second ford.
The path twists and winds beside the babbling creek. And then, there they are! The falls are a series of low cascades tumbling down rock ledges below an old wooden dam. Crowsnest Mountain pokes out between the aspen trees. Simply spectacular!
Crowsnest Pass waterfalls 1 : Take the west entrance into historic Coleman. Follow the road winding down the hill and turn right on 18th Avenue. Continue along, turning right onto 17th Avenue and keep going, crossing the railway tracks. Keep right and follow 16th Avenue crossing the Crowsnest River and continuing straight towards the end of the road. On the left, just before the footbridge at the end of the road is 54th Street. Turn left on this gravel road for a short drive to the base of the hill. Park here and start your hike! Photo Credit: Megan Kopp
Crowsnest Pass waterfalls 2 : Drive back up through historic Coleman from Star Creek and instead following the curve of the road back onto the highway, continue straight under the road to Flumerfelt Park. Drive past the waterpark to the upper parking lot and trailhead. The falls are a straight walk upstream. Photo Credit: Megan Kopp
Crowsnest Pass waterfalls 3 : Head west of Coleman on Highway 3 for 8 km to the signed turnoff for Allison/Chinook. Turn left after the cattleguard and follow the gravel road to the end at Chinook Lake. Park in the small parking lot before the campground. Walk to the lake and follow the path to the right past the beach and up over the small dam. Continue downhill on the old roadway and walk for the small, unmarked trail on the left (before you come to the creek). After a short stroll through the woods, you will come to the creek. Follow it upstream to the falls. Photo Credit: Megan Kopp
Bucket list item Star Creek Falls. Great info Megan Kopp from one waterfaller to another. I know Melanie Adair also enjoys waterfalling hikes.