Silverton Falls

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

About Silverton Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2010-09-21
Date last visited: 2010-09-21

Waterfall Latitude: 51.27338
Waterfall Longitude: -115.90815

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Silverton Falls was a relatively quiet and fairly unknown waterfall within the boundaries of Banff National Park.

At least it certainly seemed that way to us as we only saw a couple of other cars at the car park where most other attractions in the park had many more vehicles in larger car parks.

Silverton_Falls_025_09212010 - Silverton Falls
Silverton Falls

So we felt it was a nice and quiet hiking experience though we did have to weigh the risks of that quiet experience with a higher likelihood of having a grizzly bear encounter during berry season.

Julie and I felt that there was quite a bit of confusion regarding this waterfall.

That was because we noticed that there were numerous “false” or unsigned trails that didn’t necessarily lead to Silverton Falls.

It wasn’t until we followed a trail with a signposted fork on the way back to the car park did we realize that we followed some dodgy advise or hiking directions from the internet on the way in.

So we’ll first explain the trail on the shorter more straightforward 0.7km (each way) route before telling you about our little adventure.

Hiking to Silverton Falls the Recommended Way

Silverton_Falls_003_09212010 - Julie hiking on the wide main trail to Silverton Falls
Julie hiking on the wide main trail to Silverton Falls

From the car park (see directions below), would proceed on the signposted trail and stay on it until we would see a signposted fork.

The path on the right would lead to Silverton Falls (as suggested by the sign).

Once we would follow this path, we would take it until we’d reach a three-way or four-way fork.

Whether it was three-way or four-way depended on how we would interpret the false trails here.

The path on the left started to ascend noticeably, and that was the one we had to take to get right up to the Silverton Falls.

Silverton_Falls_044_09212010 - Even though this photo was taken when Julie and I were returning from Silverton Falls, if she had faced the other way, she would take the ascending trail that would have been on her left to get to the Silverton Falls
Even though this photo was taken when Julie and I were returning from Silverton Falls, if she had faced the other way, she would take the ascending trail that would have been on her left to get to the Silverton Falls

Another thing worth noting was at this intersection, we learned the hard way not to go straight nor to go right.

We’ll explain later why when we talk about our little adventure further below.

After one long switchback on the climb up along the leftmost path of the junction, the trail then traversed a short and exposed landslip section.

Eventually, the trail ended at an overlook of the top two tiers of Silverton Falls (see photo at the top of this page).

The remaining tiers continued to tumble and drop below this vantage point, but we weren’t able to see them given the ruggedness of the terrain.

Silverton_Falls_016_09212010 - Julie traversing a potentially slick and eroded section on the way to the Silverton Falls
Julie traversing a potentially slick and eroded section on the way to the Silverton Falls

It looked like there was a steep scrambling path descending towards the pool at the base of the second waterfall, but we didn’t feel particularly comfortable with the steepness and dropoff exposure so we didn’t do it.

Returning back the way we came towards the car park, the round trip distance should be 1.4km (less than a mile).

Falling for false trails en route to Silverton Falls

OK, so with that said, now we’ll discuss the route that we ended up taking on the way in, which involved our little misadventure…

From the car park, we followed the main trail as noted above, but a short distance after we passed the signpost and mini-shelter, we noticed an unsigned fork leading to the right.

Silverton_Falls_005_09212010 - Julie on some unmarked trail except for these '2' signs that we weren't sure what they meant
Julie on some unmarked trail except for these ‘2’ signs that we weren’t sure what they meant

Since the map signs indicated that the Silverton Falls was towards the right on Silverton Creek while the lakes were towards the left, we decided to take the unsigned fork on the right thinking that the left fork went to the lake.

Ultimately, this trail led past a pair of yellow-green signs labeled “2” before reaching another fork right in front of a footbridge.

It was here that I recalled from the internet literature that we shouldn’t cross the bridge and take the trail following the creek to the left instead.

So we heeded that advise.

Silverton_Falls_007_09212010 - Taking the narrow trail (to Silverton Falls) on the left before this footbridge, which we didn't take based on some pre-trip advice
Taking the narrow trail (to Silverton Falls) on the left before this footbridge, which we didn’t take based on some pre-trip advice

Eventually after walking through a somewhat narrow trail (it was at this time that we wondered why this trail seemed so dodgy compared to the main trail we had left several minutes ago), we reached a junction.

At this junction, there was a trail that veered left as it went uphill as well as a trail that continued following the creek to our right.

So we followed the creekside trail, which involved ducking under fallen trees.

Eventually, we reached the base of Silverton Falls, but all we were able to see was the unsatisfying bottommost tier.

Silverton_Falls_012_09212010 - Arriving at the unremarkable base of Silverton Falls after having taken a false path and scrambled our way here
Arriving at the unremarkable base of Silverton Falls after having taken a false path and scrambled our way here

The remaining tiers were difficult to see without wading in the creek at this point.

That was when we realized that we must have gone the wrong way and we backtracked to the junction.

Once we got to the familiar junction, we then went uphill in what turned out to be a long switchback (the same one mentioned above on the description of the route that we should have taken in the first place).

Eventually, it crossed a landslip and ended up at a perch where we saw the upper two tiers of the Silverton Falls (just as described earlier).

Silverton_Falls_047_09212010 - Somehow we missed this sign and fork on the way in.  We should have kept left here in order to remain on the easiest and most straightforward trail to reach the Silverton Falls
Somehow we missed this sign and fork on the way in. We should have kept left here in order to remain on the easiest and most straightforward trail to reach the Silverton Falls

And when we had our fill of the falls, we took that shorter more straightforward way that we should’ve taken in the first place (i.e. the route that we discussed earlier on this page that we advocate you should be doing to minimize confusion).

All in all, Julie and I spent about 70 minutes on this trail despite the unforeseen detours that we took.

I’d imagine it would take far less time had we just followed the trail we should have taken in the first place.

Authorities

Silverton Falls resides in Banff National Park near Lake Louise in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is administered by Parks Canada. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Silverton_Falls_049_09212010 - This was the unsigned junction that messed us up on the way in to Silverton Falls
Silverton_Falls_008_09212010 - Julie on the still fairly-defined trail as we followed it alongside a small brook during our little misadventure away from the main footpath to Silverton Falls
Silverton_Falls_010_09212010 - There was still some residual snow alongside the Silverton Falls Trail from the clearing snow storm
Silverton_Falls_011_09212010 - Julie ducking under trees while following the creek towards Silverton Falls (though it turned out to be a false trail)
Silverton_Falls_014_09212010 - After finally getting straightened out, we took the correct path up to Silverton Falls, which involved this switchback during its ascent
Silverton_Falls_015_09212010 - Julie approaches a little landslip section a short distance before the endpoint of the hike to Silverton Falls
Silverton_Falls_018_09212010 - Finally made it to the main lookout for Silverton Falls
Silverton_Falls_027_09212010 - Looking downstream over the remaining hidden tiers of Silverton Falls
Silverton_Falls_040_09212010 - As we were heading back to the car park, we got this view of clouded mountains in the distance.  Imagine how much more scenic it would've been without the clouds!
Silverton_Falls_051_09212010 - Julie returning to the car park for Rockbound Lake where our rental car was the last one here for the day

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There were a couple of approaches to the Silverton Falls that I’ll describe in this write-up.

We’ll start with the Icefields Parkway approach.

Driving to Silverton Falls from the Icefields Parkway

On Hwy 1 going south from its junction with the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) just north of Lake Louise, we drove for about 28km (30 minutes) until we exited at a ramp connecting with Hwy 1A and Hwy 93 (which I believe is called the Banff Windermere Parkway).

We turned left at the exit to take Hwy 1A after crossing over a couple bridges as well as a railroad.

When we reached a three-way junction (might be called the Castle Junction), we turned right to continue going southeast onto Hwy 1A.

Shortly thereafter, we turned left onto the signposted car park for Rockbound Lake a little over 4km further to the south.

Silverton_Falls_001_09212010 - Looking towards the trailhead for Silverton Falls from its trailhead parking lot
Looking towards the trailhead for Silverton Falls from its trailhead parking lot

In total, this drive was said to be about 32km (taking about 30 minutes).

The car park for Rockbound Lake is the trailhead for Silverton Falls.

Driving to Silverton Falls from Banff

Alternatively, we could drive north on Hwy 1 from Banff to the Hwy 1A/Hwy 93 exit a little over 20 minutes away.

Then turn right and follow the directions as above towards Rockbound Lake car park.

Finally, it’s also possible to take Hwy 1 from Banff to the Hwy 1A exit after 5 minutes due north.

Once on the Hwy 1A, we’d then follow Hwy 1A towards the Rockbound Lake car park turnoff in another 23km (which probably takes about a half-hour or longer given the slower speed limit and increased likelihood of wildlife crossings on this route).

For some context, Banff Town was 57km (45 minutes drive) south of Lake Louise, 127km (90 minutes drive) west of Calgary, 288km (over 3.5 hours drive) south of Jasper, and 413km (4 hours drive) southwest of Edmonton.

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Top down sweep of the falls following the waterflow towards more cascades and other unseen tiers further down the canyon


Fixated on the uninteresting bottom tier of the falls

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Tagged with: banff, national park, silverton, canadian rockies, canada, waterfall, alberta, johnston canyon



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About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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