About Silverton Falls
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. 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 the waterfall. 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.
From the car park, proceed on the signposted trail and just stay on it until you see a signposted fork where the path on the right leads to Silverton Falls (as suggested by the sign). Once you follow this path, take it until you reach a three-way or four-way fork (it depends on how you interpret the false trails here) where the path on the left starts to ascend noticeably.
At this intersection, do not go straight and do not go right. We’ll explain later why when we talk about our little adventure.
After one long switchback, the trail then traverses a short and exposed landslip section before eventually ending at an overlook of the top two tiers of Silverton Falls (see photo at the top of this page). The remaining tiers continue to tumble and drop below this vantage point, but we weren’t able to see them given the ruggedness of the terrain.
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 you came towards the car park, the round trip distance should be 1.4km (less than a mile).
OK, so with that said, now we’ll discuss the route that we took on the way in…
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. And since the map signs indicated that the 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.
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 did that.
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 where 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. 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).
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 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.
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 (I believe it’s 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 and shortly thereafter, we turned left onto the signposted car park for Rockbound Lake a little over 4km further to the south. 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.
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, and 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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