Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
The hike to the Canyon Creek Ice Cave starts at the Ing's Mine trailhead just before Elbow Falls in the Elbow Valley section of Kananaskis. Having done this hike a couple of times, I feel like I've got a good grasp on what to expect with it. The first 5.5km's is a walk along a dirt road, because public driving access to the actual trail was closed off many years ago due to a fatal accident on the approach to the trail. It's worth noting that you SHOULD NOT be attempting this hike if you don't have some kind of safety helmet when entering the cave.
My friend Jesse hiking along the dirt road.
As I stated above, it's a 5.5kmhike along a dirt road to get to where the trail heads off into the woods. It's hard to miss the spot where the trail starts climbing up as it is well marked. From here it's a 1km uphill trek that is moderately difficult. The last push towards the cave entrance can be very dangerous, as there is loose rock everywhere and it's a pretty steep climb. I'd even say this part is a mild scramble for a few hundred meters. Just make sure to pick your footing wisely and go slow if you need to.
The hauntingly beautiful entrance to the Canyon Creek Ice Cave.
Jesse making his final ascent to the entrance of the cave.
Like I said before, make sure you are wearing a helmet when you enter the cave, just in case an accident were to happen. I bonked my head pretty good on a low section the last time I was there, but luckily I had my helmet on and my head was safe! In addition you should also have a strong flashlight AND a headlamp. Why you ask? Well when you get into the cave you'll soon be in complete darkness, and a phone flashlight really just isn't going to cut it here.
Myself, all ready to enter the cave with my helmet, GoPro, and headlamp.
The cave goes back pretty far, possibly half a kilometer or more. There will always be ice in the cave year round, as it's pretty cold in the cave. What marks the end of your adventure in the dark will be a large wall of ice that blocks your way. This wall of ice has been here for a very long time, and is so thick that no one has been able to get past it into the inner chambers of the cave. I've heard there's another way here to progress a little further, but requires some crawling and I'm personally too squeamish about tight spaces to attempt that.
The wall of ice that prevents further exploration.
Jesse with his headlamp standing in front of the ice wall.
Once you've finished admiring the cave, head back the way you came. Be extra careful when descending, because it's a steep climb down. You'll then return to the parking lot the same way you came, hopefully with an amazing memory of a unique hike!
Here's one way to descend down the loose-rocked slopes!