Turquoise, glacial waters and the deep gorge grow more impressive the further up Marble Canyon you get. The hike is fairly short with multiple small bridges spanning over the narrow gorge giving you excellent views of the glacier waters below. The surrounding landscape is shaped by fire, erosion, and mountains. I cannot believe I have lived in Alberta for 3 years and not visited this stunning location before.
We decided to go to Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park on Victoria long weekend. The gorge is on fairly low elevation and a great spring outing as the snow melts early here. You’ll find the parking lot for the interpretive trail south-east of Lake Louise via Vermillion Pass on highway 93. By the way, if you stop at Vermillion Pass you can grab a selfie at the Continental Divide sign (hydrological divide where water flows either to the Atlantic or Pacific ocean).
On July 31, 2003 lightning started five fires in Kootenay National Park that turned into one of the largest wildfires in the Canadian Rockies, burning 17,000 hectares. It was called the ‘Holy Sh–’ fire. In the aftermath the fire has led to some positive environmental changes for the ecosystem in the national park. Scientist believe that by 2018 the burned area will be prime grizzly bear habitat and better for moose. A Northern Hawk Owl that thrives in post-burn conditions have settled in the part and Fireweed, a brilliant pink flower, has also popped up throughout the burned area.
As we hiked the trail I couldn’t stop admiring the surrounding landscape shaped by the fire. Tall scorched trees were still standing, but the forest floor was covered with small pines trees. The area felt so green, different from Banff and Lake Louise where the forest is very dense and there is little growth on the forest floor.
Along the trail interpretive signs explained how Tokumm Creek has slowly cut and carved its way through the limestone over thousands of years creating Marble Canyon. This would be a great geology lesson to bring your kid to – and for us grown-ups in need of a geology refresher as well.
When we got to the end of the trail we were rewarded with beautiful views of the Tokumm Fall. There is a bridge crossing the creek just before the fall so you get to see and photograph the fall from all angles.
The trail ended at the fall, but it looked like it would be a great wilderness experience continuing along Tokumm Creek further into the valley. We were however headed for the Paint Pots next and turned back after a small photo session at the falls. In the end the hike around the interpretive trail turned out to be about 1.7km, but is must have been the slowest 1.7km hike in history as I constantly stopped for pictures.
Tip: If you want to get some great photos of the fall it is a good idea to get here early to avoid people in the frame. We got in around mid-day and it was pretty crowded. At this time the light was also getting to bright, but there is still light getting down to the canyon. In the afternoon I think the canyon would be mostly in the shadows.
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