Monday, November 05, 2018

Troll Falls and The Upper Falls, Family Hiking in Kananaskis

The hike to Troll Falls is one of the most popular (and easiest) hikes in all of Kananaskis. It's a cute little 3.7 km loop with a beautiful waterfall as your reward. 

Extend your hike to the Upper Falls and you'll visit a total of four separate waterfalls in a 6 km round trip outing with your kids.

One of the gorgeous waterfalls you'll visit on this hike in Kananaskis

Destination 1: Troll Falls 

For trailhead directions and a general overview of this hike please visit the Alberta Parks website where you can read all about the Troll Falls Hike.

We usually start at the Stoney Trailhead below Kananaskis Village.

From the Stoney Trailhead, the Alberta Parks website says it is a short 1.7 km hike (one way) to reach the falls. You'll be following wide multi-use trails (designated for hiking and biking in summer, cross-country skiing, hiking, and fat biking in winter) and there are signs at every junction.

If you want to use bikes, it's an easy ride to Troll Falls, but beyond that, the trail to the Upper Falls is for hiking only.

This trail is also doable with wide wheel jogging strollers like Chariots (up to Troll Falls.)

The Troll under the bridge

While the trail to Troll Falls isn't very "exciting," kids always find something interesting along the way. There's often a large tipi in the trees, and my group had fun playing in the dry creek bed under the bridge shown above. 

Tipi in the trees that the kids found 
The kids could have played here for hours

The final 0.3 km to the site of Troll Falls leaves the wide multi-use trail and you'll take a short branch trail that's too narrow for bikes. You might be able to get a stroller through, but there are lots of roots and it can be muddy in spring.

You'll get a good view of the falls from the end of the trail, but as of 2021 there is now a barrier in front of the falls to encourage people to appreciate them from afar due to rock fall safety concerns. My photo below is from pre-2021.

Troll Falls (pre-2021 when you could climb beside the falls)

From Troll Falls you can either turn around, or continue a short ways back down the trail, cross the creek, and continue to the second set of waterfalls.

This is where the true magic begins on this hike. 

Rock that looks like a troll's face beside Troll Falls

Destination 2: Marmot Falls 

From Troll Falls, hike back a short distance until you see a bridge and a junction with a sign that says "Upper Falls."

Follow the trail on the other side of the creek as it starts to climb. The trails is quite steep but there are stairs and handrails to help you. 

There is a set of stairs that takes you down to the Middle Falls (known as Marmot Falls) and then another set of stairs that takes you back up afterwards so that you can continue hiking towards the Upper Falls. It's less than a 20 minute hike to reach Marmot Falls once you leave Troll Falls.

The amazing Marmot Falls

I love this waterfall because you can walk behind the curtain of water where you'll feel the spray. The ledge is narrow so supervise young children carefully.

Standing underneath Marmot Falls 

Destination 3: Boulder Falls 

There is no sign telling you that you've reached "Boulder Falls," which is probably not an official name, but we had the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern with us, and she has labeled this waterfall as such.

Boulder Falls are located right on the trail, and thus are easy to find. They are also close to Marmot Falls, so you'll only be hiking another 10 minutes up the steep trail.

Lunch beside Marmot Creek

This set of falls is pretty small (basically just water running down through a steep canyon) but we enjoyed a lovely lunch sitting on rock slabs above the creek here.

And this is another good spot to watch young children carefully because a fall into the canyon would not end well.

Boulder Falls passes through this rocky canyon 

Not a bad spot for a lunch break!

Destination 4: The Double Falls or the "Upper Falls"

The final set of waterfalls is really two sets, the "lower" and the "upper" falls, or collectively is known as "Double Falls."

This is the end of the official trail and it's encouraged to return the same way.

This is the lower section of the Upper Falls

The Upper Section of the Upper Falls

While you could technically hike further up Marmot Creek, there's a sign telling you that you've reached the end of the trail once you reach the Upper Falls. 

From this point, you will have hiked about a kilometre (at the very most) up this trail from Troll Falls to the end. (2 km round trip.)

Late fall hiking at the Upper Falls

Hiking out Via the Hay Meadow Trail 

Return to the Troll Falls trail and rather than return straight back down the trail to the parking lot, you have the option of making a loop by returning on the Hay Meadow extension (which adds maybe a half kilometre at the very most.)

Our group of kids enjoyed playing by the river and I always find it very pretty down by the Kananaskis River.

Total time it took our gang for this hike was roughly 3 hours (at a very relaxed pace, stopping lots to play.)

Hay Meadow and the Kananaskis River

Want to return in winter?

The trail to Troll Falls is doable all winter, but you'll need good ice cleats or spikes if you want to continue to the Upper Falls. It's also not recommended beyond Troll Falls in winter with young children. Older youth will love the hike though.

Marmot Falls in winter is a magical site!


  1. I did the hike in September 2018. I was easy and the amazing waterfalls. I know about boulder falls (did not its name). Since it does not drop 10 feet I would not call it an official waterfall. It was still great hike. The Upper falls are sometime miscalled Secret Falls

    1. Glad you found the falls. It's a great hike. I didn't know the name of any of the falls either. Went by the info in Gillean Daffern's hiking guide book for the area.

  2. Just did the trail today. Like some of the improvements, however, they have now blocked off access to the troll at Troll Falls with piles of debris designed to keep everyone away from the cliffs. The poor troll is now barely visible. They also have fence railings to try to keep you in one spot. They seem convinced the cliffs are dangerous and deadly (I've never heard of any incidents, but...) Guaranteed people will be going over the railings and clambering up to see the troll like they always did. Oddly enough, when you go up to "Double Falls" you can walk right under the cliffs and behind the falls. Go figure.

    1. Hi Linda, sorry I missed your comment. I agree, it's very sad that access to the troll has been blocked off. There is a fence there now. And I don't understand the logic either. I've never heard of any incidents there. And yes, you can go right behind the next falls. And I can confirm, everybody climbs over the fence. ;)