Snake Indian Falls

July 19, 2014
Canada Parks Day, once again I found myself in Jasper completing the North Boundary trail in search of Snake Indian Falls.  Just like the last two years, I would attempt the trip via mountain bike, and just like last year I would bring a friend to help with the 26.5Km journey.

Last year we decided to stop at the Shalebanks campground, having spent all of our energy, and not knowing what the route back would take out of us.  This year we pushed ourselves beyond the river and would explore new terrain once more, always inching closer to what we desire.  Little did we know what was in store for us.

The metal horses
This time around, unlike the last two years, we started much later than normal.  A few factors came into play with this; however one I could have avoided and would have saved myself an hour is the Celestine Road.  As there are time restrictions on this one way fire road; divided up one hour in and one hour out, I've taken the liberty to table these here.  Hopefully you can plan your trip around this time scheme.

Please note this road requires high-clearance/off-road vehicles. 


Just like every other time I would highly suggest camping out at Celestine Lake (5.2Km) as it's a short but grueling first distance of the trip to the waterfalls.  Camping and completing a trip from this point will reduce the trip's first greatest difficulty as the first 2 kilometers are forcing you to climb a mountain side in some of the highest elevation you will face.  Although there are other camp sites, such as the Shalebanks and Seldom Inn.

For someone looking to do this as a day trip, and for any reason would like to know "halfway", I would recommend the Shalebanks be your guide.  Though the campsite isn't mathematically half of the 26.5 you'll face, it is the point where you will face the next big task and will spend the other half of your energy.  For all intense of purpose I claim this as the halfway marker, as once you've crossed that creek you will enter the next phase of the journey.

On top of the world - boys became men
Up until you reach this creek crossing you are pretty much head down in the trees, unable to see the river in the canyon below.  There will be the occasional clearing where you can see (what seems like) all the mountains in Jasper National Park.  For someone looking to complete the trip in a day, you will be wise to avoid spending too much time prior to the creek crossing.  That said I did start out filming the trip, however as I've mentioned here one would be wise not to exert too much time or energy when seeking a day trip.

Stepping foot in the creek makes you think you've just gone back 3-4 months and fell through Bow Lake in the winter.  The water is frigid cold, and on the way in we were put off by needing to wade in the water to cross with our metal horses.  Although, on the way back, we lacked the energy to care and the water seemed more refreshing that dampening to our spirits.

On the other side of that creek is a challenging hill, not like the first sets, however a challenge nonetheless.  More importantly this hill ends abruptly and you are going downhill for a good 6-8 kilometers.  On the way towards Snake Indian, that would seem great, however you need to face that head-on on the way back.  Let me be the first to say, it isn't as big of a climb as at the beginning, however the real challenge is enduring its grueling torture for so long.

Once you make it to the next unmistakable camp site (Seldom Inn) you only have 1.5 Kilometers left on your trip.  This may be the biggest uplifting thing that we could have received this day, even though we didn't use the camp site it marked our proximity to the waterfall.  I could finally taste how close I was after so many years of attempting this trail in a day.

Snake Indian Falls has to be the most powerful waterfall I've come across in Alberta's Rockies, let alone Jasper.  This made the trip worth all the effort, as such a powerful waterfall sits at the end symbolizing the power and effort needed to day trip this trail.  Do not take this trip lightly as the amount of effort needed to complete this in a day is more than I could have even imagined.
At 5'11'' Sacha inspects Snake Indian Falls