When someone tells you about a sweet waterfall in the Rocky Mountains, what comes to mind first?
Busses? Crowds? Parking fees?
Or, worst of all… selfie sticks!?
Well, stress not my little travelling buddy. The Blaeberry Valley is where you want to be and the antithesis of tourist-havens that our amazing Parks can sometimes be. Just outside of Golden, follow the Blaeberry River as it winds up a massive valley deep into the hear of the Rocky Mountains and away from all those lame-o things you want to get away from.
To cut your teeth, I’ll let you in on a little secret. A waterfall cutting through a slot canyon so distorted and violent that you can’t help but stare dumbfounded into the churning carnage. Thompson Falls is a short drive up the unpaved Blaeberry Forest Service M Road attainable by any car, truck or moped. Once at the turn off, park your car on the road or take the access road to get a bit closer, but beware of the ruts and bumps (it is a dirt road after all).
At the first parking area will be the canyon. Best seen at low water, but rad anytime, the river has a quick elevation drop through crazy looking stone blocks full of even crazier patterns of erosion. Neature!
Head on back to the parking area and continue down the access road for a few hundred feet. Follow the river and the noise. Hold your kids, leash your dog and stay out of the water, just below you is Thompson Falls proper and you really don’t want to fall in. Enjoy the views from the rocks and feel the force of falls below you.
If you’re feeling like a sack of dumplings because of the long haul from Edmonton filled with Ice Capps and Cheezies, ditch the car and take a hike. Syd’s Trail takes you 6km up the right side of the river to the falls. Just past the IOB campground you will see a short dirt road that brings you to the river and the trail. It’s even a great bike ride, if you’re into that kind of thing. (Golden hikes trail information)
Photo: Abby Cooper
If you feel like exploring the canyon after the falls, head back to your car and continue up river on the Blaeberry FSR M Road. Take a left across the river at about 11km and then backtrack to 7km and you will park at the canyon across from your first view point. The trail follows the right side of the river and canyon while walking down river. Remember, this isn’t a park. Signage and safety fences are non-existent. Don’t be a dummy and stay back from the edges. If you need to, I give you permission to use your selfie stick to get a better angle.
To get to the Blaeberry, head west from Golden for 12km and turn right onto Moberly Brand Road. Follow this to a T intersection and turn left onto Golden Donald Upper Road. This road follows a big right hand bend and splits. Stay right and follow Oberg Johnson Road to a T intersection. Turn left onto Moberly School Road and then trend right onto Blaeberry Road. This gravel road brings you to the unmarked IOB Campground and the Blaeberry River. Continue up the right side of the river to find Thompson Falls and Syd’s Trail.
*Enjoy all our beautiful hikes and campgrounds but remember to pack out what you pack in so that it is just a beautiful for the next person.