Our primary motivation in dragging unenthusiastic K to Marble Canyon after spending most of a day exploring for Burgess Shale fossils near Stanley Glacier was to collect the information needed to log the Marble Canyon earthcache. During our 30 minute walk along the Marble Canyon interpretive trail, we quickly realized that this stop holds broad appeal: fascinating geology, impressive waterfalls, a landscape recovering from a massive forest fire and the chance to stand in a cool mist spray on a hot summer day.
The trailhead is at the Marble Canyon parking lot, 89 km north of Radium Hot Springs/18 km southwest of Castle Junction along Highway 93S.
The trail is about 800 meters (875 yards) one-way. It’s broad and (mostly) paved, with 6 or 7 footbridges that cross the narrow canyon. In terms of accessibility, there is one long set of stairs (about 40 steps) plus a couple of small flights of 5 – 8 steps each. There’s fencing along the trail to help keep visitors safe, but parents will want to keep a close eye on their young ones.
The primary geological force at work here is erosion. The silt-laden waters of Tokumm Creek have sculpted a 40+ meter deep gorge through limestone and dolomite. Beginning at the trailhead, there’s a series of informative signs that explain how the canyon has changed over the past 14,000 years. The uppermost bridge and lookout offer impressive views of the creek and the surrounding landscape. Part way along the trail, one sign points out a rock bridge that survived the forces of water erosion.
If you’re driving along Highway 93S and need to stretch your legs, this is a great place to stop. We’re already planning to make a return visit once Parks Canada starts offering a guided hike to the Marble Canyon Burgess Shale fossil site. NOTE – we have no idea when this will happen, as a new trail has to be constructed to access the recently discovered site. Security cameras are already in place.