Widowmaker Trail on a bright, sunny day offers lots of action to watch along the river. On a hike in 2017, our group made several side trips from the trail to go watch the fun from shore, and from the bluff above the river. There were whitewater rafters, including a crew of river guides in training, river kayakers, and a whole bunch of surfers.
That day, we were able to follow the lower trail from Canoe Meadows, as the water levels were just right. After watching some kayakers navigate the slalom gates there, we went back up the riverbank and through a nice stretch of mossy forest, with wildflowers like Blue Clematis winding around spruce branches.
We discovered that a platform has been built where the surfers play in the river, a kind of viewing area with benches and a rack for holding surfboards. It’s a great spot for watching, and the surfers were a pretty friendly bunch.
At Barrier Info Centre, a park staffer was outside with a display of fox and coyote pelts, as well as some skulls and molds of animal prints. Once or twice, we also found a spot by the river where we could look at cool rocks, or just watch the river run by.
After lunch at Widowmaker Day Use area, we headed down to the area below Barrier Dam, near the transformer station. Yes, we went past the huge warning sign about water levels changing suddenly – there were apparently waterfalls to be seen down there, and we’ve never passed up a chance to go look at a waterfall. We rock-hopped over a bit of side-stream, and walked to the flats near the transformers. The falls aren’t huge; more like the bridal-veil style of fall, that spread across a rock face. After exploring around the area, we headed back to Canoe Meadows.
This fun, easy trail starts at Canoe Meadows, and wanders along the Kananaskis River all the way south to the foot of Barrier Dam. You can make it as long or short as time permits, as it has several access points: Canoe Meadows, Barrier Information Centre, Widowmaker Day Use, and Barrier Dam Day Use area.
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