As our kids get older, we can embark on more and more adventurous activities. One of those activities: cliff jumping at Horseshoe Lake, has been on our Jasper bucket list for ages but the trail isn’t exactly toddler-friendly, and neither is the freezing cold water from the natural cliffs created in the horseshoe-shaped lake.
Cliff and Ledge Jumping at Horseshoe Lake
This weekend, we finally had the chance to visit the lake and trudged a toddler into the short, five-minute walk from the parking area to the lake. It has been a rainy season, so parts of the trail were completely under water, making it a bit of a tricky walk. Before venturing into the lake, you should know that the trail is short, but not well established, and so there’s quite a bit of dodging trees on it.
After the quick five minute walk, you’ve got two options. You can wade across a shallow portion of the lake to the opposite site of the Lake, or you can skip that and jump from the left hand side, closest to the parking lot. We suggest making your way across the water – again, tricky if you’re adventuring with a toddler.
There, you’ll find a variety of cliff sizes to jump off of, from small kid-friendly versions, just a few feet off of the ground, to larger, higher, cliffs that are popular with adults in the area. Almost as much fun as jumping off, is watching everyone else jump off of the cliffs.
What should you bring with you?
- Life jackets. Even children that are proficient swimmers may be a little shocked by the temperate of the water – bring a life jacket to make it easier for them to swim back and climb up on to the rocks.
- Pool float. There’s plenty of room at the lake, beyond the cliff jumping and you might just want to enjoy it on the water, as it’s more comfortable than perching cliffside. Bring in a float on the trail.
- Insect repellant. You’re in a lake in the middle of the woods and you’re likely to get eaten alive – don’t skip this one.
- Sandals, or water shoes – leave the flip flops at home. The trail can be tricky to navigate even at the best of time, harder-so with flip flops.
What ages of kids can cliff jump at Horseshoe Lake? This one is tricky. Our two year old was able to navigate most of the pathway to get over to the cliffs and ledges, but was too young to jump in the water. Rather, she found a ledge that was ankle deep and played nearby with an adult. Our recommendation for this Jasper adventure is kids aged 6+ who are adventurous, and willing to jump off even the smallest of ledges.
It goes without being said, take steps to be safe while jumping. Make sure the water is deep enough, use floatation devices, only jump from heights that they (and you) are comfortable with. Our kids have both been through seasons of diving, so they were comfortable jumping from the higher ledges. There were many smaller, 4-5 feet, ledges for kids to safely jump in, as well.
When should you visit? Cliff Jumping at Horseshoe Canyon is best saved for hot, sweltering days, because the water is so cold. Even our kids, that are used to cold water beach days, needed a few minutes to warm up before jumping in again.
You can find Horseshoe Lake just under thirty kilometres from Jasper, on Highway 93, the same way that you would venture to Athabasca Falls. If you’ve hit Athabasca Falls, turn around – you’ve gone too far. Though there are no signs from the road, the parking lot and cars parked on the shoulder will give away the spot, and once you enter the parking lot, you’ll see the Horseshoe Lake sign.