Photo Credit: Morgan Hite
Equity Ice Falls
Equity Ice Falls is easily Houston’s most popular snowshoe destination. Its short distance from town, its relative ease and an impressive ice spectacle make the place a must-see for the winter wanderer.
The falls are not much to look at in summer: just a trickle of water helps keep the cliff face wet. However, this small stream doesn’t stop flowing in winter and slowly freezes, resulting in spectacular ice formations. The area around the falls is a high-elevation plateau featuring broken ground, cliff faces and dense forest. It feels like a subalpine winter wonderland and can have an enormous snowpack.
The falls are located 17 km from Houston’s famous fly rod. From the centre of town, head east on Highway 16 and turn right on Butler Avenue. The road turns left to become Riverbank Drive. Then turn right onto Omineca Way. After a short distance, you will reach Equity Mine Road on your left. Head up this road for 14.75 km. The Equity Ice Falls trailhead is on your left, and the Dungate Falls trailhead is farther up the road on your right. Both are signed. If you reach the Husky Forest Service Road, you’ve gone too far. The trail to the icefalls is an easy one and great for the whole family. Only 717 metres long, it offers a gradual climb to near the base of the falls. It takes you through a variety of forest types, but most impressive are the large balsams along the trail. The trail goes over some variable terrain and winds in and amongst the trees. For those that love geo-caching, take your GPS, as you may find some surprises along the way. The last 100 m is the steepest section.
Popping out of the trees, you get your first look at the icefalls. Standing at over 20 m tall and hanging from the cliff’s edge, the falls form out of a horizontal crack in the rock. Large ice daggers hang down like fingers reaching for the ground. The sound of trickling water echoes from behind the ice in utter defiance of the winter chill. It’s
an impressive sight. The base of the falls offers a great place to stop and eat lunch. The more adventurous come here to ice climb and rappel off of the icy tower. Use caution around the falls and watch for falling ice, especially later in the season when the sun throws its heat on the south-facing cliffs.
A few hundred metres farther up the Equity Mine Road is Dungate Falls. It’s a short trail and makes for a nice spot to stop when out for a drive. The waterfall is best viewed in spring when meltwaters are at their peak. The waterfall dwindles in size later in the year.
For more information about the trail, visit houstonhikers.ca.