Distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: 460 m View map Download GPS track
The Canyon Creek Ice Cave is a fairly deep cave sandwiched between Prairie and Moose Mountains. Its depths maintain a fairly cold temperature year round and as a result some pretty large and fascinating ice formations have developed. We've been a bit interested in seeing these for ourselves, but its valley-bottom approach meant we wouldn't be wasting a good day to do so. With more cloud and flurries forecast toady, however, we figured it'd be a good exercise hike and set off early, starting the hike just before sunrise.
Unfortunately the hike, at least in the winter, involves a 6 km trudge along a well-plowed but icy road before the 1 km ascent to the cave even begins. This was unbelievably boring and exceedingly hard on every joint below the waist. We easily found the point where the trail left the road to ascend to the caves, but shortly afterward the trail forked into at least a half dozen other trails. We had a terrible time navigating through this trail mess and loose rock before most of the trails converged just below the cave opening. Things got briefly interesting here as a family of four goats watched us from a ledge near the cave, then got much more interesting when another one came charging past me as I entered the cave. We'd accidentally cornered him in the cave and he was desperate to get out.
The cave itself was somewhat interesting, but I think I'm more of a mountain-top kind of guy. Being completely surrounded by rock was rather boring and the dust and droppings made the air taste a bit funny, so after a short exploration we retreated and made our own way back to the road, ignoring most trails we passed by. Another 6 km trudge then brought us back to the car, but not before we passed a few dozen others hiking (walking?) along the road. Perhaps I missed something, but it boggles my mind why anyone would do this hike. It ranks in the top 5 worst hikes I've ever done!