Mid 70's. Patchy sunshine and clouds with a short rainstorm.
Useful links: www.alltrails.com
The Full Report:
Mistaya Canyon is a deep narrow canyon that has been carved by the Mistaya River. It is easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway and is a .6-mile round trip walk from the parking lot. There are a few other trails that allow you to access more of the backcountry and I chose to venture up Mt. Sarbach and explore the canyon upon return.
Signage is good, and the trail was easy to follow for the first 2/3 of my journey with the trail meandering through the forest while gaining elevation at a steady but not steep pace. The trail comes to a head at a great lookout with enough clearing in the trees to see the surrounding landscape. The trail continues beyond the viewpoint for about a half mile and then devolves into an obvious steep uphill climb to the ridgeline.
People have constructed cairns but by this point, the forest had dropped away and the objective was clear. It would be hard to get lost at this point. The intensity was well worth it. The ridgeline drops away sharply on the west side offering awesome views into the interior. The massive size of the landscape is hard to imagine, and it is put into perspective with nearly 270 views along the ridgeline.
Some small dark clouds were on the horizon, so I didn't linger long while eating my snacks. The return journey was complicated slightly by the rain, but I chose to bushwhack straight down the mountain which saved me time by intersecting the trail further down the mountain. By the time I reached the canyon the sun had come out and it was patchy blue sky and white fluffy clouds.
The area immediately around the canyon is worth exploring. The trail crosses the river at the mouth of the canyon offering great photo ops of the surrounding landscape and the entrance to the canyon. There is one spot worth finding where the canyon becomes so narrow you can stand on one side and reach out and touch the other. It takes mild bravery as you are about 100 ft above the rushing water. Mistaya Canyon is well worth the stop; either as a roadside attraction or a longer day adventure.