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Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge

It’s not really a hidden gem, but since sharing about the Kananaskis Country suspension bridge this summer (2020) on social media, I’ve heard from a lot of people who live near or frequent the area, that they hadn’t realized the bridge existed! But this suspension bridge is not a secret! 

The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge has its own Google Maps marker and is listed on the popular AllTrails. It’s beautiful and easy to get to, making it a must-visit for casual Rocky Mountain adventurers like myself. 

Below are photos from my summer visit to both the Blackshale Suspension Bridge and Kananaskis Lake, which you’ll pass on your way in or out to the bridge, plus more tips and information for when you go! 

I always have so much fun with my Canmore adventure friends James and Ashleigh, and their pack of adventure animals (including famous adventure cat Great Grams of Gary) and I know you’ll have fun visiting this suspension bridge too (even without an adventure cat in tow lol). 

Where is the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge?
The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge is located in Kananaskis Country near Canmore, Alberta, on the eastern slopes of the beautiful Canadian Rockies. 

From Calgary, the bridge is about 1.5 hours drive south west.
From Canmore, the bridge is about 1 hour south east.
(Kananaskis Country is between Canmore and Calgary).
From Edmonton, you’re looking at about 4 hours.
It’s an easy day trip from Calgary (and Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise area) but I’m assuming if you’re coming from Edmonton you would be planning a stay overnight in the area (I’d recommend the Coast Canmore Hotel, which I’ve blogged / partnered with before—you can check out more details about the lovely hotel in my 2019 blog post here. They’ve got some fall 2020 promos they shared with me that may be of interest for visitors too! Not sponsored, just helpful lol). 

There are several provincial parks located within Kananskis Country including Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Bow Valley Provincial Park, and Sheep River Provincial Park. The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge sits within Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. 

How do you get to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge?

I mean, you just need to put it into Google Maps and you’re set, lol. This isn’t a difficult bridge to access.

You can get exact coordinates from AllTrails, which describes the suspension bridge as part of “an easy, but heavily trafficked 1 km loop trail” (if you don’t want to take the bridge as a detour). 

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is located along the Smith Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) and is actually part of something called the High Rockies Trail.

The High Rockies Trail is a more intense, 80 km trail that cuts through those three provincial parks I mentioned. Much of the region is forest. The rail is popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers and in some sections, skiers. It would be a non-casual adventurer trail.

We casual adventurers can stick with the suspension bridge and the 1 km loop (or even just the bridge itself, no loop lol). You do have to hike up a short distance (a few minutes) to get to the bridge but it’s very doable. 

When is the best time to go to the Blackshale Suspension Bridge?
We visited the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge on August Long Weekend (2020) and it was EMPTY! 

But how?! 

Well, a very big thunderstorm had just finished up and it was almost sunset (around 8 p.m.) lol.

So I’ve been jokingly telling people to watch for rain and as it’s raining, drive out. Ha ha. 

But honestly, to avoid the crowds your best bet is to visit early in the morning or later in the evening. And weekdays would naturally be quieter. We also intentionally planned an evening adventure so we could sleep in, so it just depends on what your early rising / adventure preference is. 

If you want a nice Instagrammable photo, you’ll definitely want to avoid the crowds so I was *thrilled* that no one else was around when we visited! If there are other people there when you arrive, please be courteous if their Instagrammable needs (and hopefully others will be courteous of yours!) 

According to AllTrails, the suspension bridge is closed during the winter and you aren’t allowed to snowshoe across it, so it’s definitely more of a spring, summer, fall experience. 

Other tips for your Blackshale Suspension Bridge adventure:
There is no service in Kananaskis Country!!! 

I repeat, there is no service in Kananaskis Country!!!! lol. 

Your Google Maps should still function without service because, well I don’t know how Google does it but I’m grateful it does. Just in case, you could zoom in and screenshot the directions / general route before you start driving into Kananaskis Country.

But expect to save your actual social media posts for after the adventure (which is fine and probably is a good thing that it forces you to be somewhat in the moment and really enjoy the stunning surroundings). 

I’ve mostly shared the following tips throughout this post but to summarize:

Go early morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds.
Don’t take TOO long to get your Instagrammable pics if others are around—be respectful of time.
You can bring your dog (or adventure cat), they just need to be leashed.
Have your photographer take photos on the bridge with you, but also off the bridge at a side angle.
Wear comfy shoes! I’ve learned even as a casual mountain adventurer, comfy shoes are so important and only just this year I finally invested in a pair of KEEN Canada hiking shoes/sandals.
You won’t find much for food in the area, so plan for your meal before/after in Canmore.
Don’t go in the winter—the bridge won’t be open.
There is no service, so be prepared for that.
If you’re more than a casual adventurer, you could plan a whole day of hikes in Kananaskis Country! 

If you’re a casual adventurer like me, this may be your big adventure for the day and that is A-OK!

But you should also add a dip at Lower Kananaskis Lake on your way out, which is what we did! Don’t forget to visit Lower Kananaskis Lake!
There are two big lakes in Kananaskis Country—Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. 

On your way in or out of the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge, you’ll drive past Lower Kananaskis Lake! 

With our 8 p.m. bridge adventure timing, the sun was setting and we were treated to stunning pink and purple sky as we were leaving the bridge. Thanks to excited yells by Ashleigh, James pulled over and we got to watch the sun set and go for a sunset swim in Lower Kananaskis Lake. An amazing memory!

With amazing photos…!!!

I highly recommend planning a swim / visit to Lower Kananaskis Lake since you’re going to be in the area!
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