Hikes In Castle Provincial Park, BC
With a combined area of over 105,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, Castle Provincial Park and neighbouring Castle Wildland Provincial Park offer a great expanse of Alberta terrain that is ripe for exploration by beginner and experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Having only been officially established as a provincial park in 2017, Castle is relatively new to the outdoor adventure scene and sees less foot traffic than other nearby parks, allowing you to explore its gorgeous landscapes in solitude.
With few amenities and a vast area of untapped Rocky Mountain wilderness, Castle provides the perfect destination for a remote getaway that is still relatively easy to access by car. Whether you are looking to summit an imposing peak or simply camp out and watch the unique wildlife in the area, you will certainly be able to disengage from the outside world and reconnect with nature on your next adventure in Castle Provincial Park.
The 10 Best Hikes In Castle Provincial Park
Located just 2.5h from Calgary, 1.5h from Lethbridge, and 1h from Waterton; Castle Provincial Park is close enough to several population centres to make it a popular spot for avid hikers and weekend warriors, yet remote enough to keep the large crowds of tourists at bay. With a variety of trails that range from easy to challenging, you will be sure to find the perfect adventure to match your skill level.
Featuring the stunning alpine terrain of the Canadian Rockies, picturesque meadows, vast swathes of forest, and a wide variety of wildlife species; a hiking trip to Castle will provide a nearly endless supply of memories that are just waiting to be curated. Check out this list that we’ve put together of the best hiking routes in Castle Provincial Park:
- Beauvais Lake Trail: This family-friendly route is perfect for a straightforward day on the trails, offering plenty of options to make your hike a longer or shorter adventure. With easy access from a popular recreation area, the Beauvais Lake Trail makes for a fun day of outdoor activities.
- Thunder Mountain Trail: With a bit of rugged terrain along the route, the Thunder Mountain Trail makes for a great beginner scramble in the Crowsnest area. With easy to navigate paths and stunning views, this is a great adventure that you won’t soon forget.
- Paradise Lake Trail: Easily accessible from the Castle Ski Resort, the Paradise Lake Trail is a family-friendly route that will lead you up to a stunning lakeside setting within a subalpine cirque. Surrounded by rugged peaks and mirror-like views across the water, this trail is a bucket-list adventure that you won’t want to miss out on.
- Porcupine Hills Ridge Trail: This well-maintained trail follows a rugged ridgeline and provides stunning mountain views that stretch out to the vast expanse of the nearby prairies. Located just off the Cowboy Trail in southern Alberta, this is a great trek for beginner hikers and families.
- Window Mountain Lake Trail: One of the most popular hikes in the Crowsnest region, Window Mountain Lake is a stunning destination at the end of an easy to navigate trail, making it a must-do hike if you find yourself in the area. With a number of activities around the lake, such as fishing and scrambling, this makes for a fun day out on the trails.
- Blue Lake Trail: The Blue Lake Trail features a long and steady climb uphill to a charming lake, and is frequented by different types of outdoor enthusiasts, including bikers, horseback riders, and hikers. This full-day adventure is geared more towards experienced hikers.
- South Fork Lakes Trail: This well-maintained and easy to navigate trail features a river crossing and climbs up a steep ridge to access the first of several lakes. If you are looking to push yourself a bit, you can also climb further up the rudge for a stunning vantage point overlooking the majestic bodies of water.
- North Drywood Falls: This easy trail is well-suited for beginner hikers and families that are looking for a bit of fun out on the trail. Following the well-signed and maintained pathways, you will make your way to a lovely waterfall that is the perfect location for an afternoon picnic.
- Yarrow Ridge: This amazing double lollipop loop will see you traverse some technical stretches of terrain that will require a bit of light scrambling, making for a fun day of ridgeline hiking.
- Trail of Seven Bridges: Most commonly used as a multi-use trail for OHV users, this route is also used by hikers. After working through the forest and crossing over several streams, you will experience some amazing views as you gain elevation along the trail.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Castle Provincial Park?
With a number of trails that are accessible year-round, there is no definitive answer on when the best time is to hike in Castle Provincial Park; however, this obviously depends on a variety of factors, including your experience level and tolerance for exposure to the elements. If you are looking to experience the park when the weather is the most favourable, try planning your hike for the summer months (June-September) when the snow has left the trails and conditions are dry enough to fully explore the vast stretch of wilderness.
Other Outdoor Activities in Castle Provincial Park
When combined with the adjacent Castle Wildland Provincial Park to the south, Castle Provincial Park offers over 105,000 hectares of wilderness that can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, no matter the season. Whether you are looking to hike, backpack, and scramble your way through the mountains in the summer, explore the snow covered trails by snowshoe and cross-country ski in the winter, or sit by the lake during either season on a relaxing fishing expedition; you can rest assured that there is no shortage of fun activities and memorable experiences that await you in the wilds of Castle Provincial Park.
How to Plan a Trip to Castle Provincial Park
As a recently established Provincial Park, Castle might seem like a daunting place to plan your next hiking adventure. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a guide that will help you in Planning a Trip to Alberta’s Castle Provincial Park. From accommodations near the park, to travel times and amazing activities; we’ve done most of the leg work so that you can focus on exploring the outdoors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Castle Provincial Park
How far is Castle Provincial Park from Calgary?
Located in the southwestern corner of Alberta, Castle Provincial Park is approximately 225.0 km from Calgary, which makes for a 2.5 hour drive.
Can you random/wilderness camp in Castle Provincial Park?
Wilderness camping is not permitted within Castle Provincial Park; however, it is permitted within neighbouring Castle Wildlands Provincial Park.
Best Hikes in Castle Provincial Park
Beauvais Lake Trail
Hiking the Beauvais Lake trail is a great way to spend a half day with the family. The trail is straightforward and has many alternate options that allow you to shorten or lengthen the distance. You will start and end at a popular day use area that has plenty of amenities. Enjoy a day out with the family in the Beauvais Lake area.
Thunder Mountain Scramble
Thunder Mountain is an excellent beginner to intermediate scramble in the Crowsnest region. This is a great choice if you are driving down from Calgary or making your way north from Crowsnest or Waterton. The trail is easy to follow and isn’t too challenging. The views are astounding from the summit, and making your way down is simple.
Paradise Lake Trail
Paradise Lake Trail is a bucket-list route from Castle Ski Resort. It is a family-friendly trail that leads to a beautiful blue lake in a subalpine cirque. Haig Ridge towers above the lake, making for a dramatic scene and a beautiful reflection if you arrive on a still, clear day. This trail is a great option for all abilities when visiting the Castle Ski Resort area in the summer.
Porcupine Hills Ridge Trail
Porcupine Hills Ridge Trail is a well-maintained hike off of the Cowboy Trail in southern Alberta. This beautiful ridge offers an excellent vantage point towards surrounding peaks as well as the nearby prairies. This is a great trail for families and beginner to intermediate hikers.
Window Mountain Lake Trail
One of Crowsnest’s most popular hikes, Window Mountain Lake is a must-do in the area. It is a beautiful destination at the end of an easy to follow trail. Starting on a rough road, the trail is wide and clear. It later becomes a narrow path that takes a steep route up to the lake. The lake itself is a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing and fishing. There are scramble options from the lake as well.
Blue Lake Trail
The Blue Lake trail is a longer trail with steady, gradual elevation gain to a subalpine lake. It is a beautiful multi-use trail near Pincher Creek. Commonly used by horseback riders, bikers, and hikers, the Blue Lake trail is a full day outing for intermediate to advanced hikers.
South Fork Lakes Trail
The trail to South Fork Lakes is easy to find and requires a river crossing almost immediately. The trail follows a steep ridge to the first lake and later comes to the others. A ridge rises above the lakes creating an excellent viewpoint if you are up to the challenge. This trail is simple to follow and signed well.
North Drywood Falls Trail
North Drywood Falls is an easy hike that is recommended for all abilities. Beginner and intermediate hikers and those with families will find this to be an excellent choice. The trail is easy to follow and leads to a small waterfall with space to rest. Plan a picnic lunch and set up near the falls for an enjoyable afternoon before returning to the trailhead.
Yarrow Ridge is a stunning double lollipop loop that leads up a cutline to a ride. The ridge features various high points and makes for an interesting traverse before turning back and creating the lollipop. Some small technical sections with easy scrambling appear on this route, so be prepared for some hands-on moments.
Trail of Seven Bridges
The Trail of Seven Bridges is more popular with OHV users as it is a multi-use trail. You will run into cyclists, dirtbikes, and quads on this trail. It follows an OHV route through the forest crossing several streams. Views open up as you gain elevation to the viewpoint at the end where you turn around. This is quite a long hike that despite the lack of visitors may be noisy with motorized vehicles.
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Other Activities in Castle Provincial Park
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