Black Prince Lakes and Cirque hike
The hike to Black Prince Cirque and then Black Prince Lakes is stunning. This hike takes you to a classic Kananaskis cirque and then the beautiful Black Prince Lakes. It’s hard to believe so few people take the time to hike up to Black Prince Lakes and Black Prince Cirque.
From the Stoney Nakoda Casino on the TransCanada, take Highway 40 south for 31.1mi to the winter gate, and turn right onto the Kananaskis Lakes Trail (Highway 742). After 1.4mi turn right again on the Smith Dorrien Trail, which is the continuation of Highway 742. Follow this road for 5.2mi and take the signed left turn for Mount Black Prince and follow this to the parking lot.
|When to do|
June to September
Out and back
Black Prince Lakes and Cirque
Route Description for Black Prince Lakes and Cirque
This is another great, and underappreciated, hike in the Kananaskis.
To begin with, take the clear and signed path out of the parking lot. This is a well-made trail, and easy to make good time. In about 1.2mi you will reach Warspite Lake. In the early summer this is a beautiful lake, however it quickly dries up. You can see our photos from mid-August and the water is almost all gone!
At Warspite Lake contour around the right-hand side of the lake. The path is clear, however it can be muddy if it’s been wet recently. Later in the year the path is drier, and the streams are easily crossed, however earlier in summer the streams get bigger and the trail can get muddier.
At the end of Warspite Lake, follow the clear path as generally follows Warspite Creek. You’re aiming for a waterfall in the far left-hand side of the valley. The trail goes straight and then curves over (and up) beside the waterfall.
As you hike towards the waterfall, you have to go over a boulder field. The path isn’t clear over the boulder field, though there are some cairns.
Once over the boulder field the route starts to climb, gaining elevation as it climbs a steep slope. You come right beside the pretty waterfall before emerging from the trees into Black Prince Cirque. The view here is surprisingly great.
While the trail looks like it goes straight up the valley, Black Prince Lakes are actually up ahead and on the right. Follow the trail as you come through some more rocks, but lookout for a trail that goes off on the right and then take it.
The trail sticks close to the edge of the forest (the forest is on your right) before a path leads up on your right, going up steeply. The path swings to the left over some rocks before swinging back to the right and providing great views of Black Prince Lakes. If there is a lot of water then Black Prince Lakes will look like one singular lake, like it does in our photos.
You can walk along the ridge, though the large boulders make it tricky. We continued to the end of the ridge, where we were stopped by a steep descent that was too tricky for us.
Return the way you came, being very careful on the descents, which are tricky and can be very challenging if wet.
Check out other amazing hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien:
We would not recommend hiking up to Black Prince Cirque or the Lakes if it is wet out or there is snow on the ground.
We’ve been turned around before by Grizzly bears in the valley past Warspite Lake. Best to do this hike in a group.
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