Pocaterra Cirque

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2-2.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
6.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
262 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
10.0
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Pocaterra Cirque

Pocaterra Cirque may often be passed up for other nearby, well-known hikes, but this little gem is the perfect way to enjoy mountain views with little effort. Passing by Pocaterra Tarn, the trail gives wonderful views of Mount Tyrwhitt, Grizzly Col, and Mount Rae. However, its popularity increases during larch season, so prepare for crowds and a full parking lot. The beauty of the larches makes up for the crowds, though.

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Route Description for Pocaterra Cirque

While there might be some route finding required at the start of this trail, it’ll be worth the hassle. There are several different hikes that start in the same area and there isn’t sufficiently clear signage for each. We recommend using GPS to ensure you’re on the right track. The trail also has some wet, deep mud in spots that could be messy even if it hasn’t rained very recently. Consider an extra pair of socks! It also gets very busy during autumn, thanks to the abundance of larch trees lighting up the trail, so come early if you plan to hike in late September or October.

This hike is gorgeous without too much effort required to enjoy it. From the mountain views to the pristine lake and golden larches in the fall, it’s a perfect half-day out. The trailhead for Pocaterra Cirque begins from the Highwood Pass parking lot. Most people here will be heading to Ptarmigan Cirque or Pocaterra Ridge, so take care not to follow the crowds. You’ll start out on the same trail as Ptarmigan Cirque for 300 m before a twinned dirt trail appears and heads left, with a sign reminding you to stay on-trail at the intersection. Take the left-hand trail. You’ll pass a large boulder before entering the trees and starting to gain elevation. About 160 m from this point, the trail veers sharply left. Ignore the various false trails and continue on in a generally southward direction—if you find yourself heading east, you’ve accidentally taken the Highwood Ridge trail.

You’ll eventually break out of the trees and cross a small creek. Once you’re just over 2.0 km from the parking lot, you should be reaching Pocaterra Tarn. This is a nice spot for a quick break with views of Mount Rae and Mount Arethusa. After the tarn, the trail starts to climb towards a grassy area. You’ll see a cairn at a fork in the trail, so take care to head left here (right goes to Pocaterra Ridge). After 450 m, you’ll reach another fork. Continue right/straight.

From here, the trail to the cirque is clear. Enjoy views of Mount Tyrwhitt, Mount Pocaterra, and Pocaterra Ridge behind you. Enjoy! Continue back the way you came to return to the parking lot.

Insider Hints for Pocaterra Cirque

  • The parking at Highwood Pass can fill up quickly on the weekend, so try to get there early if you can or be prepared to park along the highway
  • With so many trails in the area, you could easily do this as an extension/addition to another, like Arethusa Cirque, Ptarmigan Cirque, or Pocaterra Ridge
  • The cirque can have snow until well into the summer, so consider bringing microspikes or poles in case the trail is slippery.
  • This is a great hike to enjoy larches in the fall
  • If you’re craving more adventure, extend your hike with hiking the Grizzly Col Ridge once you reach the end of the Pocaterra Cirque trail. It doesn’t add too much time to your hike, and the views go from stunning to incredibly epic!

Getting to the Pocaterra Cirque Trailhead

From Calgary, head west on Highway 1. Take the exit for Highway 40 and continue for 67.0 km until you reach the Highwood Pass parking lot. Note that this section of Highway 40 is closed from December 1-June 15 each year.

Route Information

  • When to do

    July-October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Pocaterra Cirque Elevation Graph

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Pocaterra Cirque Reviews

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