Featuring breathtaking views, uncrowded trails, and unspoiled wilderness as far as the eye can see, Castle Provincial Park is the perfect spot to plan your next hike. Below we highlight 5 of our favorite hikes in the area, varying in distances, elevation gain, and hiking ability.
BEAVER MINES LAKE – BEGINNER
Distance: 4.2 KM (return) Elevation Gain: 92 M
With Table Mountain looming over the lake, enjoy this scenic hike around Beaver Mines Lake. This hike is easily accessible from the Beaver Mines Lake Campground and the popular day-use area. This trail is perfect for families with young children just getting their legs under them.
HAIG LAKE LOOP – INTERMEDIATE
Distance: 8.4 KM (return) Elevation Gain: 466 M
Right in our backyard, this stunning trail makes use of a combination of narrow, winding ski trails, historical, exploration cut-lines, and single track to ultimately arrive at Haig Lake. Hiking to Haig Lake is best done by using a combination of the Haig Lake South and North trails.
We recommended to start with the Haig Lake South trail as your “up route” due to a slightly more gradual incline, out of the base area. This is thanks, in large part, to the abundance of switchbacks found on the lower third of the trail, as you follow our summer maintenance road under the Huckleberry Chairlift. If you can endure the lower third of this trail then you will make it to the lake!
Once you reach the lake, and have an opportunity to take it all in, make your way back to the base area via the Haig Lake North trail. Winter enthusiasts will note that much of this trail follows the winter trail known as “Cinch Traverse” and offers stunning views of Barnaby Ridge / Southfork Mountain as you return back to the base area. Keep your eyes peeled for bear grass earlier in the summer and huckleberries in the late summer period!
SOUTHFORK LAKES – INTERMEDIATE / DIFFICULT
Distance: 12.2 KM (return) Elevation Gain: 697 M
One of the more well-maintained and well trafficked hikes in Castle Provincial Park, Southfork Lakes trail offers breathtaking views of Castle Mountain Resort, Mount Haig, and Syncline Mountain almost the whole way up to the lakes. For those that are willing / able to endure the reasonably abrupt elevation gain, this one is a gooder!
The highlight of the journey are undoubtedly the Southfork Lakes themselves, a chain of 3 small shimmering gems nestled just east of Barnaby Ridge / Southfork Mountain. Allegedly there are golden trout in here, much to the delight of those looking to fish. The lakes also offer a popular overnight camping destination for those willing to hike with the extra weight. Don’t forget, if you pack it in, pack it out.
YORK CREEK PLANE CRASH – INTERMEDIATE / DIFFICULT
Distance: 20.3 KM (return) Elevation Gain: 684 M
The York Creek Plane Crash trail is a captivating and adventurous trail that combines nature’s beauty with a historical touch. The highlight of the trail is the wreckage of a vintage aircraft, a 1946 Royal Canadian Air Force Dakota, scattered among the rugged terrain at the base of Mount Coulthard. Great views of Mount Coulthard, and it’s hanging valley, are also worth the trek.
This trail is a shared-use path with off highway vehicles (quads and side-by-sides) so be sure to be on the look out for other trail users.
TABLE MOUNTAIN – DIFFICULT
Distance: 10 KM (return) Elevation Gain: 832 M
While the hike is on the shorter side, the Table Mountain trail ascends steeply, leading you through rocky terrain and plenty of elevation gain. As you ascend higher, the landscape unveils, revealing sweeping vistas of rolling hills, lush valleys, and distant mountain ranges. Reaching the summit, you’ll be greeted by a vast plateau, providing a perfect vantage point to soak in the sheer magnificence of the surrounding Rocky Mountains to the north and the west, and the foothills / prairies to the east.
Don’t stop at the plateau though! The true summit of Table Mountain passes through a stunning larch-filled grove which shines golden in the fall months.
We wish to remind all visitors that hiking at Castle Provincial Park is a wilderness experience. Wildlife, including bears, frequent the area. Be bear aware, leave no trace, leave a detailed trip plan with someone you love, and prepare yourself for backcountry emergencies.
For more information on Castle Provincial Park, click here (Alberta Parks website).
For complete details on summer hiking trails at Castle Mountain Resort, click here.