Hike: Castle Mountain - The Fire Lookout

Quick Summary

Difficulty: Easy (short, kinda steap)
Distance: 4.7
Elevation gain: about 500m
Time Taken: 3 hours
Cool points: not much
What it's Not:
Date of Hike: Mid Aug 2002
Notes: This is a short, and moderately steep hike, you end up with a bit of a view of the bow Valley, including the Bow river, and Hwy 1 snaking through it. It goes up and ends at the foundations of an old fire look out, situated near the base of the cliffs of Castle mountain.

Castle Mountain Map

"Map is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved."
map from the website http://toporama.cits.rncan.gc.ca/toporama_en.html

How to get to the trail head

To get to the trail head from Calgary, follow Hwy 1 to the Castle mountain junction (Hwy 93) it is past the banff townsite, it taks better than an hour to get there. Turn right, Follow the road accross the Bow River, and turn left on ___ 1A, Follow this ____ and turn right in to the trail head parking lot.

Ramble on about the hike

This is the first hike of the season for me (and the seasons almost over now. Suggested to my wife and I by our friend Steve. 4.7km, at the Castle Mountain. I was interested right away, I've always wanted to do some hiking in back around this moutain. It is a very impressive chunk of rock that I've driven by serveral times on the way to the ski hill, or on my way out to BC.

This is a well maintained trail, at the trail head is a topographical map of castle mountain showing the trail that you will be following.

As the name implies this is a hike to an old fire lookout. The fire lookout itself hass been taken down as the Parks system fire lookouts were abandoned in the 1970's.

The hike starts out in the trees, crosses a tiny stream and begins to climb up the side of Castle mountain. The Trail is well treveled, we passed two famillies with fairly yong kids. The one familly had one girl that was still in diapers, so I'd put her at 2-3 years old.

Anyways, the hike is actualy fairly steap, we took our time. it climbs in through the trees, occasionally giving glimpses of the ramparts of Castle mountain up in front of us on the right, and the Bow River and valley down below.

About 1/3 or so along the trail, there is a small, old and abandoned cabin. I think it was used to store supplies for the fire lookout. I'm not sure, just a suspision, It could have been from the days when the internment camp was set up, not to far from here during WW1.

A little past the 1/2 point the trail opens up out of the trees a bit, giving a view along the valley. Actually a view of two valleys, as this hike is close to the junction point of the _______ valley and the _____ valley. Down below we can see the Bow river winding its way towards Banff. One of these days I'm going to drop my canoe in up here and paddle down to Banff, or Canmore.

The tril comes to ba bit of a dry gulch, where we snapped the first picture. Believe it or not we are getting pretty tired at this point. How terrible, it is be be this out of shape. Even Steve's dog is getting tired, and she is on a leash. After the gulch, we come to some switch backs, the trail is not nealy as defined as it was at the start, but is still very well traveled. just that people are short cutting the switch backs. Too bad people are so ignorant as to what this does in terms of errosion. Stuff like that is more expected on the short easy trails, as the users tend to be a bit less out door savy. Snapped a few more pictures along the open area the trail was going through and along the switch backs.

The trail seemed to be longer that ne 4.7 in the trail guide. I was actually wondering if the guide was old and that the trail had been extended by lots of use over the years. However soon we did indeed come to the foundation where the fire lookout had stood.

The view was OK, not great as we did not have alot of elevation, and the valley was a bit smokey, or misty. I liked being in somewhat close to the cliffs of Castle mountain. I did take several pictures of the valley.

Lessons Learned on this trip.

Concluding thoughts

The Hike would make a good early season warm up hike (I think) the trail is low, and faces West, but has exposure to the southern Sun. I expect it would be open fairly early. However, for me the lack of a climax, or spectacular views, makes this a hike that I would not recommend as a short day hike.

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