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Top Five Trails in the Pass You Haven’t Hiked

July 8, 2020

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

Community Futures Crowsnest Pass has rounded up some of the best hikes in the Pass to add to your adventure list this summer. From the shimmering waters of Window Mountain Lake to the vast caves of “The Promised Land”, there’s a trail for all levels of adventurers!
  1. Window Mountain Lake
    Difficulty Rating: 2/4
    Trailhead: Drive north on the Allison Creek/Atlas Road for 16.5 km, keeping right at the junction for Chinook Lake. At km 16.5 a rough road leads left (west) for 2 km, ending at a parking area. A well-defined path leads steeply up and over the headwall from the parking area into the basin holding the stunning blue-green waters of Window Mountain Lake. The lake is a very popular spot in the summer with day hikers and anglers. Despite its name, the “Window” on Mount Ward cannot be seen from the lake.

    Bonus: Mount Ward

    Difficulty Rating: 4/4
    Trailhead: The route begins on the scree slops at the far end of Window Mountain Lake. For those keen to see the “Window” on Mount Ward, it is a tough scramble up the loose scree slope from the southwest corner of Window Mountain Lake. Follow the general direction of the gulley as it leads around the back of Mount Ward, eventually ending up below the Window. To actually reach the Window will require some climbing skills.

  2. Gargantua Caves* / Promised land / Ptolemy Creek
    Difficulty Rating: 4/4
    Trailhead: Turn south off of Highway 3 just east of the bridge over Crowsnest Creek, 11 km west of Coleman. Drive on the gravel road for 3 km and park at the junction. The route follows the rough road to the left (south). The first 2/3 of this route cross back and forth over the bubbling waters of Ptolemy Creek and can make for a nice outing in itself. At the end of the road, a well-defined trail climbs very steeply up through the forest to a rocky pass into the moonscape of ‘The Promised Land’. There are several significant caves in the immediate area, including Cleft Cave, Gargantua Cave, and Yorkshire Pot.
    *Disclaimer: Caving can be extremely dangerous. Do not enter any caves without proper equipment and training. Creek crossings may not be possible at higher water levels.

  3. Wedge Mountain
    Difficulty Rating: 3/4
    Trailhead: There is no specific trailhead for this hike. Follow the McGillivray Creek (Gun Range) Road from the west end of Coleman. From the cattleguard at 2.5 km on the road, Wedge Mountain stands out to the right (north). Turn right at the next intersection and park in one of the primitive camping areas near the mountain’s base. Wedge Mountain is one of the line of peaks that make up the Crowsnest Volcanics, a geologically unique formation in the southern Rockies. The hike does not follow any trails, and one must simply slog their way up the rough volcanic rocks. Views from the large cairn at the summit are impressive, especially towards the looming face of Crowsnest Mountain. Note: good hiking boots are a must for this hike.

  4. Lille
    Difficulty Rating: 2/4
    Trailhead: North of Frank Slide Centre access road (another option is to park at the Frank Slide Centre and walk back down the paved access road to the cattleguard at the hairpin turn). Cross the cattleguard at the hairpin turn on the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre access road. Take the second road to your left (approximately 250 m from the cattleguard). Park in the meadow. Hike on the rough road that leads into the forest. Once the rough road rejoins the main Lille access road (approximately 1.5 km from the start), turn left and follow the road up the Gold Creek Valley. There is one small crossing of Green Creek crossings of the Gold Creek. For both Gold Creek crossings, there are snowmobile bridges upstream from the vehicle ford. One final crossing at Morin Creek brings you out into the open at what once was the coal mining community of Lille. A bit of searching will find basement depressions, bricks, rusted metal and a couple of fire hydrants. Once in the meadow, if you veer to the left, you will come across the basement foundation of the Lille Hotel, a fine two-story structure in its day. Continuing in this direction will lead to a large pile of slack coal and the remains of Lille’s Bernard-type coke covers. Note: Lille is an Alberta Provincial Historic Site. Do not disturb or take anything from the site.

  5. Livingstone Range / Raptor Migration Viewpoint
    Difficulty Rating: 3/4
    Trailhead: Abandoned well site on gravel road north of Frank Slide Centre. The access road leads north across the cattleguard from the hairpin turn on the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre access road. Follow the main road up the hill, keeping right at the main junction. Eventually this leads to an open meadow (abandoned well site) beneath the Livingstone Range. From the well site, there are game trails and a few worn routes that lead steeply up the grass and forest ridge, and those with good route-finding skills will have few problems. Once on the ridge, find the internet transmission station (looks like a plastic porta-potty). The viewpoint is on the eastern face of the ridge, overlooking Rock Creek valley. In the spring and fall each year, thousands of large raptors make their way north and south along this flyway, using the thermals to lift them high above the valley floor. Golden eagle counts are taken from this location each migration season.

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