Fantastic conditions from Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

by Bob Truman on January 5, 2016

in Banff, Dog-friendly

Post image for Fantastic conditions from Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

My favourite part of this trail is the initial 5K from Castle Lookout. Soon after starting out, it veers away from the road and meanders through sensational scenery.

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

The only place that I’d consider it difficult is 150 metres from the Castle Lookout trailhead where there’s a steep downhill to the Bow Valley Parkway. Today, a car was coming down the road and would have run over me if I hadn’t been able to stop in time. It might be safer to just walk down.

Jim and Patsy on Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

Jim and Patsy on Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

Thereafter, it winds through the forest for about 500 metres where, in past years, I’ve seen the trail thick with pine needles. Not this year.

For the next 4k, the trail is easy with gentle hills and spectacular scenery. It was trackset about a week ago, but the tracks are still in great shape.

Protection Mountain campground has double-trackset trails

Protection Mountain campground has double-trackset trails

At 5K you reach a CPR access road. If 5K is far enough for you, you’ve skied the best part of the trail. The next kilometre parallels the Bow Valley parkway and the CPR train tracks, then crosses the parkway into Protection Mountain campground, where you can add on a couple kilometres by skiing the campground loops which are trackset.

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

The final 3.5K follows the powerline to Baker creek.

The air temperature at Castle Loookout was -6°C, and the snow was -10. It’s a great winter when you’re using VR40(-4/-12) every day.

Protection Mountain campground

Protection Mountain campground

It’s a trail where you can’t go fast because you’ll be soaking in all the breathtaking views. If you’re skiing this leg in the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet, make sure you take a look around while you’re furiously double-poling.

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

You can access the trail from two different parking lots along the Bow Valley Parkway; at Castle lookout or at Baker Creek Chalets, and it’s dog-friendly. I guess you could also start at Protection Mountain Campground if you can find a spot to park.

I was happy to see Chuck and Jeannette at the Baker Creek trailhead. They had just returned from a backcountry trip up Baker Creek. You can read about their trip and see beautiful photos on the Trip Reports.

Thanks to Baker Creek Chalets for tracksetting this wonderful trail.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Tanya January 6, 2016 at 8:44 pm

We did the Protection Mountain to Castle Mountain Lookout section this winter (one way with kids and a shuttle so that we could do it downhill) and it was fabulous!! New fav. trail in Banff.
Scenery is so beautiful and the trail was super easy.
We parked at the CPR access road you refer to.
Our only mistake was continuing on to Castle Junction (which was more difficult.)
We should have done the Baker Creek part instead.
Can’t wait to do this trail again!

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