Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

by Bob Truman on January 10, 2019

in Banff

Post image for Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

It’s a lot nicer to ski this on a sunny day, but even on an overcast day like yesterday, the scenery is spectacular. 

Castle Mountain is one of the sights along the trail

I skied from Castle Lookout to the CPR access at 4.8K. You can go an additional 4.9K which includes crossing the Bow Valley Parkway again and ending up at the trailhead near Baker Creek Mountain Resort. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

I didn’t go far enough to see the sign that Chuck posted in his photos, but due to construction, the location where the trail crosses the road(approx 6.4K from Castle) had to be changed. The Baker Creek snowmobile packed the trail which includes the new configuration yesterday, so from the Baker Creek end, all you have is snowmobile packing for about 4K. That is, until it is trackset which should be imminent. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek

From Castle Lookout the first 200 metres includes a step downhill which spits you out on a road crossing of the Bow Valley Parkway, so be careful. I had an easy time snowplowing down in some fresh snow. 

After crossing the road, the ski trail meanders through the forest for 800 metres. You’ll no doubt encounter some pine needles on this section. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek on a sunny day. Photo from 2014

Emerging from the forest, the next 2.6K is truly spectacular. You’ll cross the two “humps” which requires a bit of climbing and gentle downhill. Skiing the plateaus on top of the hills is where you will experience magnificent scenery. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek. Photo from Feb 10, 2018.

When I say a bit of climbing, the net elevation gain on this trail from the low point to the top of the second hill is about 35 metres. 

At 3.6K you’ll enter the “tunnel.” See my previous posting Thursday Morning Update for more details on this feature. 

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek. Photo from 2017.

At 4.8K there is a CPR access which usually has enough packed snow to ski across the few metres of the parking area. 

The trail continues along the railway tracks for about 1.6K then crosses the Bow Valley Parkway again, and takes you through a nice meadow with more wonderful views on the way to Baker Creek.

Chuck was also on the trail earlier in the day and posted some photos. 

WTH is going on?

“It appears to be the “Year of the Walker” partly due to our limited snowpack; or they might be “track-shoeing” which is what I call snow-shoeing on tracked trails.” -Helen

It’s not only walkers. In the past 24 hours,  skate-skiers wrecked new tracksetting on Tramline and on Meadow/Wheeler. A hiker walked in the tracks on Peyto and Upper Telemark. Have you noticed from the trip reports that inconsiderate hikers and skate-skiers have been trashing the classic tracks with reckless abandon this winter? 

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been out skiing as much(with camera).  

New tracksetting occurred today at Lake Louise on the following trails: Fairview (double trackset); Campground loop; Bow River loop. There might be more, but late day tracksetting doesn’t get reported until the next day. 

Thursday evening is usually the time when tracksetting happens at Mt Shark. If so, it will be on the Mt Shark Live Grooming Report in the morning. 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn Bowers January 11, 2019 at 11:45 am

Appreciate reading about alternatives to the usual ski trails. Thanks, Bob!

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2 Frank Howard January 11, 2019 at 3:25 pm

When I skied the Baker Creek trail last year, I noted that the tracksetting is done with a static weight rather than a hydraulic ram such as what Lake Louise uses. That said, give them credit for trying and the trail is really a treat both visually and ski-wise.

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3 Peter N January 10, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Re WTH: Yesterday we caught up with two fat bikes being pushed, yes, pushed up Lower Tramline in the fresh trackset. Admonished them to stay off the tracks, they reluctantly complied, only to step back in once we passed. Turned around to… educate. Turns out Wilson Mtn Sports had advised the young Aussies, first time visitors to Canada, to go up Lower Tramline, even though it was so soft they could not get traction. So we had a friendly chat, and I advised them to take the access road to their destination, the Chateau, instead of proceeding on Tramline. Turned around at the road crossing, waited for them, saw them get on the road. First guy started up, yelled, “Oh God, this is so much easier!”, thanking me with a wave. Total coincidence, 4 hours later on the return trip, we were walking across the road, when the 2 Aussies came rolling down, waved “Hello Boss”. “Did you have a good time?” “Yes, thanks mate”, they answered. So in this case, all is well that ends well.

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4 Keith January 11, 2019 at 7:38 am

Good-on-yah Ambassador Peter N

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