This trail is known by a couple other names: “Leg 2 of the Loppet” and “Double Hump Trail”(courtesy of Helen Read). It was groomed and trackset yesterday by Baker Creek Mountain Resort. I exchanged emails with Brandon, the tracksetter, and he will inform us when any grooming is completed henceforth.
To get the full effect of the scenery on this trail, you need to ski it on a sunny day, preferably without any wind, which were the conditions I had today. When I started at Castle Lookout it was -23°C, at the finish around 3 pm it was -18.
I was surprised to see tracks running right down into the parking lot at Castle lookout. The one place you have to be careful is about 200 metres after starting out, there’s a downhill which spits you out onto the Bow Valley Parkway road.
The best part of this trail is the first 3.5K from Castle Lookout. For a short distance, the trail meanders through the trees, and as usual, there are a few pine needles adorning the trail. You soon get out into the open, and ski up the first “hump.” It’s a small elevation gain of about 25 metres to a ridge overlooking the river and railway. The scenery is spectacular, so you’ll want to ski as slow as you can.
When you ski down the other side, massive Castle Mountain is visible to the north. Ski over another hump, with similar outstanding views, and you’ve gone about 3.5K.
For the next K, you enter the “tunnel” and you’ll want to ski as fast as you can. You’re surrounded by tall trees and completely in the shade and on a cold day it’s very cold. Unless you go early. I remember skiing through this “tunnel” from the opposite direction early in the morning during the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet with the sun directly in my eyes.
Some changes to the trail have occurred due to construction under the powerline by AltaLink. Rather than skiing through Protection Mountain campground, the trail now runs for an extra kilometre along the railway tracks. The good thing about this is that you’re in the sun.
At approximately 6.4K you cross the Bow Valley Parkway and enter the construction zone with large amounts of tree debris on the trail. You might want to walk for the next 300 metres. The trail was trackset through here, but someone drove over the tracks with a large vehicle and created a mess. I didn’t encounter any rocks, just tree branches, twigs, and needles, but it looks really bad. The trail then resumes under the powerline, clean with good tracks. I didn’t ski the next 3K to Baker Creek so I can’t pass judgment. Right at Baker Creek, the trail looks good.
For those of you who are skiing in the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet, an update was posted today.