Canadian Trails: Southfork Mountain and Barnaby Ridge High Point
Aug 29, 2017
Date of training run: August 18/2017
Distance: ~8km one way (16km out and back)
Access: From Beaver Mines, AB, Canada head toward Castle Mountain Resort on HWY 774. The parking access is found 7.2km after the West Castle River Bridge (the second road on your left after this bridge). It should be marked with the blue sign below. After accessing this road you will see an orange sign indicating where to head next. The parking is located at a University of Lethbridge research facility (white building). From this parking lot head directly toward the West Castle River (which you will have to ford) to find the next orange sign indicating the trail. You should see this sign from across the small river. If you’ve walking >150 metres up or down river you have gone too far.
Route: The route is well established from the access point to Southfork Lakes. There is a Lower, Middle and Upper Lake after a steep section of trail involving multiple switchbacks. I ran into a few travelers in this section of the trail but was all alone after the Upper Lake. There is about 1km of runnable section before heading up the first steep power hiking section. After this a beautiful single track into the lower Southfork Lake which continues to the Upper and Middle Lakes (bring a fishing rod- people were catching in the middle lake!!). After the Middle Lake head up the east slope of Southfork Mountain. This was the only area where I was confused about the location of the trail. So the only way was up another 2km steep section. The pictures below may help. The summit of Southfork to the highpoint of Barnaby Ridge was mostly runnable with a light scramble just before the top. Reverse order was 100% runnable.
View of the Upper Lake as I travel up the East Slope of SouthFork Mountain
View of the Middle and Upper Lakes as I continue up to the topi of Southfork (I traveled along this treeline on the left of the photo)
View towards the highpoint of Barnaby Ridge from the Summit of Southfork
Panorama at the Summit of Southfork
Experience: Bring bear spray! 2 km in I saw a small black bear, but he ran off quite quickly. At this time of year the sunshine was helpful. If there is any nippiness to the air make sure you are prepared with wind gear!!! All exposed surfaces were super windy. If you want to experience the beauty of the Pincher Creek/ Castle Mountain Area all in one shot, this is the hike/run for you. So much beauty, so much colour, a perfect mix of run/climb and downhill, spotted with Alpine lakes and never ending mountain views, I would recommend to everyone!