In my post ‘Ten Great Summer Hikes in the Canadian Rockies’ I mentioned hiking at Rockbound Lake in Banff National Park, so I thought I’d provide a few more photographs and a little bit more of an explanation about the hike.
The trail head is a parking lot just east of Castle Junction on the Bow Valley Parkway. If you’re headed west on Highway 1 turn off at Castle Junction, towards the Bow Valley Parkway turn right to head back east and then it’s almost immediately on your left.
The first time I did the hike up to Rockbound Lake I cycled from Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway, which was enjoyable, but does mean that you’d probably get a later start on the hike than if you drove to the trailhead. You also need to factor in that the bike ride is 30km to the trailhead from Banff plus the 16.8km hike and then a 30km cycle back to Banff – I was a little exhausted after this!
A long part of the trail climbs and switchbacks over the forested lower slopes of the more prominent Castle Mountain. Though there may not be so much in the way of views, both times I did the hike this year I saw several Spruce Grouse right on the trail.
The trail eventually levels off at the end of the switchbacks and the trees begin to thin as you reach Tower Lake. Here, if you get there early enough you’ll get a reflection of Eisenhower Tower (the end pillar of Castle Mountain) in the lake.
Walking along the shore of Tower Lake you’ll reach a bridge which crosses a creek, and then the trail once again begins to climb. Don’t worry, it’s not for too long, and then you’ll be up at Rockbound Lake – however take care as parts of the trail weren’t in too condition last time I hiked there (October 2014).
You’ll be back in amongst the larches once you’ve done this short final climb. It’s then a short distance through these until you reach the lake. Here there seem to be several worn trails to reach the lake shore – try and keep an eye for the way which you came as it can be a little confusing about where to go on the way back as there are so many different little trails!
When I hiked to Rockbound Lake in September the larches were a golden yellow – so if you’re keen to see the famed ‘Larch Valley’ at Moraine Lake but are deterred by the crowds this is a very good alternative.
The route to summit Castle Mountain is also in this direction. I carried on past Rockbound Lake following this route to take some photographs. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to get to the summit, but if you’re looking for directions Alan Kane’s book ‘Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies’ gives very good directions – make sure to bring a detailed map. I really enjoyed hiking this trail (which is why I did it twice in a short space of time), and I’m really determined to get to the summit of Castle Mountain in 2015!
The route back to the trailhead is the same as the way back up. In all the distance to Rockbound Lake and back to the trailhead is 16.8 km (10.4 miles) and has an elevation gain of 760 metres (2500 feet).
© RockiesOutdoors 2014