June 23, 2017.
I decided to make my first foray in to the Castle Wilderness by checking out Bovin Lake. The trail is described in Ambrosi’s Southern Rockies Trail Guide, and seemed like a reasonable half-day objective for a solo expedition. The weather was partly cloudy and slightly cool, with a possibility of rain, so I figured it would be best to pick a trail that stayed in a valley rather than go up on a ridge.
Access to the trail was via the road to the Shell Waterton Gas Plant, south of Pincher Creek along Hwy 6. 6 km along the road to the gas plant you take a left turn onto a gravel road, which you follow to a well site which is the start of the trail. I was going to describe the drive in some detail, then discovered that all of the gravel roads in that area are on Google Maps. Just cut and paste these coordinates into Google Maps: 49.248828, -114.059942 and it’ll drop a pin on where you should park. Important note: vehicle access to this area is only permitted from June 15 – September 1. On the drive in you’ll encounter a gate with a map and some information about Bovin Lake.
The trail begins beyond the well site, and it’s basically an old road. It is actually possible to drive it if you have a suitable vehicle. I encountered what could only be described as a mini monster truck part of the way along the trail.
The whole trail is out in the open, running along a valley between Drywood and Loaf Mountain. It parallels South Drywood Creek. As a result, there are great views throughout the hike: rocky cliffs on both sides, dozens of little waterfalls and views back down the valley to the open prairie beyond. Bovin Lake itself isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s an attractive little lake, reminiscent of Forum Lake in Waterton. If you have the time and energy, the scramble up Loaf Mountain begins at the lake.
It took me 1 hour 40 minutes to reach the lake. One way from my car the distance was 6.3 km (though you could park closer to the start of the trail than I did). Elevation gain was 1417 feet/431 meters.
Click on the pictures in the gallery to access full size images.