Mount Baldy to Mount Albert Loop

December 10, 2019. A scenic snowshoe loop, touching two low summits in Beauvais Lake Provincial Park.

  • Region: Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. Traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina, and Ktunaxa First Nations
  • Distance: 8.45 km loop
  • Elevation of Objective: Mount Baldy 1,585 m, Mount Albert 1,691 m
  • Total Ascent: 425 m
  • Total Time: 3h 16m
  • Safety and Disclaimer

I had been meaning to do this trip for a while, but the weather for the last couple of months wasn’t cooperative. Southern Alberta was either warm and excessively windy, or smothered under snowfall in blizzard conditions. December 10 was a gloomy but calm day, though, and it worked out wonderfully. Beauvais Lake Provincial Park had plenty of soft deep snow along its trails, and though skies were overcast I still got some distant views from the peaks of Mount Baldy and Mount Albert.

I’ve previously described a loop route up Mount Albert which makes for a great day of snowshoeing (or a shoulder season hike). That trip gave me a good view of the peak of Mount Baldy, a short distance to the north of Mount Albert. Baldy features a telecom tower and a bench at its summit. The views are decent, but not as good as those from Mount Albert. There’s an unofficial route, complete with guide markers on trees, allowing one to traverse from Baldy to the shoulder just below Albert’s peak. This allows for a scenic loop route touching both peaks — ascending on the Mount Baldy Trail and descending on the Mount Albert Trail.

Access to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park is via a turn-off 11km west of Pincher Creek on highway 507. The park gate is about 7 km from the turn-off. This route starts at the Beaver Creek Day Use Area. A trail heads northwest from the parking lot, crossing a small bridge and arriving at a clearing which is the site of the remains of the Lower Smith Homestead. Once there, I got onto the marked Homestead Loop Trail, which ascends and heads south through the trees. About 1km from the parking lot, the trail splits into 3, with the Homestead Loop continuing due west along a wide cutline.

This cutline actually makes a straight line which eventually continues up a slope to the summit of Mount Baldy.  The trail doesn’t follow this ascent, though hikers interested in off-trail travel would likely have no problem finding their way along the cutline to the summit (I can’t comment on any terrain challenges or snow hazards that may be involved). I decided to stay on the official trail, which takes a sharp right turn after crossing 2 small bridges and loops around the eastern spur of Mount Baldy before reaching the official ascent trail to the summit. This is a worthwhile route to take because it takes you by the remains of the Upper Smith Homestead.

The Upper Smith Homestead is a lonely little ruin a short way east of the Homestead Loop Trail. Parts of all four walls of the log cabin remain standing. Most astonishing are the artifacts that are still inside, including leather belts, tools and a metal bed frame. I haven’t found any information about this site, but I understand that somewhere in the park there are information placards telling the story of the Smiths.

About 400 meters past the turn-off to the homestead there’s a sign pointing the way up the official Mount Baldy trail. The climb is fairly steady and was a decent workout in snowshoes. After a short time the com tower on the summit comes into view, followed by a bench. The summit of Baldy is clear of trees, and the views are decent, though obviously inferior to what can be seen from the taller Mount Albert. The trail connecting the two is probably an evident footpath when there’s no snow on the ground, but someone has also put markers on trees along the way so you can follow the path in the winter.

Getting to the summit of Mount Albert involves some steeper climbing, and I was dealing with some deep snow which added to the challenge. Once on top, I enjoyed the excellent views in all directions before descending along the official Mount Albert Backcountry Trail (my ascent route from the prior trip).

Click on the pictures in the gallery below for full-sized images.

Topo map of the route. LH = Lower Smith Homestead; UH = Upper Smith Homestead
Signage for the Homestead Loop Trail, down by the Lower Homestead (you can see the cabin in the background).
The 3-way intersection a short distance up the Homestead Loop Trail. This picture is from my prior trail report for the Mount Albert Trail. For the current trip, I turned right to follow “The groomed trail continues” and I returned via the Mount Albert trail. No trail grooming had been done at the time I climbed Mount Baldy.
After the intersection, the trail proceeds straight as an arrow along a cut line.
This is the point where the Homestead Loop Trail takes a hard right turn, but you can see the cut line continues up the slope ahead. This actually leads directly to the summit of Mount Baldy, but going that way would miss the Upper Homestead.
About 600m from the sharp turn, there’s a pair of signs pointing to the easier and harder portions of the Homestead Loop trail, plus this map. Immediately east down a connecting trail the Upper Homestead is visible.
The remains of the Upper Smith Homestead. It looks like there used to be a sign on the little post in front.
Looking over the walls into the cabin, I was amazed to see the remains of a bed frame, along with a number of leather belts.
A closer look at the rusty metal and rotting leather.
Continuing west along the Homestead Loop Trail, eventually I reached the sign marking the trail up to Mount Baldy’s summit.
A bench, a comm tower and mountains. The summit of Mount Baldy.
Prairie Bluff and Mount Victoria.
Clouds rolling over Windsor Peak and Castle Mountain.
The Livingstone Range stretching away to the north.
Crowsnest Mountain peeking through distant clouds.
Crowsnest Mountain on the left, with Seven Sisters immediately to its right. The Livingstone Range goes off to the right.
Mount Syncline
Clouds rolling over Mounts Ptolemy, Andy Good and Coulthard (I think).
Table Mountain
Looking towards the summit of Mount Albert (left).
I’m certain there’s a footpath that’s visible when the snow’s gone, but someone has fixed orange trail markers onto trees along the route so you can take the path of least resistance in the wintertime.
That clear patch on the shoulder of Mount Albert is the destination for this leg of the trip.
Looking up at the summit of Mount Albert. The snow, rocks and trees from this angle make the image of a skull right at the apex. See it?
A closer view of the “skull”.
Looking back at Mount Baldy from the shoulder of Mount Albert.
The last bit of steep climbing below Mount Albert’s summit.
Windsor Peak and Castle Mountain.
Table Mountain and Mount Syncline. Mount Haig is in the background, mostly hidden in clouds.
Chief Mountain in Montana. The smokestack from the Shell Waterton Gas Plant is on the left.
From the summit of Mount Albert, looking back at Mount Baldy and the Crowsnest Pass beyond.


One thought on “Mount Baldy to Mount Albert Loop

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s