Eisenhower Peak and Castle Mountain is a 26.6 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Castle Junction, Alberta, Canada that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, birding, and backpacking and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
26.6 km
ELEVATION GAIN
1,540 m
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

no shade

1 month ago

hi folks is it possible to hike all of these rookies summit in winter too?

hiking
3 months ago

This is my favourite hike in the Rockies. The first quarter of the hike is to Rockbound lake, which is a beautiful hike on its own. Circle the lake counter clock-wise and reconnect with the trail just past the sandy lake drainage. You'll gain about 200M vertical in about 20 minutes, on a trail set by a jokester that didn't believe in switchbacks. As you approach the alpine line, the path will flatten out and begin to trend more counterclockwise again. There's an unmarked branch in the path here, where the longer route will take you up and toward Stuart's knob, while the lower route will remain flat and take you around an intermediate bench above the lake. Both routes are impressive for their own reasons and I might recommend that you try both.

The path to the intermediate bench is not clearly marked, but you'll want to cross the grassy area before you begin to make the second steep incline. You'll cross a banked scree slope that has an impressive drop below you back to the lake, as well as a large cliff face above you. After this crossing the bench is a marmot haven that's ribboned with creeks, alpine grasses and mosses, (and lots of marmots). There are multiple routes off this bench, varying from aggressive scree slopes to straight up bouldering routes. Pick one that works for your group (or avoid this lower bench altogether).

The upper route is also very impressive and although following any sort of trail is fairly impossible, it's also a fun "choose your own adventure". I'm not a geologist, but the rocks appear to be an ancient ocean, with coral and other "ocean like" formations (you'll see what I mean if you go). There are plenty of cairns everywhere, but generally if you just remain close to the cliff edge, you'll find your way quite nicely.

Since your target of Eisenhower peak is clearly in view the whole time, you have a good sense of where you're headed. As you approach the back corner of the lake and begin to ascend toward the summit, a more clearly defined trail will pick up again, but it will fade in and out. Follow the cairns when in doubt. It feels like you're walking on the moon, and the views in all directions are incredible.

The summit and ridge walk isn't as foreboding as some other hikes around, but the altitude and views are second to none. Plus, this is a mountain that you'll drive past every time you're west of Banff, and it's quite an impressive feat to make it to the top.

A few other tips:
- I've hiked to Rockbound a handful of times, and I appreciate it more toward the middle or end of August once the bugs have passed and the snow is melted. I've been once on Canada Day and the bugs were awful.
- You'll have 360 degree views from the top, go on a clear day
- We had about 28.5 KM on two Garmin devices. It's a long day, but other than the quick ascent out of the lake, it's not a grind. Bring poles and lots of water.
- There's a little stream in the woods on the east side of the parking lot. A great place to cool your feet at the end of the day.

hiking
3 months ago

Long and wonderful hike!

hiking
4 months ago

Longest hike I have done so far, the hike itself is not difficult but it is a long day and the route is hard to find. Trail starts with an easy hike in the forest to Rockbound Lake then you need to find the trail at the right of the lake; once that is done you go up to the bottom of Helena Peak and then to a plateau where I lost the trail and ended up going way too high towards Stuart Knob. Had to ask a marmot for directions but it was not very helpful. Did this hike on 9 July, still lots of snow up there and only had light hiking shoes, good thing there were footsteps in the snow. View is definitely worth it!

hiking
5 months ago

Despite the long slog in the forest, the final approach and the epic finish make this a mind blowing experience.

hiking
2 months ago

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9 months ago

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Thursday, September 13, 2012