Fall is the best time to hike. The weather is cooler, the trails are less crowded, and the colours are so amazing! I recently wrote an article for Explore magazine with a recap of a few larch hikes in Castle Provincial Park. I hit the trails one Saturday to take pictures and try out one of these trails for myself- Haig Ridge.
HAIG RIDGE HIKE
Distance – About 3 miles (one-way)
Elevation Gain – 770 meters (2525 feet)
Trail Difficulty –Difficult
If you’re looking for information on this hike, know that there are a couple of trails with the name Haig in it. Mt Haig is accessible by Haig Ridge or from a different trail. The easiest way to know you’re doing the right hike is to start right at the base of Castle Mountain Ski Resort and follow the signs!
The resort puts up signage during hiking season to help you find Haig Lake and Haig Ridge. The beginning is a slow and steady incline up a gravel road under the Huckleberry Chair. Once you get to the top of the chair, you hang a left up the catski trail and that’s where the trail gets steep!
I was feeling pretty good that I hadn’t lost too much cardio since I stopped running in July, until I hit the catski trail. Whoo! I was huffing and puffing pretty good. But I just took a lot of breaks and caught my breath while enjoying the breathtaking scenery.
Art about the 2.5 mile mark you hit your first larch and it feels exciting, not knowing the forest of them that awaits you a little higher up.
I came to this really cool rock chute where I stopped for a snack break. A very fit couple came up behind me and we chatted a bit about the trail. Apparently, they skin up (skiing using a traction bottom) this trail in the winter! I can barely make it on my own two feet, mad respect for that kind of fitness!
Just as the trail disappeared under an avalanche area, the terrain turned into a forest of yellow larches! It was gorgeous. And did you know the needles are soft and fluffy to the touch?
Lost in the larches
This is the point where I was lost for a little while. The trail had been covered from an avalanche so I wandered through the yellow forest for a bit trying to find it. Eventually, I just walked to the end of the ridge and followed it until I hit the rocky summit.
I was so excited! I thought I made it to the summit of Mt. Haig. I took a long break, snapped some timer photos, and shot off a couple of texts because I actually had service at the summit.
As I went to leave, I was curious as to where hikers would go if they wanted to do the loop trail and hit Gravenstafel Ridge to come down the other side. That’s when I realized, the mountain looming in front of me wasn’t Gravenstafel, it was the actual Mount Haig. I had just come to the summit of the ridge!
By this point I was tired, not in great shape, I didn’t have much food left, and I was hiking alone. It looked like a difficult climb to the summit and even though it was killing me not to accomplish my original goal, I knew it was best if I was safe and didn’t attempt this peak on my own.
Old Rachel would have climbed to that peak come hell or high water! But Rachel the mother has learned to let go of things that are out of her control.
I took my time through the larches on the way down, and felt really good about my day.