The South Canadian Rockies is an awesome mountain playground known for its scenery, rich history, and charming small towns. Discover Pincher Creek, Castle Provincial Park, and Crowsnest Pass this summer, and adventure by day and relax in a cozy cabin (or campsite) at night. Stunning hiking and mountain biking trails, fantastic fishing, and good eateries await!
Here’s how to make the most of a summer weekend in the South Canadian Rockies!
Day 1: Pincher Creek
Pincher Creek is the friendly gateway to the South Canadian Rockies, just south of the Crowsnest Highway. Here you will find good eats, unique gifts, and all your road trip essentials.
Begin your trip at the Kootenai-Brown Pioneer Village, Country Store, & Visitor Information Centre to get maps, shop for local and handmade goods, and learn about local history. With more than 30 buildings on 6.5 acres, there’s a lot of history here.
Address: 1037 Bev McLachlin Drive. Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 4:30pm.
For brunch or lunch, pop into Bear Grass Bistro where homemade breakfast and burgers are served with a smile. Save room for dessert; their pies and cheesecakes are legendary! Address: 1300 Hewetson Avenue (Ranchland Mall), Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, only 20 minutes from Pincher Creek, is a great camping, fishing, and birding spot. Over 180 species of birds have been seen around the lake. See if you can spot the big osprey nest as you drive into the park! Take Chipman Creek Trail (1.8km to wetlands boardwalk) or South Shore Trail (3km one way) to see birds; and Piney Point Viewpoint (1.5km one way), or Mount Albert Viewpoint (3.5km one way) for foothills and mountain views.
Next, get a coffee and a snack at Miner’s Mercantile & Bakery in the hamlet of Beaver Mines. All baked goods are made fresh in house, and the meats are locally sourced.
Continuing east, don’t miss The Burmis Tree, a well-loved landmark on the east side of Crowsnest Pass. The interpretive panel shares the ancient tree’s story.
When it’s time for dinner, enjoy craft brews and amazing wood-fired pizza at The Pass Beer Co. in Blairmore. Kids are welcome and all kids’ meals come with an ice cream sandwich!
Day 2: Explore Castle Provincial Park & Castle Wildlands Provincial Park
Castle Provincial Park & Castle Wildlands Provincial Park has fantastic hiking, but signage is limited, so research your route before you go, and bring a map or GPS. Some trails to try include:
Beaver Mines Lake Interpretive Trail: Hike the 2.8km interpretive trail, then have a picnic at the lake or fish for rainbow trout.
Syncline South has a large network of well-signed trails suitable for walking and mountain biking.
Carbondale Hill Lookout offers panoramic views of the Castle Wildlands. 4.5km one way, 450m elevation gain. Don’t miss Castle Falls just a few kilometres down the road!
Haig Lake South: Start by Castle Mountain Resort’s Huckleberry Chair and hike to a sparkling aquamarine lake. If you’d like to make a loop, you can return via Haig Lake North Trail. This trail is well marked. 4.4km one way, 410m elevation gain.
Table Mountain Scramble: This scenic scramble starts at Beaver Mines Day Use Area. Note that there is loose rock, exposure, a bit of hands-on scrambling near the
top, and no signage. Not recommended for young children/inexperienced hikers. 4.3km one way, 685m elevation gain.
To learn more about the area from a local, go on a guided hike with Uplift Adventures. I’ve snowshoed with Uplift Adventures twice and am always impressed by Heather’s knowledge and enthusiasm.
Where to eat: Grab lunch to-go from Stone’s Throw Cafe in Blairmore, then get a pint and pizza at Castle Mountain Resort’s T Bar Pub & Grub. For charcuterie, tapas, and chocolate fondue, head to top-rated Encounters Wine Bar & Small Plate Kitchen in Coleman.
Day 3: Hike, Dine, and Discover the past
Start your morning right at Chris’ Restaurant (7802 17 Avenue, Coleman), known for “friendly faces & good food” since 1975. Made-to-order omelets, giant pancakes, and bottomless coffee will fuel your adventures.
Next, hike the historic Miner’s Path (2km round trip) to Rainbow Falls. This was the route taken by miners to the McGillivray Mine from 1909-1957. Other options include Chinook Lake Loop (2.3km loop) and Allison Creek Falls (2.6km round trip), in Chinook Lake Provincial Recreation Area, 15 minutes from Coleman.
Before leaving Coleman, get a famous cinnamon bun or giant cookie from Cinnamon Bear Bakery & Cafe (8342 20 Avenue, Coleman).
Heading east, visit Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to learn about life in Crowsnest Pass before, during, and after Canada’s deadliest landslide. The hands-on exhibits, audio recordings, and award-winning films honor the lives lost and commemorate the heroism and resilience of the survivors. Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an adrenaline junkie, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, the South Canadian Rockies region has something for everyone. So, grab your hiking boots and fishing rod, and hit the road!
Where to Stay
Camp at Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, Beaver Mines Lake, and Chinook Lake Provincial Recreation Area. There are also “Comfort Camping” Cabins at Beaver Mines Lake. Make reservations through Alberta Parks.
For a unique lodging experience, try Stepping Stone Cabins in Beaver Mines; or fairytale-themed cottages at Charmed Resorts in Blairmore.
The Kanata Inns - Blairmore is a wonderful home away from home with spacious, modern rooms; free continental breakfast; and a fitness room.
The Ramada in Pincher Creek is a great option for families with a swimming pool and waterslide, hot tub, gym, and free breakfast.
Pincher Creek is located 2.25 hours from Calgary/one hour from Lethbridge. Blairmore, the heart of Crowsnest Pass, is about half an hour west of Pincher Creek.
Don’t miss stunning Lundbreck Falls on your way home (1km south of Highway 3)!
Karen is a lover of maps, mountains, and mochas. With her Geography degree and experience leading hikes and backpacking trips in the Rockies, she is full of ideas on where to go and what to do. In 2013, she started the blog Play Outside Guide to provide “everything you need to know to get outside”. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook!
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