Black Prince Cirque Trail (aka Warspite Cirque)

by - Monday, May 16, 2016


Black Prince Cirque, aka Warspite Cirque, is a family-friendly trail in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park that takes you to a pretty tarn in a cirque. Start out along the crystal clear waters of Smith-Dorrien Creek, cross the new bridge, and continue uphill on an old logging road. About half the trail is on a gravel road; the second half is a forested trail.  At the fork, take the right hand trail to visit the interpretive posts in order and go with the flow of traffic (the trail can be busy in summer and ski season). 

NEW Bridge Over Smith Dorrien Creek
Old logging road
Take the right hand trail
As you approach the lake, you will find evidence of glaciation - gravel and large boulders perfect for climbing. Don't miss the tree rock! It's not every day you see full grown trees growing on a rock! Keep an eye out for adorable pikas too; many of them call these rocks home. 

Tree Rock!
Hanging out on tree rock
Soon you get glimpses of Mount Black Prince, and before you know it, you're at Warspite Lake. On a calm day, you can see perfect mountain reflections in the small tarn (tarn: mountain pond carved by glaciers). On our visit, the water was rippled by a steady breeze, but the view was still fantastic. We clambered on the rocks for a good hour before heading down and the kids are already asking when we'll go back! By late summer, the water is mostly dried up, so try to visit in July.

Warspite Lake

Warspite Lake

A good place to put your feet up
Heading Back - lots of snow in sections, but some is avoidable.

Mount Black Prince Cirque At a Glance 

Distance: 4.3 km
Elevation Gain:  90 m
Time: Allow 2-3 hours if hiking with small children
Washrooms: Outhouses at the trailhead
Stroller Friendly? Yes, but some parts might be tight for a double Chariot.
Geocaches: There is one small geocache near Warspite Lake. Download and store cache data at home as there is no cell service on the trail.
Winter Use: This is a great trail for snowshoeing and cross country skiing (light touring or backcountry skis recommended). DO NOT PASS WARSPITE LAKE AS THERE IS SIGNIFICANT AVALANCHE DANGER BEYOND THE LAKE.

Directions: From Calgary, take Highway 1 west to the Highway 40 South turnoff. Continue for 50 km. Turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail, then after 2.2 km turn right on Smith-Dorrien Trail. Continue for 8.2 km until you reach Mount Black Prince Cirque Day Use Area.

Trailhead: The trail starts to the right of the outhouses (there is a trailhead sign and map).

Black Prince Cirque Trail Map
For More Information: Download the interpretive brochure before you go to learn about the forces that shaped the land, both natural and human. 

Fun Fact: Mount Black Prince Cirque is named after a World War 1 Battleship that took part in the 1916 Battle of Jutland. But just who was the Black Prince? Edward of Woodstock, an "exceptional military leader", was known as the Black Prince for the black armor he wore. (Source)

With its proximity to campgrounds, short distance and moderate elevation gain, Black Prince Cirque is a good choice for a family hike in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Just be prepared for snow and mud in spring!


More Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Hikes

For more dramatic scenery, be sure to try Ptarmigan Cirque once the winter gate on Highway 40 opens.

If you'd like to do a longer hike, Rawson Lake is our favorite mid-distance hike in the area (8 km return).

For minimal elevation gain, but nice views, try the Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes lakeshore trails.

More Great Short Hikes

West Wind Pass Trail, Spray Lakes
The BEST Short Hikes Near Calgary (less than 4 km and 1 hr from Calgary)
Ptarmigan Cirque - The Best Short Hike in Kananaskis (opens June 15)
4 Springs Hikes in Banff: Johnson Lake, Johnston Canyon, Tunnel Mountain, Fenland Loop
Bow Valley Provincial Park: Middle Lake, Montane, Many Springs
Flowing Water Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

You May Also Like

0 comments

Join the conversation!