Mount Black Prince Cirque, also known as Warspite Lake, is a family-friendly trail in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park that takes you to a pretty tarn in a cirque.
Black Prince Cirque Route Description
Start out along the crystal clear waters of Smith-Dorrien Creek, cross the 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 one-way trail can be busy in summer and ski season).
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.
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.
If you’re looking for larches, there are some around the right side of the lake in mid to late September.
Mount Black Prince Cirque At a Glance
Distance: 4.3 km round trip
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 (IN WINTER CONDITIONS) 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).
For More Information
Download the Alberta Parks Interpretive Brochure before you go to learn about the forces that shaped the land, both natural and human.
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 Great Short Hikes
- Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Camping & Hiking Guide
- The BEST Short Hikes Near Calgary
- Ptarmigan Cirque – The Best Short Hike in Kananaskis
- West Wind Pass
- The Best Spring and Fall Hikes in Banff
- Bow Valley Provincial Park Recreation Guide
- Tiger Lily Loop, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park