The Table Mountain hike in Castle Provincial Park is aptly named. That’s right, it looks like a tabletop at the summit! You’ll find a completely different experience compared to hikes in Canmore or Banff. This is one Southern Alberta trail that wholeheartedly deserves to be on your list.
Hiking in this part of Alberta, a couple of hours south of Calgary, offers a completely different experience from trails in Banff or Canmore. So trade the classics for something new and exciting like the Table Mountain hike. You’ll be in for a great workout with expansive views—what could be better?
About the Table Mountain Hike
Location: Beaver Mines Lake Campground, Castle Provincial Park
Distance: 12 km out and back
Elevation: 760 metre gain
Time: Approx. 4 – 5 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but must be kept on leash.
Features: Table Mountain is renowned for its table-like summit, perfect for those Instagrammable shots. You know what they say: Come for social media but stay for spectacular natural beauty (I’m being cheeky…). Whatever your motivation, these have got to be some of the best views in Southern Alberta!
Quick Stop: Lundbreck Falls
Waterfall, anyone? If you’re driving from Calgary, I highly recommend stopping at Lundbreck Falls about 30 minutes north of the Table Mountain trailhead. This is a beautifully impressive set of waterfalls, and you may even find locals swimming on a hot summer day. Okay, enough about these majestic falls (but you should definitely stop). Now let’s go to Table Mountain!
Read more: 10 Waterfalls in Alberta That You Should See
Finding the Trailhead
Table Mountain’s trailhead is in Beaver Mines Lake Campground. From Calgary, the drive is about 2.5 hours along the Cowboy Trail (Highway 22). That’s basically the distance from Calgary to Lake Louise—easily done as a day trip!
Finding the trailhead was quite straightforward, with new signs in the campground that are impossible to miss (even for me…). You can park at Day Use on the left, or continue to the second parking area. There’s no parking fee. And if you’re staying at the campground, the trailhead is within walking distance or get your camping buddy to drive you (that’s what I did… had to save my legs for the trail!).
The Table Mountain Hike
One of the great things about Table Mountain is that it can be a relatively quiet trail. In late August, I was one of the only hikers for most of the morning. However, with its rising popularity, it could be busier in high-traffic summer months (which is great for solo hikers who want other people around). So choose when to do this trail based on your personal preference.
I set out first thing to summit Table Mountain after a night at Beaver Mines Lake. The inspiration for this hike came from HikeBikeTravel, where I often find ideas for new hikes, paddles, and camping trips. The photos were too good to pass up!
You’ll start with a well-signed section (“Table Mountain Trail”) that starts off flat but quickly gains elevation through the woods to enter Castle Wildland Provincial Park. After the trees, the trail flattens out for a minute to enjoy some nice views. Then the trail climbs until you reach the tabletop. Follow the red markers and you’ll have no trouble staying on the trail. There is a very steep section or an alternate route that most people would prefer (I didn’t notice until halfway up the steep, so I just committed).
Too Steep or Not Too Steep?
Once passed the creek bed, there’s a choice to make. There’s an established trail that’s straight up, but another off to the left that gradually ascends. I didn’t see the more moderate option at first, so I went with the absolute slog (but this makes a fun scree run on the descent!).
There are a couple of areas that could be considered a scramble, but overall it’s a steady hike until the top. Be sure to bring your camera for some great shots of the area. Or just soak it all in.
You won’t find much water on this trail, so bring enough for the day. A reminder that this is bear country, so bear spray and wildlife deterrents (such as an airhorn) are critical. And remember to bring a windbreaker and warm layers—those Southern Alberta winds can bite!
Okay, it’s summit time! After the steep climb to the top, the summit is within your grasp. Right away the incredible views to the west will hit you in the face. You might even consider that the hard labour of the trail was actually worth it (and you’d be right!).
At this point, there are still a couple of kilometres to the true summit. The rest of the hike is quite gentle and it’s worth continuing on. When I was there, several people turned around once they made it to the initial peak, but I’d recommend the extra distance.
Thanks for reading all about Table Mountain! Have you hiked here? What was it like for you? Let me know in the comments below.
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