After spending the last 8 weeks rehabbing from an injury, I finally received clearance from my doctors and physio therapist to attempt some ‘light’ snowshoeing. Anxious to get out, I searched for a minor objective that would test my body’s progress but still provide some semblance of adventure. That’s when I remembered an idea that my friend, Brad Wolcott, had of a winter loop that encompassed the 3 minor summits in Beauvais Lake Provincial Park: Mount Baldy, Mount Albert, and Piney Point.
So, on a windy but otherwise sunny Sunday morning, Jeff and I set off for Beauvais Lake Provincial Park near Pincher Creek to test Brad’s route. Even though all 3 summits are named, they are really only glorified hills with Mount Albert being the tallest (1620 m map; 1691 m my GPS) and most mountain-like. The trip from Mount Baldy to Mount Albert and then to Piney Point was the most enjoyable aspect of the trip as there were few signs of use by other snowshoers and the scenery was a pleasant mix of forest and panoramas. Overall, this trip ended up being just what the doctor ordered as I felt great throughout the entire 9km loop (hooray!). I would definitely recommend this as a fun winter excursion.
From Pincher Creek we followed Highway 507 west until we came to the Beauvais Lake Provincial Park turnoff (Highway 775). We followed this for 8km until we arrived at the Park entrance. Since the Homestead Group Use area was closed, we parked in the day lot at the end of the road. As Mount Baldy was our first objective, we followed the short trail from the parking lot to the Lower Smith Homestead and then northwards across the Homestead Group Use area to the Upper Smith Homestead trailhead. We followed this until we came to a ‘T’ intersection just past the homestead ruins. Here we turned right onto the Homestead Loop Trail and kept to the left when we came to a junction marked by a park bench. We continued for a short distance until we came to an ungroomed trail on our left which was the Baldy Trail. From here it was an easy 770 m walk to the summit.
From the summit of Mount Baldy we set off for Mount Albert thinking that this leg of journey would be mostly off trail. However, though a connecting trail is not identified on the park map, we discovered that one actually does exist as indicated by numerous orange diamonds nailed onto trees. Moreover, this trail does not appear to be as well used in the winter (at least on this day) and we often found ourselves searching for it in the deep snow or looking for glimpses of orange among the trees. No worries though, as the route with or without the trail was fairly obvious and after 1.68km we found ourselves on the summit of Mount Albert.
From here we followed the trail east along the ridge and then down to the base of Piney Point (1.63km) where we then left the trail to ascend open slopes to the treed summit. Since there isn’t a trail that leads to the summit of Piney Point, we bushwhacked our way north to the Christy Mines Trail and easily followed it to the Piney Point Viewpoint. As we wanted to check out the Lower Smith Homestead again, we bypassed the turnoff to the trail that led directly to the parking lot and instead, continued straight until we reached the homestead ruins. From here it was a matter of retracing our steps along the short trail back to our car.
A trail map for Beauvais Lakes Provincial Park is available here.
The total distance for this loop was 9.1km with total elevation gains of 572m. It took us 4 hours and 12 minutes to complete it. I’m not sure my GPS likes the winter as it showed us with a starting elevation of 1406m and a finishing elevation of 1367m – even though we ended up in the same location. Regardless, the elevation for Mount Baldy and Mount Albert was still significantly higher on my GPS than on the Beauvais Lake trail map.
Mount Albert comes into view as we approach Beauvais Lake Provincial Park along Highway 775.
Gearing up at the day use area. The trailhead that can be seen on the left leads to the Piney Point Viewpoint.
Jeff treks the short distance from our vehicle to the Lower Smith Homestead and the Lower Homestead Group Use area.
Just before reaching the Lower Smith Homestead (pictured) we turned right and headed northwards to the Upper Smith Homestead Trailhead.
Jeff starts up the groomed Upper Smith Homestead Trail.
We kept to the left to avoid trampling the ski tracks.
It wasn’t long before we arrived at the ruins of the Upper Smith Homestead.
We left the trail to check out the old homestead.
Even though the trailside sign was missing, I later found a copy of it online. It noted that, “William Smith came to Canada from England in 1902. One year later in 1903, William moved into the Upper Smith Homestead. William and his wife had four children while they lived there. After their return to England in 1909, the land remained unoccupied until 1922.
In 1922, William’s son Harry, along with his wife Catherine and their first son, Jake moved back into the Upper Homestead. They remained in this building for almost 30 years and in that time had an additional six children. Harry Smith and his large family finally moved from this site down to the Lower Smith Homestead in 1948.”
In this day and age, it is hard to imagine that 8 people lived in this house.
An old wash pan still hangs from the wall.
While we were checking out the homestead, a solo snowshoer and his little dog also headed up the trail towards Mount Baldy.
Shortly after leaving the Homestead Loop Trail, Jeff begins the 770m walk up Baldy Trail to the summit.
Compared to the other trails, Baldy Trail appeared to be less frequently used.
The trail steepened just before the summit.
The appearance of a radio tower signalled that we were close to the summit.
Looking to the north as we approach the summit.
A panorama to the southeast. Our next destination for the day, Mount Albert, is in the centre.
A panorama to the north highlights the transition from prairie to foothills to mountains.
Jeff snaps a few pictures from the summit.
Looking slightly northwest from the summit. From left to right: Blue Mountain, Poker Peak, Hillcrest Mountain, Byron Hill, Burmis Mountain, Turtle Mountain, Bluff Mountain, Tallon Peak, Robertson Peak, South Peak Livingstone Range, and Centre Peak.
A closer view of the Livingstone Range.
The view to the north features, Ky-es-kaghd-oghsuyiss (the Porcupine Hills).
After pausing just long enough to take a few pictures from the summit, we then set off for the summit of Mount Albert. Click to continue the trip report.