Summit Elevation (m): 1585
Trip Date: May 29 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 440
Round Trip Time (hr): 3.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 8.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you bruise your ego
Difficulty Notes: One of the easiest summits you can do in the Rockies. Guaranteed.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps
After scrambling Prairie Bluff and hiking Mount Backus the day before, the kids and I woke up on Sunday in the mood for a nice hike but not much else. Naturally we wanted a summit but we didn’t want to work too hard for it. As it turns out, we got TWO summits for the effort of HALF a summit. This way of bagging peaks is so much easier than doing hard work like Forbes a few weeks ago. Of course I partially jest, but it is fun to do nice easy hiking and peak bagging once in a while and doing it with my kids provides me with as much satisfaction as the big remote summits do. Maybe even a tiny bit more? It helps that they let me take millions of flower pics too.
The idea for Mount Baldy and Albert came from Bob Spirko who has done a number of ridges and peaks in the Castle Wilderness Area over the years. Bob listed the total height gain for the Baldy / Albert loop as only 250 meters but I doubted that number when I looked at the map. It turns out that I was right – it’s almost double that figure so I’m not sure how Bob did his numbers. Either way this is not a trip for anyone who needs huge effort to feel good about a day in the hills. This is a trip for family or groups of friends who want to spend as much time photographing flowers as hiking. Because there is a ton of wildflowers along the way.
I’ve never been to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park before and I must say that just as I was for the Beaver Mines Recreational Area, I was duly impressed with the area. We didn’t check out the camping sites but I bet they’re pretty decent given how well maintained the hiking trail were. There are a lot of hiking trails in the park – your best bet is to download the .pdf map or the .pdf map with guide and a GPS or you could easily get turned around. A lot of the trails we were on seemed to be xcountry ski trails in the winter and were marked with orange diamond placards nailed to trees. The signs that were meant to be maps were a bit obscure as they only had a bunch of route lines and markers showing where you currently were – good enough to get you back to your car but not really helpful without labels!
We started out from the Beaver Creek Day Use parking lot, heading towards the Upper Smith Homestead via the Homestead Group Use Area. We turned right at the Lower Smith Homestead before walking through the group area (nobody there) and then left up a wide xcountry ski trail that had a large propane tank and small shed at its base. From here we gained height while switching trails a few times – I was glad to have Bob’s GPS track for this section! We spent a lot of time photographing the local flora – there were a ton of wildflowers along the entire route.
The upper Smith homestead consisted of a dilapidated log cabin surrounded by long grass gently blowing in the wind, wildflower meadows and million dollar views – I can see why the Smith family built their home here! I searched for more information on this family and only found the following online news article which I assume is at least partially about the “Smith” family that was responsible for the two Smith homestead cabins that we saw. Since the Charles and Mary Rose Smith family consisted of 17 children I’m pretty sure at least some of them may have settled near Beauvais Lake.
From the upper Smith homestead we continued upwards on a series of trails to the rounded summit of Baldy. It was indeed, bald – something we were seriously doubting on the way up through all the trees. The huge tower at the summit was offset by a very comfortable bench which we put to good use. The views were much better than expected – I especially enjoyed the view up Gladstone Creek and towards Table Mountain which included green valleys, a couple of ranch buildings and rolling hills.
After taking in the summit it was time to trek on to Mount Albert which was rising to the southeast.