Summit Elevation (m): 2119
Trip Date: Friday, September 18 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 785
Round Trip Time (hr): 3
Total Trip Distance (km): 9
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your ego
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking along a trail most of the way. Some folks might not love the hard-pack dirt just under the summit if in light footwear.
Technical Rating: TL3/OT3; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
The fall season in the Alberta Rockies doesn’t last long. Two, maybe three weeks of prime conditions quickly gives way to snow at elevation and naked larch trees lower down. After a stellar summer it looked like we were in for an “Armageddon” fall with forest fire smoke from the USA and some local fires choking millions of people from the west to almost the east coast of Canada. Needless to say, our lungs weren’t the only ones choking – so were any views from any peaks. BUT. Unfortunately for me, I had Friday the 18th of September booked off and the weather was looking pretty darn good. I could have cancelled my day and worked but that wasn’t going to happen. As stated earlier, fall is a bloody short season and I was going to take advantage no matter what. I’m not stupid however, so I canceled any prime objectives and decided it was as good a time as any to bag a bunch of low priority peaks and ridges in David Thompson Country. I have had gorgeous views of Abraham Lake in the past (Abraham Mountain, Mount Michener) so a few days of hazy views wouldn’t be so bad. Half way through the trip I still found myself wishing for better views but that’s for “future Vern” to worry about…
The trail to Allstones Lake (where tons of folks seem to random camp) is marked on the west side of the highway near the trees. I parked at the road near the pullout around 09:00 on Friday after the long drive from Calgary through Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg. It was bloody smoky, the haze was so thick I almost didn’t bother bringing my good camera along. There is no rocket science to this fairly easy hike. I followed the trail as it started steeply up through light forest before contouring around the south end of the ridge towards the lake.
I actually ascended what I have marked as the descent option for some reason. I guess I was in a hurry to see no views from the summit or something. The summit of Allstones Ridge has lovely views but I didn’t get them. Please see Matt Clay’s photos for reference of what they should look like on a clear day. I’m going to be referencing Matt’s photos a lot over the next few trip reports! After a short break I descended what should be the ascent route to check out the lake below.
The lake had one tent on the north end, despite tons of sticks and ribbons pointing folks to the south end. Maybe this is a distraction technique to leave the north end quieter? The lake was lovely and still in the morning air. On descent I ran into dozens of people on day hikes and more than a few backpackers obviously going to camp at the lake for the weekend. I can’t say that Allstones Lake would be a pristine, quiet backpacking destination with all these people camping there!
I liked this short hike. It’s a great family option too. Be aware of some hard-pack dirt to the summit that folks in light footwear such as runners or flip-flops (!!) might not enjoy if they’re not used to slippery trails that are this well used. Just don’t expect solitude unless you’re up and at it early in the day.