The hike around Middle Lake is easy at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.
This easy hike at Middle Lake in Bow Valley Provincial Park is ideal for beginning hikers, recent transplants to the Calgary area, or for families with young children. Bow Valley Provincial Park is accessed from the TransCanada Highway west of Calgary by the exit to Hwy 1X followed by a left turn into the clearly-signed park entrance. The Visitor Centre provides an important map for the park and a Middle Lake Trail interpretive brochure. This small, but geographically unique, scenic park contains several unique and fascinating features. The paved road past the entrance to the Bow Valley Provincial Park Visitor Centre twists and turns its way through forest, with periodic, amazing, mountain views, to the well-signed parking area for Middle Lake.
The beginning of the 2.2 KM (1⅜ mile), relatively flat hike at Middle Lake takes a right jog to an interesting interpretive plaque on a raised area with a view over Middle Lake to the mountains beyond in the Bow Valley Corridor at Canmore, Alberta. The trail begins to the left, past the trail-head sign, and skirts the east shore of Middle Lake before continuing along to a numbered interpretive loop beyond the south end of the lake. Views across Middle Lake to Goat Mountain and Yamnuska are impressive.
Interesting interpretive plaques on the rise explain the origin of Middle Lake in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
Middle Lake, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
The trail skirts the rustic east shoreline of Middle Lake and enters forest at the first interpretive marker. The main trail is central to a large number of intersecting but less significant game trails use by local animals to access the lake. The direction of travel on the loop trail at Middle Lake, combined with surface topography, alter the nature of the forest. The terrain is remarkably diverse within short distances.
Montane forest areas are mixed with open meadow. Interpretive stop # 7 features an old Douglas Fir tree, hundreds of years old, which provides a micro community within the overall forest in a perpetually changing habitat. At stop # 9, an off trail path leads into a large, open meadow which is surrounded by surrounding mountains peeking over the edge of surrounding forest.
An off trail path to an open area at Middle Lake provides an excellent opportunity to capture a video of surrounding mountains peeking above the tree line at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
This video, taken at a meadow near the south end of Middle Lake, illustrates the beauty of the surrounding mountains on a sunny, warm day with a cool, moderating breeze. Prairie crocus are blooming in the meadow under the sun. The delicate flowers complement the rugged surrounding terrain.
The Middle Lake Interpretive Trail returns to the shoreline and turns right with amazing mountain views and copious bird activity to be temporarily interrupted by forest near the end of loop.
Back at the trail-head sign, there is the opportunity to hike along the north side of Middle Lake to another viewing bench where an interpretive plaque provides the description for a kettle pond. The trail then branches out to the main road with access to the Elk Flats Trail.
There are excellent views across Middle Lake to Yates Mountain. A peninsula jutting out into Middle Lake harbors dozens of ducks and the air is filled with the musical chirping of many different birds. An old bone occupies trail side to be rediscovered and relocated many times again.
The short drive proceeds past Many Springs to the large parking area at Whitefish where lunch in the sun is beside the emerald Bow River framed by spectacular and image-consuming tall mountains. The Middle Lake hike is educational and relaxing.
Photos for this post were taken on May 12, 2014.