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Canada Hiking

Castle Mountain Lookout: Everything You Need to Know

June 29, 2017
Castle Mountain Lookout, Banff National Park, hike
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Castle Mountain Lookout is an area within Banff National Park that’s most famous for the Castle Mountain Lookout trail. Besides the hiking trail, there are also campgrounds and chalets nearby, making Castle Mountain a great place to stay.

I was most excited to visit Castle Mountain so I could hike Castle Mountain Lookout trail. I heard the hike was supposed to have amazing views over the Canadian Rockies.

Basically, “they” were right. It’s beautiful.

Castle Mountain is considered one of the most picturesque peaks in the Bow Valley with its castle-like face and beautiful colors. For Banff National Park hikes, the Castle Mountain Lookout trail hike is relatively short. And again, so worth it for those amazing views.

I’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know when visiting Castle Mountain Lookout. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Castle Mountain Lookout Trail: Everything You Need to Know

What is Castle Mountain Lookout?

Castle Mountain Lookout used to be one of many locations where a fire tower was placed to detect flames throughout Banff National Park. Although the tower has since been removed, Castle Mountain Lookout trail continues to be a popular day hike within the park.

Castle Mountain Lookout Location

The Castle Mountain Lookout trail is located between downtown Banff National Park and Lake Louise. The trailhead is approximately 5 km northwest of Castle Junction on Highway 1A. While driving along this road you will find a designated parking area.

I found it to be slightly challenging to find the Castle Mountain Lookout trailhead so I’ve included this map for you.

Castle Mountain Chalet

The Castle Mountain Chalets are a great option when visiting Banff National Park. I would say they are truly an authentic Canadian Rocky Mountain experience. 🙂

The Castle Mountain chalet offers luxury rustic chalet accommodations beautifully located between downtown Banff National Park and Lake Louise.  

Castle Mountain Hostel

Castle Mountain hostel is your typical hostel offering dorm beds and a cozy lounge area. 

It offers free coffee and tea in the morning and even includes showers. Some hostels in Banff National Park don’t, so this is a nice treat. 

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Castle Mountain Campground

Staying at the Castle Mountain campground is a great option! I love to camp, and it can be such a fun way to spend time in the mountains. 🙂

Castle Mountain Campground Pros:

  • Fire pits – Each campsite has a firepit
  • Communal camp kitchen shelter – This shelter contains a wood burning cooking stove
  • Castle Junction is nearby – Closeby you’ll find a small store, gas station, and restaurant

Castle Mountain Campground Cons:

  • No water or electricity – As with most campgrounds and hostels within Banff National Park, there is no running water or electricity. I’ve complained about it, hopefully they’ll hear me and do something about this. (at least give us running water! lol)
  • No reservations – Castle Mountain Lookout campground only operates on a first come, first serve basis

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Castle Mountain Lookout Trail

The Castle Mountain Lookout hike is relatively short at only 3.7km (2.2 miles) one way. However, don’t be fooled. It is quite steep, and you will be gaining roughly 436 meters (1430 feet) in elevation.

Despite the difficulty, the Castle Mountain summit is extremely rewarding. I would highly recommend expending the effort for these amazing views of the Canadian Rockies.

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Before reaching the Castle Mountain Lookout summit, you will cross a small creek where there is a beautiful view of the valley. I personally found this spot to be more beautiful than the actual summit.

 

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

After a few switchbacks, the path will open up to a clearing of the Castle Mountain Lookout summit. You’ve made it! Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy that view over the Canadian Rockies.

Thankfully because of the steep climb up Castle Mountain, the return trip is all downhill. This made for a faster and more pleasant return.

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

I hope you enjoy your visit to Castle Mountain! It is a beautiful area within Banff National Park and definitely worth seeing. And don’t forget! You must hike Castle Mountain Lookout trail, you won’t regret it! 😉

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Read More

How to Spend a Weekend in Banff National Park (in the Summertime!)

Tips for Visiting Lake Louise in the Summer

A Guide to Hiking Johnston Canyon & the Ink Pots

20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Moraine Lake

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Castle Mountain Lookout chalet and Castle Mountain Lookout campground

Have you hiked Castle Mountain Lookout? Love to know in the comments below! 

TIFFANY NICOLE

Tiffany created Lavender Vines as a place to share her love for Jesus and adventures from around the world. She has a slight obsession with salted caramel lattes, Japanese kimonos, and an ongoing love affair with NYC and Paris.

  • Reply
    AK
    June 29, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Does this hike have post-ice cream as well? (that is a deciding factor when I go on hikes)

    • Tiffany Nicole
      Reply
      Tiffany Nicole
      June 29, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Post ice cream for purchase…yes! I had the maple walnut flavor, delicious! Xx

  • Reply
    Estella Catron
    July 20, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Canada does it right with ice cream at the end!!

    • Tiffany Nicole
      Reply
      Tiffany Nicole
      July 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      They really do!

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