Karst Spring Trail
Enjoy the slideshow tour of the Karst Springs Trail bellow, and don't forget to scroll down for more information!
Total Time: 3.5 - 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 258 meters
Total Distance: ~10km
Getting There: From Canmore, the drive to the Mount Shark parking lot takes about an hour. But consider planning for some stop-and-stare time. The Smith Dorrien Trail (HWY 742) takes you along the Spray Lakes Reservoir with spectacular Lake Louise caliber views of turquoise waters surrounded by the rugged mountains. A good part of the drive is among gravel road that is moderately well maintained with a handful of rough spots. You might want to give yourself some extra time if you aren't comfortable driving on it. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled during the drive for wildlife - its easy to miss if you're driving with horse-blinders on. We've seen goats, deer, and elk, but it's also possible to catch sight of a bear.
Starting Point: The Watridge Lake Trail from the Mount Shark Day Use Area.
The hike starts on the Watridge Lake Trail, which is wide and road-like. This is a great area to spot beautiful deer and wildflowers. The horizon line is hemmed in by mountains on all sides, making this easy walk tug at your heartstrings a little. The early part of the Watridge Lake Trail has lots of other trails which function as cross country ski routes in the winter. These can be a fun way to add some distance to your hike, but it's worth making sure you have a photo of the trail map on display at the Mount Shark parking lot, as it's a bit of a maze. If you continue passed the Karst Trail, you enter into the backcountry where random camping is allowed (with a permit). Walk far enough, and you'll enter British Columbia!
To get to Karst Spring, take the Watridge trail for about 3.82km (approximately 53 minutes of walking), and you'll see the road fork to your right by a trail sign marking your location. A distance of about 0.17km (about 4 min of walking) there is a path to a viewpoint of the lake. This is a wonderful spot to sit and have a snack, pull out your binoculars, and enjoy the sights and sounds. The water appears shallow and crystal clear, and the sense of solitude is marvelous.
Continue on the Karst Trail to Karst Springs. It's about 2km to the source of the Karst Spring. It starts along a charming boardwalk through the bog, then continues with an easy nature trail, goes uphill walk for about 5min, and ends with an easy walkway. The trail has two great benches where you can sit and drink it all in.