Contributed by Paul Krystof
Location: Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park
Round trip: 15 km
Start elevation: 2200 m
Final Elevation: 2880 m
Maps: 1:50,000): 82O/4, 82 J/13, 82 J/14
The area is roughly 30 kilometres away from the nearest road. Several ways of access are possible including backpacking in from either Sunshine meadows ski area west of Banff or from Mount Shark trailhead south of Canmore, Alberta. An alternate way may be to arrive by helicopter, from the Mount Shark area. This service caters to the Mount Assiniboine lodge patrons but anyone can book through the lodge
PARTIAL PLANT LIST
The Assiniboine Provincial Park area is an excellent location for a multi day get-away during which numerous day trips may be taken to spectacular Rocky Mountains vistas where the views and varied overall outdoor experience rival the best anywhere.
The park itself is located within British Columbia but is best accessed through the Banff National Park in Alberta. Mount Cautley lies in the eastern most tip of the Mount Assiniboine Park with the provincial boundary bisecting it. Even though the mountain can be approached from the west at various points, somewhat more defined trails only exist from the Wonder Pass area or at the O’Brien Meadows which is near the Assiniboine Pass. It is best to enquire at the Ranger Station or the Mount Assiniboine Lodge for up to date trail information.
Mount Cautley is 2880 metres in elevation but it’s lower reaches on the west side start at 2200 metres and are made up of sub alpine forest of spruce and alpine larch quickly giving way to meadows as the elevation increases. The flowers are at their best usually at the end of July and beginning of August particularly the Castilleja, Epilobium, Erigeron, Senecio, Potentilla, Pulsatilla, Pedicularis, Valeriana, amongst others.
As the altitude climbs the vegetation becomes more compact in height and higher elevation species reveal their presence such as: Tonestus (Haplopappus ) lyallii , Saussurea densa, Oxytropis podocarpa, Silene uralensis, Saxifraga cernua, Saxifraga caespitosa, Saxifraga adscendens var. oregonensis, Erigeron aureus, Gentiana prostrata, Papaver kluanensis, Myosotis alpestris. Near the ridge may be found various Drabas, Smelowskia calycina, Crepis nana, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Erigeron lanatus and other flora of the high country.
The views from the ridge are breathtaking in all directions as Mount Assiniboine and Lake Magog dominate the southwest. The rocky escarpments of the Cascade Rock and Rock of Gibraltar are within reach with their sheer drops down to the valley below on the Alberta side of the ridge and more distant mountain peaks and lakes in all directions.