The Bald Hills is a moderate snowshoe adventure on the west side of the shores of Maligne Lake. There are no technical challenges and it can be done when avalanches are making other trips dangerous to complete. If avalanche danger is high or if you are not prepared you do not want to go past the first hill top that you get to. There is the optional high point that can be reach but it does pass through and into avalanche terrain.
Bald Hills Trip Log
As you drive towards Maligne Lake the main parking lot on the left hand side is closed. Follow the road as it continues on over the bridge and eventually reaches the second parking lot with a trailhead kiosk on your right hand side. You should see a large sign stating the Maligne Lake Warden Station is further down the road. Park at parking lot and head up to the kiosk; it will say Bald Hills and also have an overview map with an avalanche warning to stay away from the upper slopes.
The trail itself starts off as a gentle incline. It appears Bald Hills gets enough traffic that the main trail is nice and compact and at this point I did not need to actually dawn the snowshoes. Mind you if you stepped off the center path you were waist deep in snow very quickly. About 280 meters from the trail head kiosk there is a sign with a small trail that shoots off to the left. Do not take this trail, continue on the wider on you are presently walking on.
As you continue on towards the summit, the grade of the trail increases as well. Eventually it becomes a good uphill trek as you plod your way up hill. About 2.3km from the previous side trail; you will come across your choice of ascent route.
If you go left, it is time to put on the snow shoes if you have not already. The trail has no remorse and goes up at a very steep angle. If you go right the ascent is a little more gradual but it adds on about an extra kilometer.
With the lack of physical output last year I wasn’t feeling too excited going up the steep portion and decided to go right for the ascent and the steep portion for the descent.
Now the incline does subside a little bit so it is no longer as steep. I falsely believed that this would be the incline until the top but I was mistaken. At about 750 meters past the shortcut to get to the top of Bald Hills you will come across a fork in the trail, the right takes you to Evelyn Creek Skyline Trail, and the left is to continue to the top of Bald Hills. You will want to go left naturally.
The trails incline does increase again and keeps you going uphill. While the extra kilometer does seem a little wasted on initial consideration, the view of the nearby mountains on the longer way is actually very pleasant.
Once the trail levels out a little you are a little less than a kilometer away from the top. This section offers the best views on the longer route. Trowel Peak and the Maligne Range to the North are the most pronounced mountains viewed from the trail. The post holing got to the point where it was now actually frustrating so I ended up putting the snowshoes on at this point. It made travel considerably easier as the snow pack towards the top was quite a bit softer then at the base.
Once it returns to going uphill, the trees open up around you for the final push to the top.
The end of the trail is a little less evident than I expected. At the top there is what appears to be a long wooden hitching rail that one would use to tie off horses to. From the previous photos I’ve seen I expected the top to have a lot less trees and I actually walked around in circles to make sure I was at the top. The photos I’ve seen online were evidently zoomed in a bit to clear the trees.
Now you could continue on to the higher point due southwest but between my buggered up ankle and the snow pack on the slope not looking great, it was smarter for me to not attempt it that day. It is quite a bit more elevation and takes you above the tree line. There is an avalanche danger involved so it is not recommended without additional knowledge and in a group.
To make your way down the shortcut route, you continue on straight South from the hitching rail and you will see a well-defined trail heading straight down the slope. Alternatively you may head back the way you came up.
To make a loop of the trail, head south from the hitching rail. About a hundred or so meters you'll come to an intersection. Left brings you back down from Bald Hills, straight will take you to the high point.
The route down via the shortcut is relatively straight. The snow pack had considerable depth to it and even with snowshoes I was sinking in quite a bit. Going down the short cut versus going up did offer nice views of Maligne Lake and the nearby mountain ranges. Continue on downwards until it meets back up with the original trail.
GPS Plotted Route
Above is an overview of the trail with the loop being conducted. Personally I would suggest doing it counter clockwise as you get the most for your view. The descent of the shortcut gives you an overview of the mountains and Maligne Lake instead of staring at the snowy hillside as you slug your way upwards.
The loop was done counter clockwise. Roughly from about 2.2km to the 7km mark on the graph is the loop. The longer way does add about a kilometer to the overall length to the summit. If energy is abundant and time is short, beetle up the shortcut there and back for a quick day!
Click here to download the GPS route in GPX format. You may have to right click and select "Save Link As" if your browser does not download it automatically. Be sure to save it as a .gpx file.
What were your experiences snowshoeing Bald Hills?
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