So you may be asking what is C-level Cirque? Are there any other levels, like A- or B-level? At least those were questions we were asking, even after completed the hike (clearly didn’t do my homework beforehand). Read on to learn more.
C-level Cirque Trail started from the Upper Bankhead picnic parking in the Lake Minnewanka area. The trail ascents steadily through the forest on the east side of the Cascade Mountain to one of its cirques. With the exception of a few muddy spots, the trail was in good condition with good footing.
There weren’t a lot of views to see for most of the hike until we got to the cirque, at which point we had amazing views of the headwall and the mountains across the valley. When we hiked this trail in June, there was some snow remaining in the cirque. We hiked up the trail from the viewpoint, then put on our microspikes and walk up the snow slope to find our lunch spot. It was a great place to have lunch.
What about the term “C-level?” Did you remember that this trail started from the Upper Bankhead picnic area? Bankhead, Alberta is a ghost town inside Banff National Park. In early 1900s, it was a mining town of nearly 1,000 people. Lower Bankhead was the main part of the mining operation. Upper Bankhead was the residential area. There were three levels of coal seam operations at Bankhead Mine. The A level was near the processing plant in Lower Bankhead. The B and C levels were located higher up the Cascade Mountain, with the C level being the highest. The artifacts from the previous mining building and old mine pits along this trail were those from the C-level operation, hence the name of the trail.
- Date hiked: June 12, 2017
- Hiking time: 4h 5m
- Distance: 5.5 mi round-trip (out and back)
- Elevation change: Approx. 1,600 ft gain