The original Guide to Hiking Trails in the vicinity of Storm Mountain Lodge was published in 1978. The text and design was created by then lodge co-owner Jim Thorsell.
After the lodge changed ownership, the book was out of print for three decades. Many things changed over that time. Mountains were renamed (Mt Eisenhower was rechristened Castle Mtn), new trails were created, and some old trails disappeared.
In 2015, lodge owner Kim Fraser asked me to revise and recreate the book for lodge guests. Kim provided a cabin at Storm Mountain Lodge, and I ranged out each day to hike and rephotograph the trails contained in the original guide.
In reproducing the book, I retained as much of the original content as possible. This includes most of Jim’s text and the overview map. I had a few copies of the book reprinted in a larger format and colour, including a hardcover edition for the main lodge.
Since the book is out-of-print, and with the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim Fraser gave me permission to provide an eBook (pdf) version. By clicking on the link below the cover (below), you can download the pdf of the guide to Kindle or other platforms. (It reads like a book on an iPad or larger format tablet.)
Storm Mountain Lodge as basecamp
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to stay in several historic backcountry lodges and Alpine Club of Canada huts. It’s a real luxury to complete day hikes and return to tasty, home-cooked meals and a warm bed.
But I’ve only had the good fortune to stay in one historic, roadside camp—Storm Mountain Lodge. Storm was built by the CPR as a small log lodge with six outlying cabins in 1922, just prior to the opening of the Banff-Windermere Highway through Kootenay Park the following year.
It was known as Castle Mountain Bungalow Camp during its early days. With a wide variety of trails in the vicinity, and road access to quickly reach trailheads, it soon became popular with hikers. Most famously, the Sky Line Hikers used the lodge as its final destination and farewell-dinner locale for its annual hike, a multi-day trek from Sunshine Camp on the Bow Valley Highline trail in August, 1935.
For a brief period after World War II, and the renaming of Castle Mountain, it was known as Mount Eisenhower Lodge. But eventually it took the name from the prominent 3161m mountain that overshadows the lodge across the road to the south.
Ownership of the lodge has passed through a number of hands over the years. But with the exception of indoor plumbing, the original cabins retain their original rustic charm. And it was always a place to stop for a bite to eat, even for non-guests (in the “old” days, we frequently enjoyed pie-and-ice cream after a hike).
In recent years, it became a popular spot for a gourmet dining, and folks from Banff would often book a table and make the 37-km drive for an evening meal.
Storm in the COVID-19 era
I can’t imagine a better place to stay during the current pandemic. The individual cabins are perfect for couples or families to self-isolate after a day on the trail. There is a take-out window for food to-go, and meals are delivered to the cabins.
Staying at the lodge, you also have the luxury of timing hikes for early morning or evening, when most of these popular trails are less crowded.
The only loss during COVID-19 is access to the historic lodge and the rustic, dining room that looks out over the Bow Valley to Castle Mountain.
The lodge is scheduled to open for the summer on April 30, 2021. Check out stormmountainlodge.com for operation updates for the coming season.