Trailhead: From the 1A highway west of Cochrane, follow the #40 Forestry Trunk road north for approximately 25.5kms. Turn west on the Ghost River TransAlta dirt road, continue on another 15.5kms passing several random campers until you reach a road side parking lot located above the Ghost River Valley. Park here if you don’t have a 4×4 or an all wheel drive vehicle without proper height and suspension.
Description: Follow the not so bad 4×4 road down towards the river valley. Turn right and drive or walk 2.5kms along the washed out TransAlta dirt road until you reach road marker sign #37. If it’s gone or full off bullet holes aim towards Black Rock Mountains center drainage on your right. The trail head is located at the bottom of this drainage.
There is a short 200m flat section of dirt road leading straight ahead to the trailhead. Park here then cross the river bed aiming for the center of a log jammed washout. Locate the trailhead on the left side of the washout. Riverbeds were all dry early April. Going was careful to easy in a 4runner.
With poles in hand hike to Black Rock’s summit along an old horse trail that once serviced the abandoned lookout. Those who have classified it as a scramble may have gotten off route, this is a hike not a scramble. Follow the well worn trail past a back country camp spot and continue ascending through and old growth spruce and fir forest. After an hour or so you’ll pass tree line with spectacular views of the Ghost River valley, Devils Head and Mount Aylmer.
Continue ascending the talus slope until you reach the cliff base. Stay on the trail as it follows the bottom left side of the cliff then turns right ascending again up a moderate gully to an open plateau below the summit. You can now clearly see the old wooden fire lookout located on the summit and the steep scree trail straight ahead.
Meander up the plateau while enjoying incredible views of the cliff edges and the Ghost River valley below. Pick up the scree trail again as it steeply ascends another 225ms or so up the southwest face of Black Rock mountain. Wow, views from this summit are outstanding and it’s somewhat remote location will add another feather in your cap.
Black Rock offers a classic transitional view of mountains to foothills to prairies. The old fire lookout has some interesting weathered wood pieces, planks, nails and cables along with numerous signatures of those who came before you. Descend the same way you came.