Trailhead: Park in the Cat Creek recreation area parking lot 129kms west of Calgary located on Highwood Trail #40 highway. Note: Highway #40 is closed at the Upper Lakes and Highwood House Junction from Dec 1st to June 14th for wildlife preservation.
Description: Absolutely stunning and well worth a long days effort. This is a popular mountain bike and equestrian trail. You will have to cross the Highwood River so expect to get your feet wet. Locate the old logging road next to the #40 highway leading down towards the Highwood River. Follow the logging road for approximately 2kms. Cross the Highwood river and take the logging road to your right, the left road leads to beautiful Carnarvon Lake.
Stay on the road for approximately 3.7kms until you reach an intersection with an old logging road leading down to your left. Avoid the road to your left and continue on the road to your right. Make lots of noise and keep your eye’s out for bears. All the valleys located in this area are prime Grizzly Bear habitat. Keep going up the McPhail valley another 3.5kms until you reach an outfitters camp next to McPhail Creek.
From here the trail turns into a single track. Keep going for approximately 1km passing an intersecting trail off to your right which leads up to Hill Of The Flowers. Continue on until you reach a small clearing located near a few beaver ponds. Stash your bikes here and follow the trail towards the forest below the headwall as it gains more elevation. Pass by an alien looking hoodoo, quite possibly the most interesting hoodoo in Alberta until you reach a small lookout and junction below the headwall.
Stay left and head for a small grove of trees right below the headwall. Continue on past a waterfall then up through a small grove of spruce trees. Hike up and over the rock slaps to the top of the headwall. As you crest the headwall, Lake of The Horns lies at your feet. The lakes name was derived from the abundance of Horn Fossils that were found here long ago.
The lake is crystal clear and a Caribbean blue color cradled between the steep faces of Mount McPhail and Horned Mountain. The Alberta British Columbia boundary runs along the mountains ridge. Lake Of The Horns is stocked with Cutthroat Trout however their growth rate is very slow due to the lack of food at higher elevations. There is no room for camping at the lake. You can camp near McPhail Creek near the bottom of the headwall.