Watridge Lake / Karst Spring

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Distance - 4.8km one-way, Elevation gain - ~250m

The hike to Watridge Lake is an easy one, but well worthwhile.
The trail begins at Mount Shark Parking Lot, and starts out on an old logging road which dwindles to a ski trail.
A few creek crossings have large sturdy bridges, and the trail is shared with mountain bikers and the occasional horse, as well as Assinniboine-bound backpackers.

Hiking along the fire road approaching Marushka Creek.

Watridge Creek.

View of Old Goat Mountain and Mount Nestor from a cutblock.

Marsh feeding Watridge Creek.

After a relatively flat walk, a short turnoff leads to Watridge Lake - a stunning shallow pond below Mount Shark.
The water is crystal-clear, and a light-coloured bottom gives it the clear blue-green of the Caribbean in the sunlight.

Watridge Lake.

Watridge Lake and Shark Ridge with Mounts Morrison and Turner behind.

Cone Mountain and the north shoreline.

Bikes have to stay behind at the lake, but hikers continue by crossing the outlet marsh on nicely-laid logs.
The trail rounds the lake, then heads uphill, shortly reaching a loud, quick-flowing stream.
Hiking upstream for ~1.5km brings you to the bottom of Elizabeth falls, where the stream cascades around moss-covered boulders.
One final steem section and you reach the top of the falls, and the top of the stream - where Karst Spring pours out of an opening in the rock.
Theories vary as to the main source of the water, but it could be glacial melt in the area, as well as drainage for the Birdwood Lakes, a few kilometres south.
The water flows through small passages in the limstone (Karst system) that were made when the whole area was submerged, and re-emerges as the spring.

Boardwalk around the lake.

Elizabeth Falls below the spring.

The mass of water flowing down from above.

Karst Spring bubbles out of rock.

After enjoying your time at the spring and the lake, the return route is the same way through the middle of the Shark trail network.
In early August, we found bog orchids in full bloom at the lake, and wild strawberries out late along the trail.

Taking the road home.

Nice views open across the valley.

Mount Engadine and The Tower.

White Bog Orchid by the lake.

Wild Strawberry, fruiting late this year.

Photos taken by Rachel

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