Pocaterra Cirque


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Distance - 7.12km round-trip Elevation gain - 176m net, about twice that cumulative
1.5 hours (moving) out, and 1.5 hours return

The Pocaterra Cirque trail starts from the Highwood Pass, and ascends to a larch-filled cirque.
We leave the pass and start gaining elevation through the forest.
We must ascend over the hill, then down the other side into the valley.

The start of the Highwood Meadows trail.

A look up across the road at Ptarmigan Cirque.

The trail moves into the forest.

Lush vegetation in the forest.

The trail breaks out on the other side of the forest. Pocaterra Ridge ahead in the middle.

Once we make it out of the trees, the trail winds along the hillside, through the first stand of larch, and up to a small tarn.

Looking back at the hillside.

Hiking with a view up the valley.

Looking up the cirque, the trees are just starting to turn.

Ascending the hillside.

Hiking up the slope.

The group passes the very low tarn.


A few yellow trees peek out of the larch.

Fireweed brings a great red to the fall colours.

Hiking above the tarn.

The group follows the trail.

We stopped to watch a pika gather some food and dart back into the rocks.

Inside the cirque, the paths immediately diverge. Right (north) goes towards Pocaterra Ridge and Little Highwood Pass, while left heads for Grizzly Col.
Either is a nice option to explore the cirque, but we headed left.

The trail fork.

Pocaterra Cirque to the north.

Our trail winding up the hillside to the south.

Breaking out into the upper level of the cirque.

The group pauses to enjoy the view.

The final stands of trees.

Pano from within the cirque. Pocaterra Ridge in the centre.

Yellow-gold larches in the upper cirque.

Looking towards Little Highwood Pass.

We continued up to treeline, and stopped for lunch near the beginning of the rocks.

The group hikes into the rockpile.

The route up towards Grizzly Col.

The near-vertical layers in the rock stand out from the colourful hillside.

More rocky ribs.

After lunch, we returned the same way.

Hiking out of the rocks.

The path back down.

Little Highwood Pass and Pocaterra Ridge.

The gateway out of the cirque.

The trail heads through some larch.

A look up to Grizzly Ridge overhead.

Fall colours lower down.

Beautiful fall hiking.

The trees in this area are damaged from winter avalanches.

Back at the tarn.

The group hikes down to the tarn.

Colourful hillside before we reenter the trees.

The trail heads into the forest.

Female Spruce Grouse (dendragapus canadensis)

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly (aglais milberti)

Photos taken by Rachel

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