Network of backcountry huts coming to Castle as early as fall

A $700,000 system of backcountry huts is coming to Castle park this fall in what the Alberta government is calling a first for the provincial park system.

Construction to begin this spring marks a first for Alberta Parks, minister says

The three backcountry huts are expected to open in the fall 2018 and will form the first system of its kind for Alberta Parks. (Alberta Parks)

A $700,000 system of backcountry huts is coming to Castle Wildland Provincial Park this fall in what the Alberta government is calling a first for the provincial park system.

Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips made the announcement Monday in Calgary.

A total of three huts with nearby outhouse facilities will be built, two in the south Castle area and one near Bovin Lake, in the province's southwest corner.

This is where the province plans to have the three facilities built. (Alberta Parks)

All three huts will be operated and maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada, which runs the largest network of backcountry huts in North America, Phillips said.

The huts will be spaced roughly 10 kilometres apart, with the first hut being designed as a special "reasonably accessible" facility near the Beaver Mines Lake Road, Phillips said.

Phillips said Alberta Parks is working to make sure trails to the hut are accessible, for example by wheelchair or electric assist bicycle.

A schematic drawing of what the interior of one of these new huts is expected to look like. (Alberta Parks)

"Everyone deserves to get outside. They need to be properly supported to do so," she said. 

Phillips said the government is looking at building similar hut systems in other provincial parks.

Construction and installation at Castle Wildland Provincial Park will begin this spring. The huts are expected to open in the fall.

Last year, the provincial government allocated more than $20 million over four years to develop the park with accessible fishing experiences, campground improvements, improved hiking and mountain-biking trails, signage and picnic areas.

With files from Colin Hall