Distance: 2 kilometers round trip, allow 15-20 minutes to the Warden Cabin.
Access: Drive 23 kilometers west of the town of Field on the Trans Canada highway to Hoodoos Campground. Follow the paved road through forest to a large sign for Deer Lodge. Park at the Hoodoo Trail lot or in front of the gate at the Deer Lodge sign.
Tips: Bring binoculars or a camera with zoom capability as there is plenty of opportunity to view wildlife. Wear long pants and shirt as there is an abundant amount of stinging nettle on the overgrown trail. Avoid it if you can!
Deer Lodge Warden Cabin used to be a popular hiking destination. It traverses a very diverse ecosystem with a variety of flora and fauna. The trail signs remain but the trail itself is difficult to scout out since the area is no longer maintained by Parks Canada. I don’t know why this trail was let go since the cabin still stands and it’s a beautiful area. For those who have a little sense of venturing into the unknown and abandoned this is the one for you.
The trail begins on a well packed wagon road that is actually the beginning of the longer Ice River trail. Roughly 200 meters on the road you’ll see an old trail sign for Ice River and a smaller hiking sign for Deer Lodge. Take a quick read on the area and look for a hidden path that veers left at the sign. You can see the roof of the cabin in the distance so you have a general idea of which direction to head.
There is lots of bush around the path. I found myself sidestepping stinging nettle, traversing long grass and flowers, and old logs and trees. The landscape is wide open at this point; the aftermath of fire and avalanche. The views of Chancellor Peak and Mount Vaux are unparalleled from here as well.
As you make your way toward the cabin keep a lookout for wildlife. There is a marsh nearby that is home to beavers and other fauna. I spotted a massive osprey and a golden hawk while hiking, it was absolutely beautiful and appeared to sparkle in the sunlight. Because of the overgrowth I made lots of noise in order to scare off any larger animals that could have been lurking about. I recommend doing this on any trail but particularly when you’re in an area such as this where there is little foot traffic and no sight lines.
When you make it to the cabin it’s a delightful sight. It’s locked up but you can peer inside the dirty windows for a look inside. There are also pots and pans outside which have rusted after years of exposure to rain and sun. There is an old information sign at the cabin as well, but the bottom half has disappeared. It was fun to explore the area! I got some great photos on a bluebird day and had the whole place to myself.
For more historical information on this hike and the cabin see http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=3550