Stone Mountain Provincial Park

History

Cultural Heritage

Conservation

Stone Mountain Park provides representation of the Eastern Muskwa Ranges ecosection. The Muskwa Ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains contain complex folds, wide U-shaped valleys and rugged peaks of Paleozoic limestone and quartzite. In comparison to the southern Rocky Mountains, the older Muskwa Ranges show evidence of more complex, tectonic deformation during their uplifting and development over 50 million years ago. Throughout Stone Mountain, there are examples of tilted sedimentary strata, folds, faults and synclines. Valley bottoms in the headwaters of MacDonald Creek are characterized by vertical beds which protrude through scree less resistant to erosion.

A more localized sub-range of the Muskwas, the Stone Range represents a heavily eroded and horizontally-bedded landscape typical to northern portion of the park. Mt. St. Paul at 2127m is composed of layered sedimentary rock, mostly seabed dolomite, laid down in Devonian times and raised along with the rest of the area approximately 80-90 million years ago.

The topography of Stone Mountain Park is steep, with elevations ranging from 1200m to 2500m. Elevations within the park exceed 2300m only in the southern potion of the MacDonald Creek headwaters. Mt. St. Magnus at 2550m serves as a southern boundary marker and represent the highest mountain in the park.

Glaciation has been responsible for forming the present-day landscape. A large ice sheet extended over the park and scoured the lower peaks of the Stone Range. The U-shaped MacDonald valley illustrates one of the many ice valleys in the area. As glacial ice melted, the area of Summit Lake received an immense deposition of gravel and boulders; this was followed by an intense period of fluvial erosion. As a result, major outwash plains were formed in the headwaters of the North Tetsa River. Five distinct terrace levels indicate the intensity of fluvial action that scoured this particular portion of the park.

Runoff is a dominant hydrological process in Stone Mountain due to steep slopes, little soil and vegetation and the amount of rainfall. A variety of water bodies and kettle holes scattered throughout the park are recharged by spring meltwater and summer rains. Deep canyons trace the flow of intermittent creeks.

Summit Lake is the largest water body in the park. The deep blue waters are recharged annually by snow melt and precipitation. West of the pass lies Rocky Crest Lake, a small sub-alpine lake. Between these two lakes, a broad wetland marks the divide between the watersheds of the Tetsa-Muskwa and Racing-Toad River systems. Although the Tetsa River drains to the east and the Toad to the west, both river ultimately run into the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River.

A unique outwash plain formation lies in the headwaters of the North Tetsa River, southeast of Mt. St. George. A series of stepped terraces record the catastrophic drainage pattern which occurred during the later stages of the glacial retreat. As Summit Lake was blocked by ice and debris, outwash from the retreating MacDonald valley glacier escaped south of Mt. St. George carrying glacial drift down the valley of the North Tetsa. Water erosion, caused by the melting ice-front in the Tetsa headwaters, quickly carved an intricate pattern of channels thorough the newly deposited till.

Due to its mountainous location, Stone Mountain Park supports only two biogeoclimatic zones. The subalpine spruce/willow/birch zone contains open forests of mainly white spruce and subalpine fir. A stand of lodgepole pine north of Summit Lake Campground, is indicative of a wildfire which probably occurred during the construction of the Alaska Highway. Above 1500m lies the alpine tundra zone. Scrub birch and willow species are found along wet areas, and grasses and alpine flowers occur in areas that have enough soil to support them. On shady sites in upland locations, small basins of alpine muskeg occur. These boggy areas are accumulations of moss layers that have grown in successive layers over glacial till. When walked upon, the ground of these areas feels soft and spongy. Please be careful and avoid these areas, as they are very sensitive to trampling and major disturbance. Alpine meadows host the southern limit of the Lapland rosebay shrub. This small shrub is from the rhododendron genus and bears showy clusters of bright rose-purple flowers. Unlike other rhododendrons, the Lapland rosebay grows on calcium-rich soils.

Wildlife

Few furbearing mammals inhabit Stone Mountain Park. High elevations and harsh winter conditions limit the range of many species. Squirrel, hoary marmot and chipmunk are the more observable species. Other species known to occur include grizzly and black bear, wolf, coyote, lynx, marten, fisher and beaver. Populations of caribou, stone sheep and mountain goat winter in the park. Caribou and stone sheep are visible along the highway. Please reduce speeds and watch for wildlife when travelling the Alaska Highway. Other ungulates that use the park in summer include mule deer and elk. Summit and Rocky Crest Lakes are congregation areas for migratory birds. Raptors, such as golden eagles, can be seen circling the skies. Many other avian species occur, but have not been recorded. Ptarmigan are a common sight above treeline.

Summit Lake offers angling opportunities to visitors. The lake has been stocked in past years with rainbow and lake trout and mountain fish are also present. Summit Lake is a low productivity lake, with fish exhibiting slow growth and late maturation. As a result, fish populations are easily overfished. Please be prudent and refer to the current BC Environment Fishing Regulations Synopsis. Arctic grayling and bull trout can be found in MacDonald Creek.