Added by James Hueser
Distance: 13 km (8 miles)Elevation gain: 900 m (2950 ft)Duration: 4 hoursClimb two easy peaks in one dayFossils, geology, and limestone canyons in Jura CreekGreat scramble for beginners
If you're looking for views, vistas, and great scrambles in the Rockies, this is a great place to start. For any geology enthusiast, furthermore, this hike cannot be missed, offering great opportunities to search for some seriously ancient fossils.
The trail begins on the west side of the parking lot – you will see a wide trail heading west, and a narrower trail heading north. Follow the narrower trailer, which gains elevation quickly, giving you a good work out. The trail also involves navigating some slabs, without being too technical, making this a great introduction to scrambling for beginners. It does take some route finding to reach the top, but it is still manageable – just keep heading up!
The push to Loder Peak has a lot of shale (identifiable by its orange color), so keep an eye out for fossils. There are lots of stromatoporoids, as well some really clear bedding planes. From the top of Loder, you will have a great view of Yamnuska to the east, as well as Old Goat Mountain, which is the true summit of this mountain range.
You then have two options for going down. The first is to head back the way you came, but this involves descending all those 30 degree slabs, which is not the most fun!
The alternate way down is along the north side of the mountain. Follow cairns down the north side of Loder Peak and work your way down the gully. Also be careful of dislodging loose rocks, if there is anybody below you. Early in the season, there may be enough snow to slide most of the way down. If not, it is a steady gully walk to Jura Creek. There are lots of fossils in this area, especially coral!
Jura Creek is one of the best parts of this hike – in addition to the fossils, it's a lot of fun to pick your way through this braided channel. There are also a few bedrock channels that you can explore if the water level is low enough.
The best and coolest part about Jura Creek, however, is the geology you can find on one of the cliff faces. Keep an eye out for it, right after the first bedrock channel/canyon. This cliff is amazing from a geological standpoint because it contains three different rock formations: Palliser limestone, Exshaw Shale, and Banff limestone. These formations span millions of years, and the Exshaw even spans over the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary!
The rest of the hike follows Jura Creek, winding in and out of the trees. A lot of the trail in the forest was washed out from the 2013 floods, so you will have to keep to the river bed for most of the way. The channel widens significantly, and you will be able to climb up out of the river bed on the east side, taking you back to a trail to the parking lot.
Note that although the parking lot is just off of the road, you do have to drive through a ditch to get there, so be careful of bottoming out.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Water and snacks
- Bear spray
- Bug spray (esp. during tick season)
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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