Of the three possible routes to the summit of Jumpingpound Mountain, we choose the longer and more scenic north approach. The trail snakes its way up to the top, a broad and flat open ridge which can be followed for a number of kilometres. It’s a wonderful ridge walk!
This route (IMO) is much preferable to the other trail options which while shorter are in trees most of the time. I’d hate to sacrifice all those potential views just to get up there quicker. The trip is part of the fun, no?
This trail starts off the gravel Powderface road and we park at the obvious pullout about 10km south of the Sibbald turnoff. The trailhead is marked Cox Hill and it’s also possible to summit that mountain using parts of this same route – that trail splits part way up. The only time we did Cox Hill, we did it by the north route however.
Immediately we cross a stream and right away start up the switchbacks. The trail here is broad and well drained and only moderately steep. Nice! After zigging and zagging for a while, we gain the ridge and follow it up to the top. On the upper trail, while still in the trees, things get a bit rockier and loose compared to down low. There are lots of roots to trip over too.
Around here we reached the snow line but it wasn’t terribly deep or slippery and it presented no problems for us. It’s at this point we also saw our first Cougar tracks – perhaps a day or two old – and we followed them for a kilometre or more. Animals like to use hiking trails too since they make travel easy. Here kitty, kitty!
Breaking out of the forest we come to a junction. To the left is the Cox Hill trail we spoke of earlier, and to the right the way to our destination. Skirting just below the ridge for a while, the mountain gets broader as we go. It undulates here a bit passing through a number of tree islands (some very stunted trees). In no time we see the summit only a few minutes away.
The views along this section of the ridge are stunning and to the west there is an endless sea of limestone peaks. Most have names, which for some reason seem to escape me. I guess I’m caught up in the moment. Calgary can be seen from here way off in the distance.
Once we top out, things get even better and we have a clear view of Moose Mountain to the east and the ridge that connects it with our peak – hmm looks like a potential hiking route. South are a number of low treed hills and to the north there is a clear view of Cox Hill. Of the two mountains/hills mentioned, we’ve hiked them both. Cox Hill is taller than Jumpingpound Mountain by the way.
There are two fire lookouts that can be seen from our position, the first on the aforementioned Moose Mountain, and to the northwest the Barrier Lake lookout, which we’ve also been up to. The latter is a bit harder to spot given it’s much further away. It sits on a small mountain – it didn’t seem small when we hiked it – overlooking the Bow Valley.
To the north the flat faced Mt. Yamnuska can be seen. This is a popular scramble route, but we’ve never done it. I’ve heard it’s too busy to be enjoyable and we tend to prefer solitude.
Typically it can be windy on Jumpingpound Mountain – so I am told. This day however it was quite still with only a few light gusts.
While enjoying our lunch at the top, with wine of course, a number of hikers joined us there. All of them arrived by the more popular centre or south routes, both shorter and with less elevation gain. We were the only hikers to take the more challenging but rewarding north route. As our website titles says, we like things off the beaten path.
Reluctantly we leave and say goodbye to this wonderful place.
On the way down, a defiant grouse refused to move off the trail until we were almost right on top of him. The whole time he was puffed up and cooing. These birds aren’t terribly smart and make an easy meal for predators. There are a lot of them in the area and perhaps that’s what that cougar was after.
Bikes and horses use this trail and on our trip, we even saw some of the former, struggling their way through snow drifts on the upper trail. That’s hardcore!
If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: October 2012.
Location: Kananaskis, Sibbald Area.
Distance: 15km return.
Height gain from start: 600m.
Height gain cumulative: 650m.
Technical bits: None.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.