Location: Just off Highway #3 Crowsnest Pass – Alberta, Canada
Destination: Turtle Mountain Summit
Distance: 6.5 Miles / 10.4 Kilometers round-trip
Elevation: 7,250 Feet / 2,209 Meters
Elevation Gain: 2,900 Feet / 884 Meters
Difficulty: Moderate Scramble | Mostly Class 2 – The Trail gets into some Class 3 near the top involving brief points of exposure. Climbing gear is not required. Route finding can be difficult at points.
This is the scene from the highway, where you can see half of Turtle Mountain spread across the valley floor. The slide took place on the morning of April 29, 1903 when 90 million tons of rock slid off the side of Turtle Mountain covering the town of Frank below, making this Canada’s deadliest rock slide.
We have driven the highway through the middle of this rock slide for the last 4 years, without having time to stop and hike. Now that we are more stationary, we decided it was high time to hike Turtle Mountain. From the parking lot, you can see the trail leading to the first summit, (the photo below). In the photo above, you can see the first summit and the true summit is on the left.
Along the ridge trail to the top, there are spectacular views and assorted cairns to lead you along.
From the top, the rock slide looks like a pile of sand. On ground level, the rocks are sometimes as big as a small house, (photo below).
The trail to the first summit is self-explanatory, but if you’re headed to the true summit you’ll need some route finding skills. Trails go in all directions and some of them aren’t very safe. So… don’t head anywhere that makes you uncomfortable. Our rule is, when in doubt take the safer route even if it means losing elevation!
At the top there is a register, where you can sign in.
There are definitely some steep parts between the first and second summits that require hands and feet. If you’re not comfortable with scrambling, you can still hike to the first summit without any complications.
Along the way between the summits, you can see giants cracks leading down into the earth with giant rocks perched on the edge of the ridge. They have all kinds of measuring equipment in place to measure any movement. There has never been any movement detected since the slide, but they continue to monitor just in case.
At the true summit there is a helicopter pad so they can more easily come and go from the monitoring equipment.
We loved this hike! It’s a steep trail, but the views are amazing all the way up the ridge, and it doesn’t take very long to get to the first summit. The whole trip took us 5 hours, even including time to take 700 photos (yeah…I got a little carried away with the camera again).