Jumpingpound Ridge Lookout
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 13.5 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 495 m
How To Get There: At the end of Hwy 66 (going west), turn onto Powderface Road and drive for about 15 km. If you drive past the Mount McDougall Memorial, you've gone too far. The trail starts at the row of rocks and this is where you park.
During September Long last year the weather was absolutely awful. It rained every day which eventually turned into snowfall in the higher elevation areas. So this year I was really keeping my fingers crossed that the weather would be better…
It was not. The forecast called for rain off and on through out the entire weekend. Regardless, Kim and I still decided to get ourselves outside. I wanted a little more of a laid back hike as I had just finished a big backcountry trip so we decided to look around in the Bragg Creek area. That’s how I ended up landing on Jumpingpound Ridge.
We went around the long way to get to the trailhead, travelling along highway 66 and then driving along Powderface road. We parked in front of the boulders, put on our rain gear (at that point it was cloudy, windy and chilly but there was no actual precipitation) and then set out on the muddy road that led to the trailhead sign.
The road was a bit slippery and we struggled not to slip on our butts as it descended downwards for about 700 metres. There was a small herd of cows off in the distance that I’m fairly certain were judging us.
Once we crossed over the small bridge, we ducked into a small thicket of trees, walked across a meadow and then began making our way into the trees again.
At this point, the trail begins to ascend upwards, forming long and gradual switchbacks. As we hiked, we were completely surrounded with fog and it felt almost like a scary Halloween movie. I was fairly certain a serial killer was about to jump out of the haze and murder two blonde girls in the middle of nowhere.
Regardless, the trail was still interesting enough with the changing colours that surrounded us. It was almost as if the seasons were caught somewhere in between- while yellow leaves littered the ground there were still a fair share of wildflowers lining the trail. The smell of rotting foliage and fresh rain combined for an interesting scent as we walked.
There were several points as we got higher up the switchbacks where I’m fairly certain we could have seen the valley below us if it hadn’t been for the thick fog.
We ended up reaching a plateau on the hill that was definitely the foggiest portion of the hike. The trees dispersed and all we could see was the trail and a few boulders.
We followed the trail back into the forest, descended for a short bit and then began gradually ascending again until the trail flattened out. By this point, we decided to take a quick snack break so we sat down on a fallen log. As we sat, the sun began peaking through the clouds, breaking through the fog and finally allowing us to see more than a few hundred feet in front of us. At this point, we ran into a spruce grouse and her chick, which were separated by the trail. Regardless, she wasn't too happy that we were standing in her way so we moved on pretty quickly.
The trail remains flat for quite some time until you finally come to a sign that indicates that if you turn left, you’ll be heading towards the Jumpingpound Summit Trail (which is essentially a shortcut to where we already were).
If you turn off to your right, you begin ascending upwards towards the lookout. This is when the views start to get really good. We were fortunate in that the clouds were just high enough that we were still able to see quite a bit.
There was still some fog here and there but for the most part, once we reached the second sign, we could finally start to see the landscape that surrounded us. We turned right yet again and began the quick ascent up to the lookout.
From the lookout you can see a panoramic view of the mountains ahead and behind you, including Moose Mountain and Cox Hill. We could even see the prairies off in the distance when the clouds moved in just right the spot.
We took this chance to take quite a few pictures and then stopped to eat the rest of our lunch.
By that point the wind had picked up and it was starting to get fairly chilly. Since we had been at a stand still for so long, I could feel my fingers started to get numb so we decided it was time to head back home.
This hike is a bit of a challenge with the switchbacks but I would still recommend it for just about anyone. The views are definitely worth the climb!