Prospector is a mountain biking trail at Exshaw in the Bow Valley west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The trail-head begins at parking near the concrete plant and Exshaw Creek on Mount Allen Drive at the west side of the Hamlet of Exshaw along Hwy 1A west of the Hwy 1A/1X intersection north of the TransCanada Highway.
West side trails on Exshaw Creek are closed, possibly permanently, but the yellow steel bridge has been reinstated over Exshaw Creek as partial recovery from substantial damage inflicted by June 2013 flooding. Damage at Exshaw was horrific but a lot of restoration has been completed.
Exshaw Mountain backs the yellow bridge and provides the background for the north side of the hamlet. At the bridge, views in either direction along Exshaw Creek provides obvious evidence of damage done.
The hike begins by a traverse from parking in an easterly direction across Windridge Road to the northern most road adjacent to the base of Exshaw Mountain. There is a lateral dirt trail just north of the street. Prospector trail climbs steeply north between Windridge Road and Fortress Mountain Way. It is less confusing than it sounds. Just root around until the way becomes apparentor use a trail guide and map.
Prospector initially turns and climbs aggressively past lumber debris from previous cycling features. The trail is well defined and occasional routes, over inclined rock surfaces, are secure on the gritty surface. It will be less secure when rock is wet.
Soon there are excellent mountain views across Exshaw to the south side of the Bow Valley. Trail levels, with minor undulation, through lush and fragrant forest along the side of the valley above Exshaw Creek.
Anyone who feels they have insufficient spine for this hike may be able to pick up some extra spine along the way.
Prospector is an outstanding forest walk with wildflowers and interesting natural features. There are also mountain biking ramps and features along the course. The trail bisects and links with the Exshaw Creek Trail. There is potential for architecting an excellent hike of variable length and duration.
This hike is truncated to allow checking out other trails in the area. The hike back is via the same route. Some of the rock features are both fascinating and typical of the area.
Back at Exshaw Creek there is an opportunity to hike north alongside the east shore. Flood damage is incredible. All that is left of the Knowlerville Bridge is a single concrete support near the middle of the creek. The large Pump House appears to have escaped visible impact. There is a matrix of trail through forest which allows closer inspection of Exshaw Creek. The main trail is a road beneath power lines.
The hike on good path back to the parking area provides excellent views to mountains on the south side of the Bow Valley Corridor.
The impact of the flood is sobering, and reconstruction efforts are still underway, but the recovery to date is impressive. The next objective for this hiking day is examination of the damage at Jura Creek to the east side of the Hamlet of Exshaw in the Bow Valley Corridor.