Jumpingpound Mountain provides panoramic mountain vistas in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
There are several ways of achieving the summit of modest Jumpingpound Mountain including a ridge traverse from Cox Hill or from Moose Mountain. On this day Jen and I will choose the most direct trail from roadside parking along Powderface Road south from Sibbald Creek Road (Hwy 68) off the TransCanada Highway. There is great wisdom in planning this hike using a reliable hiking guide and map. Trail options in this area can be poorly signed.
The Jumpingpound Summit Trail is a 3.4 KM (2⅛ mile) fairly event ascent gaining 326 m (1,370 ft) of elevation to the 2,240 m (7,350 ft) isolated summit providing a spectacular panoramic view of copious surrounding peaks. This is the shortest, most southerly and most direct route from Powderface Road to Jumpingpound Summit. The unusual straight, flat section in the road is widened to provide parking for several vehicles at the inconspicuous trailhead.
On this day, the trail approach provides a couple of logs providing passage over standing water at roadside, a sign alerting no horses are allowed and a second, larger but hidden, metal map sign facing the wrong way. Blue paint flashing on nearby evergreen trees is virtually invisible from the road. On the generous side, more than 2 years was required to repair Powderface Road after it was seriously destroyed in June 2013. The fact the trailhead is even accessible is a major achievement. Those who drive this narrow, winding and undulating gravel road for the first time, often attached to the side of steep cliffs, will marvel at the achievement to date. Gaping around and driving at the same time is not wise.
The trail is a fairly even incline through cool, dense and fragrant forest over several bridges in various states of repair or replacement. The wiggling path, with occasional short switchbacks is good quality with increasingly rocky surface as elevation increases. About halfway up a mystery trail branches right. This mystery trail will be investigated on the descent.
A clearly signed trail junction at the Jumpingpound Ridge option will instruct bearing left and lead quickly to the cusp of the treeline where a grand vista across a field of wildflowers will hint at the major reward about to unfold.
The next trail junction from the Jumpingpound Ridge Trail veers right and curls up past the tree line towards the now visible and nearby summit of Jumpingpound Mountain. As summits go, it appears to be an anemic bump on top of an unimpressive hill but, the truth is that benign characteristic is the advantage. The vista is overwhelming and surrounding mountains and ranges are properly distanced to provide a contiguous and overwhelming circular extravaganza of mountain summits. Many of the summits have been achieved on past missions over several decades and bring back a host of incredible personal recollections.
Trails heading off in every direction provide opportunities to wander along the top for discovery of hidden alcoves and variable perspectives of the surrounding grandeur. Sustained gusts of breeze created by passing cloud are interrupted by sessions of sunny stillness. The grand and contiguous view is overwhelming. Larges patches of brilliant green meadow in the distance give the impression of freshly mowed lawn. The Eastern horizon is hazy. The Calgary skyline is hidden behind Moose Mountain which consumes a sizable portion of the eastern horizon. Lunch is magic in this very fine dining location.
Halfway along the descent via the same route used for ascent, the mystery trail turns out to be a very short diversion to a visually hidden viewpoint from an old, hewn log bench across a valley to vistas of majestic mountains beyond. There is an opportunity for a quick bit of artistic photography.
The remainder of the descent is through aromatic and cool evergreen forest filtering the sun prior to the heat at the exposed roadside parking area. The trip home includes the marvels of new terrain along the Powderface Road, created by the ravaging flood in June of 2013, and a stop along Sibbald Creek Road (Hwy 68) for a view from Sibbald Viewpoint on the return drive to Calgary.
Another grand day in the mountains.