Jura Creek Canyon is a popular hike in the Bow Valley component of Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
From the new parking area on the south side of Highway 1A across from the Graymont Plant, access to Jura Creek Canyon is achieved by hiking about a kilometer on a matrix of dirt roads and/or trail in a northwest inclination for eventual arrival at the raised, stony bank of Jura Creek.
On the approach into Jura Creek Canyon there are several safer spots to ramp down onto the expansive creek bed. The importance of quality, protective footwear (hiking boots) to avoid potential injury begins to become obvious.
Jura Creek lies between Door-Jamb Mountain / Loder Peak on the East and Exshaw Mountain to the West.
The entrance to Jura Creek Canyon is narrow and the tight canyon quickly becomes cluttered with large boulder debris deposited by the force of previous fast water and occasional flooding events.
On this late Spring day, there is just enough water running to require the use of lofty stepping stones or appropriately-placed logs to navigate around sections of water deeper than the height of the quality hiking boots required to reduce the real threat of injury.
A tiny evergreen tree, growing from an imperceptible tiny crack within a solid and very sharp rock ledge glows in a temporary sunbeam. As the canyon gradually gains elevation, the narrow portion of Jura Creek Canyon begins to gain width.
As canyon walls begin to widen and become less severely angled, the east (right) side of the canyon becomes a tapered slope of thin rock layers extending down to creek-side. Near the end of this short section, turning around and looking back down the canyon, and up to the left towards tall evergreen trees near the top of the slope, reveals the location of the small shallow cave.
Those who choose to scramble across and up to investigate, be advised it is a small cave without features. Followers will appreciate having it remain in its natural state.
Hiking a short distance further up-canyon reveals a rustic, dirt, ascent trail on the west side of Jura Creek Canyon. This trail is the High Water Trail which allows exit from, or entry into, Jura Creek when water flow through the Canyon is simply too high and dangerous to risk navigation in the narrow rocky section. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution.
In my personal experience, this bypass trail has never been necessary or employed, so this day presents an opportunity to experience hiking the bypass route. In the event of an unanticipated flash flooding event, this rustic alternative route may become very important and valuable.
The north end of the High Water Trail from Jura Creek to higher ground.
The forest route is a very pleasant, albeit short, hiking experience with rolling elevation at the base of Exshaw Mountain and isolation above Jura Creek Canyon. The trail exits the forest just past the entrance into Jura Creek Canyon onto the west rocky plateau above Jura Creek.
There are rugged trail ramps down to the creek bed, or the alternative taken this day is the opportunity to explore the west side of the plateau above the creek.
Many unique and interesting features reveal themselves along the hike south above the west side of Jura Creek hiking south towards Highway 1A. There is a large and distinctly beautiful, forested alcove near the base of Exshaw Mountain that is arbitrarily used for primitive, backcountry camping.
Cloud is building rapidly and becoming darker in the distance.
Looking back towards the entrance to Jura Creek Canyon reveals the profile and relative elevations of Door-Jamb Mountain in comparison to Loder Peak. This massive field of stone around the east base of Exshaw Mountain consumes many acres and this rock depository seems too well groomed to eliminate the possibility there may be future development at this site.
The far (south) end of the rocky plain tapers down and narrows to forest borders adjacent to the sides of an old entry road. Along this short section of old road there is evidence it was once used as an illegal dumping site. Small, largely reclaimed piles of trash contain very old and rusty tin cans as well as shards from broken clay pottery.
The dirt road terminates at Highway 1A and turning left leads east along the Highway 1A apron to intersect with the location where Jura Creek flows through the concrete culvert passing beneath the highway to merge with the Bow River. The view north along Jura Creek towards the mountains provides a sense for the size and scale of the massive amount of water that may flow through here.
The two-hole culvert beneath the highway does not seem proportionate to handle the amount of water the riverbed might potentially deliver in flooding conditions.
Return to original parking is achieved on an old overgrown road resplendent with wildflowers and secret recreational spots. The largely reclaimed road, which parallels nearby overhead power lines, offers interesting recreational features among small alcoves of grassland complementing predominantly Spring forest. Each tree type sports its unique green and shiny, new leaves that display their uniquely individual green colors for this short period each year.
This excellent Jura Creek Canyon hike, exploration, discovery and ramble mission was completed on a very quiet, satisfying and relaxing Monday, June 17, 2019.