We hiked Turtle Mountain last fall, and it was completely breathtaking. But I’m not doing it again any time soon.
Hike: Turtle Mountain
Elevation: 780 m
Length: 6.2 km round trip
Turtle Mountain is located in the Crowsnest Pass right on the Alberta/BC border. This mountain isn’t hard to miss – the highway takes you right through the thousands of tonnes of rock that fell from the mountain in Canada’s deadliest landslide – Frank Slide. I love taking the kids here in the summer to scramble around on the huge rocks!
To get to the base, drive into the town of Blairmore, and take the back alley off 16th Avenue towards the mountain. This will take you to the parking area. There are two places to park, an upper and a lower lot. I would recommend the upper lot since the way down to the bottom is pretty steep. I didn’t trust our car to make it safely! There’s only a hundred meters difference between the two so we decided to play it safe and park up top.
Turtle Mountain is definitely not an easy hike. There may or may not have been a few instances of me saying pathetically, “Go on without me!” as I lay in a heap on the trail. But I’m also not in awesome condition, fitness-wise, so for people who are a little more athletic it would probably be much more enjoyable. My husband, for instance, is excited to do it again already. He’s a weirdo. But I love him.
I wouldn’t say gloves are a must, but I would definitely recommend them. There were quite a few instances where I was scrambling up rocks and was very thankful my hands were protected. I used gardening gloves and those worked just fine for me!
There was a huge beacons-of-Minas Tirith-style log pile on the path as well that I loved. It was pretty epic.
The trail is on a pretty decent incline for almost the entire way up. It is also quite difficult to follow at times. There are ribbons marking the trail but I’m pretty sure they were marking multiple trails up the mountain. Getting up wasn’t too bad since you basically just have to go straight up, but we did get lost on the way back down.
Watch out for the wind: it’s ridiculous. There were several parts on the trail I was more than a little worried I would get blown off. For reals. Also make sure you dress appropriately! I wore a t-shirt, sweater, and wind-breaking jacket. It was perfect to be able to remove layers when I needed to.
In Alberta we get a bit shafted when it comes to fall colours, but in the Crow’s Nest Pass they’re a little bit luckier. The bright yellow trees peeking through the green and grey were beautiful.
The view from the top of Turtle Mountain is incredible. Terrifying, but incredible. Be careful near the edge!
On the one side of the mountain you see the infamous land slide that wiped out the town of Frank a century ago. On the other is a stunning vista with mountain peaks and gorgeous forests spread out below you. We stopped here to have lunch, it was windy but worth it!
After reaching the first peak, most people continue on to the next one across the ridge of the mountain. This involves a lot of scrambling and picking your way through crevasses, and unfortunately/fortunately we didn’t have time to trek across to the next peak. This would be great for people who love to boulder!
While we were on the way down we must have missed a turn, since we eventually got to a spot where we could see the car, but the only way to get to it would have been to jump down a 20 foot cliff. Which of course we didn’t do. So the guys went searching for the proper trail while my friend and I held down the fort. It actually took quite a while for them to find a non-terrifying way off the mountain. At the end of the hike this was hard for us to wait for! So the moral of the story is to make sure you stay on the path!
This was a beautiful hike, and I’m very glad that I did it, but I’m not itching to do it again. I didn’t feel that the exertion-to-reward ratio was quite high enough for me. But it might be for you!
Have you done this hike? What did you think? Let me know down below!