Just to the east of Jasper National Park and south of Hwy 16 is an unassuming mountain that often gets overlooked, dwarfed as it is by Roche a Perdrix and the Fiddle Range. But tucked in behind the summit of Folding Mountain is a heavenly pocket of Rocky Mountain wilderness that many environmentalists wish to see blessed with provincial or national park status. The hike is a bit of a grunt and there is no reliable water source. I polished off a 4 litre water bladder on my last trip and still felt dehydrated.
From the pull-off, hike west along the south side of the highway for 300m, the trailhead is marked with a large yellow hiker sign. The trail starts innocently enough in a nice mixed forest, but soon begins the first of two big climbs on its way to the summit. Gaining over 400m in the first 2 kilometres the trail breaks out of the trees into subalpine meadows. Back over your shoulder are incredible views over the Athabasca River flowing out of range after range of mountains. These meadows are a fitting destination in themselves, especially in late September when the leaves in the valley below are changing colour.
Gaining elevation at a more enjoyable pace the trail passes through a good kilometre of meadow before plunging back into the forest. There is an old campsite at 5 km, it is forest enclosed and has no reliable water source. Soon after the camp the second big grunt begins, but with open views over the foothills there is little to complain about. Gaining a saddle, the trail the trail switches to the other side of the ridge and views of the Rockies resume.
The last push to the peak, on scree and rock, is not for the squeamish. I find it hard to believe that horses can make it up this section of the trail but I have met numerous cowboys who say it can be done. Having gained almost a kilometre of vertical, the views from the summit, like any other in the Canadian Rockies are spectacular. Sit, enjoy then return the way you came, or...
This is just one of many trails carved out of the wilderness by local coal miners back in the early 1900's. It leads to the Miette Hot Springs, where the miners would go to convalesce after an accident in the mines. Stretching off to the southeast of the summit is an open ridge and the continuation of the trail. After a glorious five kilometres on the ridge the trail dips down in to the forest and connects with the Drinnan Creek Trail downstream of Mystery Lake. It is 16 km one way from Hwy 16 to Mystery Lake.
Another option is the ridge to the southwest which connects with the Fiddle Range, and leads straight to Fiddle Peak. It is an additional 5km one way and another 250 metres of vert to the summit of Fiddle Peak. It's reasons like this that you'll want to bring plenty of water on your hike to Folding Mountain. You'll also want to bring along the government topo 'Miette 83F4 NAD83' too.
Submitted by 'mtncat'. NTS Map 083F04
Drive west of Hinton on Hwy 16 for about 15 minutes, 300 metres after the Folding Mountain Resort and Campground (http://www.albertadirectory.net/foldingmtn/), park in the large pull-off on the south or left side of the highway.
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Posted By: cc269
- Thu Aug 29 00:30:43 UTC 2013
UpsideRemote from other people. Did not see another soul the whole trip. Easy access to trail head. Nice verticle. Vi. ews were great DownsideIf there was rain/dew it wouldn't be a fun trip whith all the small shrubs to go through. CommentMy 8 year old daughter and I did this hike in July 2013. It took a full 10 hours in and out with her because of the incline and distance of the trip. There is a nice spot to have lunch about half way up at a rock slide. Steep at the start and end for sure. Great views. Recommend this hike. Rate it as medium for difficulty.
Posted By: Superfunk
- Wed Jul 10 04:15:09 UTC 2013
UpsideGreat views and excellent once you get out of the trees. DownsideVery steep for the first 2-3 kms, very hard on my knees on the way down the steep trail. I recommend hiking poles. CommentTHERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAILHEAD, READ THIS!
I hiked this trail in July 2013. As per various directions I read on the internet, you are to park at (or near) the Folding Mountain Resort, then walk down the highway (in the direction of Jasper) to find the trailhead. The only problem is that the FOLDING MOUNTAIN RESORT has CHANGED ITS NAME to the JASPER GATES. It took us a while to find the trail because of this name change.
Once we found out about the name change, we parked at the Jasper Gates, which is a few minutes drive outside (east) of the entrance to Jasper Park, on the same side of the highway travelling towards Hinton/Edmonton (east). Or, about 25km from Hinton.
After parking at Jasper Gates, to find the trailhead, you have to walk down the highway (about 5-10 minutes) in the direction of Jasper (west). Stay on the same side of the highway as Jasper Gates; the trailhead is on the same side of the highway as Jasper Gates. Look for a yellow trail marker which is nailed to a tree, it is only about 8" x 12", the sign isn't very big so it may be a bit hard to see it from the highway, but it is there. It doesn't say what the name of the trail is on the sign, it only has a hiker symbol on it.
There is a Folding Mountain sign part way up the trail. I'm not sure why they wouldn't put a Folding Mountain sign at the trailhead?
We hiked up for about 3 hours. Probably about 2-2.5 hours through the trees (very steep) until we got into an open part of the trail where you had great views and the trail was more flat. The open views lasted for maybe 30-45 minutes until the trail started to descend again into the trees. We decided to turn back at this point as we had to go back home.
I hope these directions help someone out there, this is my first post on Trail Peak. I've made a lot of use out of this website so finally I have something to contribute. Happy hiking!
Posted By: Rainat88
- Thu May 24 04:25:51 UTC 2012
UpsideEasy to get to and just outside the park, so coming from the east you don't have to pay to access it! DownsideWe did it May-long, and the snow wasn't gone yet in the middle and upper part, so it made for thigh deep slogging and very wet shoes. The summit was clear though! CommentThis was a great hike, I just wished we waited a few more weeks for the middle part to melt. It was a good kilometre of snow along the trail, but we still managed to do it in 6.5 hours. The lower part wasn't muddy at all though. Give it a few more weeks or bring your gaitors and waterproof hikers.
Posted By: deebell
- Wed Jul 22 19:59:09 UTC 2009
Upsidechallenging workout, stunningly beautiful, lots of wildflowers Downsidestarts straight uphill, even where it plateaus it's an uphill grade, need to pack LOTS of water Commentenjoyed this trail ALOT but found a few things misleading......1. the trail head is NOT 5 telephone poles or 300 m from Folding Mtn. Resort, it's between pole # 8 and 9, we found it hard to find since there was logging roads/trails we looked forever on these at pole #5 distance! as long as you know where to look the trail marker is easy to find. 2. the uphill climb is at least 3 km before the sub alpine meadow emerges, and it is smaller than expected, it made us wonder if this was it! Was a gorgeous view of Folding Mtn, had rocks assembled for a seat. 3. the trail after this almost seemed to disappear a couple times, can tell it's not used as much as the start of trail, we hiked on but couldn't find the cabin/campground...is it 5 km in??
Posted By: deebell
- Wed Jul 22 19:48:09 UTC 2009
Upsidechallenging workout, stunningly beautiful, lots of wildflowers Downsidestarts straight uphill, even where it plateaus it's an uphill grade, need to pack LOTS of water Commentenjoyed this trail ALOT but found a few things misleading......1. the trail head is NOT 5 telephone poles or 300 m from Folding Mtn. Resort, it's between pole # 8 and 9, we found it hard to find since there was logging roads/trails we looked forever on these at pole #5 distance! 2. the uphill climb is at least 3 km before the sub alpine meadow emerges, and it is smaller than expected, it made us wonder if this was it! Was a gorgeous view of Folding Mtn, had rocks assembled for a seat. 3. the trail after this almost seemed to disappear a couple times, can tell it's not used as much as the start of trail, we hiked on but couldn't find the cabin/campground...is it 5 km in??