- November 11, 2021
There are several advantages to spending your stay in the Canadian Rockies at the Overlander Lodge and the Jasper East Cabins, including the close proximity to several hikes that offer far less traffic than the trails surrounding Jasper townsite. Despite the beauty of the Folding Mountain trail, it is often overlooked by visitors, making it perfect for hikers who enjoy a peaceful trail off the beaten path. While this summit is not technical, the steep scramble to reach the top combined with nearly 1,200 meters of elevation gain, make Folding Mountain a challenging day out. The first three kilometres, a steep trudge up a forested path, gains a third of that total elevation. If your legs can get through the initial workout than from that point onwards the rewards of this hike will make every drop of sweat worthwhile.
Folding Mountain offers the perfect combination for hikers looking for epic views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the more subtle beauty of pine forest and alpine meadows. Once you exit the first forested section of the trail you are greeted with a gentler incline to give your calves a break, and open ridgeline views to give your eyes some scenery to revel in. Athabasca river flows by beneath you, and several Rocky Mountain peaks dot the (hopefully) blue skies beyond.
As you continue to climb you will weave in and out of forested trail. Hiking during the summer months means you can appreciate the shade and the forest floor, likely at this time of year to be laced with wildflowers. A couple of hours before the summit, the trail crosses to the east side or climber's left, offering an entirely new landscape. A rocky trail creates a ridgeline staircase and you can enjoy both the workout and the mountain views, a pleasant distraction in the distance. Soon you will make your way out of the pine trees where there are several grassy knolls amidst the alpine meadows perfect for quenching your thirst and enjoying a snack. From here, the summit is in full view. If possible, save your packed lunch for the perfect picnic spot awaiting you on top.
The last hundred meters can look steep from the approach. It is a fun but challenging hands-on scramble to get to the true summit. If you are not comfortable with the last portion of the ascent, the view is still spectacular. There is a particularly nice patch of meadow at the base of the ascent where you can rest your feet and soak in the mountains visible toward Jasper National Park. However, if you can make the last scramble safely and securely, it is worth the view from the summit. After the fun of navigating a bit of scree, you will find yourself atop Folding Mountain staring at a 360-degree view including Jasper’s biggest peaks such as Edith Cavell, the Fiddle Mountain range along the ridgeline, and endless unnamed mountains in between.
Folding Mountain remains true to its name as you will find a long ridge unfolds before you, begging the tireless explorer to keep wandering among the alpine meadows and ridgeline. In fact, with a bit of further research and preparation, it is possible from this point to hike the summit of Fiddle Peak or continue a long loop hike through to Mystery Lake and down to the Miette Hot Springs. If you don't have the time, or the energy, it is also simply beautiful to take a seat at 2,100 meters and bask in the views and the journey to reach them. A perfect place for that picnic, as promised.
With your belly full and your heart satisfied, its time to head back down the trail. The descent may seem a bit daunting, but once you have made it past the steep rocky scree you recently ascended, the rest is quite straightforward. Retracing your route, you will make your way back down the ridgeline, into the treeline, and back to the creek bed where it all began. It may be tempting to head straight back to your cabin to rest, but it is only fitting to salute your success with an aptly named drink from the nearby Folding Mountain Brewery. There is nothing like a cold beer after a long day of hiking, looking out at the peak you successfully summited. Afterward, you can look forward to folding down your sheets for a well-deserved sleep, drifting off to the memories you made climbing to the top of Folding Mountain.
- November 12, 2021
Utopia Peak Height: 2,602 meters (8,537 feet) Elevation Gain: 1,400 meters (4593 feet) Distance: 10.9 km (6.8 mi) Average Time: 7 – 10 hours Trailhead: Located at the Miette Hot Springs; trail leading to the original hot springs interpretive site Additional Notes: Due to river crossing it is advise