Jura Creek Hike Near Canmore, Alberta

The Jura Creek hike near Canmore
The Jura Creek hike near Canmore is fun and family-friendly

The Jura Creek hike near Canmore is a kid-friendly outing with an option to add a level of difficulty by doing a loop hike that includes a scramble of Doorjamb and Loder Peak. Another alternative once out of the canyon and past the false fault, is to walk up Jura Creek for many kilometres.

Near the end of Jura Creek, you can climb Morrowmount (in the summer or fall), a peak named for Patrick Morrow, the second Canadian to summit Mount Everest. That’s approximately a 20 – 22 km return hike with a route description here.

I have only done the Jura Creek hike in winter. It might be a tad challenging in the slot canyon in spring with high runoff in the creek, but the rest of the year should be fair game.

In winter, families in particular would enjoy the  Jura Creek trail, as there’s a short section that’s like a mini-ice walk. It’s nothing like nearby Grotto Canyon, but there is a high fun factor for the younger crowd.  

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The mini ice walk via the Jura Creek trail
The mini ice walk via the Jura Creek trail

Jura Creek trail hike summary

Distance: 6.9 km round-trip. Most people just do the short 1 km hike up the slot canyon and miss the false fault.

Elevation gain: 301 metres or 988 feet – with a few short, steep sections

Time needed: Allow 90-minutes to three hours to hike, more if you do any of the add-on hikes or you’re with kids.

Level of difficulty: Easy in winter. Enjoy a 150 – 200 metre slot canyon that’s a lot of fun. Kids will love it.

Dogs: Allowed on a leash.

Be prepared: Be sure to take hand and toe warmers, especially if you’re planning a long day out in winter. Dress in layers. Carry the 10 essentials. Take a thermos of something hot to drink and some high energy food. And tell someone where you’re going.

Summer hike: The Jura Creek trail can be hiked in summer (I haven’t done it) but some scrambling is involved and you do need to be aware of water levels in the canyon.

I think the Slot Canyon on the Jura Creek trail is the highlight for everyone
I think the Slot Canyon is the highlight for everyone

Jura Creek hike route description

The Jura Creek hike is far less busy than both Grotto and Cougar Canyons. I prefer Grotto Canyon for the ice walk as it’s much longer, but loved Jura Creek for the variety of experiences. Both are quick to access from Canmore and Calgary.

Look for the trailhead sign at the west side of the Jura Creek parking lot. There’s a warren of trails in the area but pick anyone that heads west. You’re aiming for Jura Creek.

Drop down to the creek bed and head north (or right) for the canyon sandwiched between Loder Peak to the east and Exshaw Mountain to the west. About 10 minutes and 800 metres later, arrive at the slot canyon entrance. It’s narrow enough in places that adults can touch both walls standing in one place.

Early morning walk up Jura Creek towards the Slot Canyon
Early morning walk up Jura Creek north towards the slot canyon
We're just a short distance from the entrance to the canyon here
We’re just a short distance from the entrance to the canyon here

The slot canyon on the Jura Creek trail

Jura Creek’s slot canyon is short, perhaps 150 – 200 m long, and way easier than the mile long slot canyon hike I did in Utah one year. Still, it’s very cool and a definite highlight of the Jura Creek hike. You can be through it in a few minutes, but this is where you’ll want to stop and take some photos.

After the slot canyon there’s another fun section of frozen ice if there has been a cold spell. If you’re coming for the ice walk, wait until mid-January unless it’s been really cold for some time. Despite the short length of the ice walk, I’d still highly recommend a pair of icers and even hiking poles, if balance is an issue for you.

The ice walk on the Jura Creek hike will be the highlight for kids – and some adults too. Many families turn around just after the ice walk. If you do that, it will be about 3 km round-trip. But I recommend continuing up to the top of the false fault as it’s another interesting feature on the Jura Creek hike.

The next section is a winter walk on a trail that climbs very gently up – through a forest. There are a few peek-a-boo views, but nothing to write home about. The final section is scenically and geologically interesting as you climb up the false fault through the black Exshaw formation to an intersection. It’s a good place to have lunch at the top here before you retrace your steps. 

The short but beautiful Slot Canyon on the Jura Creek hike
The short but beautiful slot canyon on the Jura Creek hike
The slot canyon section is short so take your time
Scenery after the slot canyon section 
Icers definitely come in handy for this section
Icers definitely come in handy for this section of the Jura Creek hike
Three sets of animal prints seen on the way up Jura Canyon
Three sets of animal prints seen on the way up Jura Creek – wondering if some are bobcat or lynx
Without snow you would be able to see the contrast of the black Exshaw formation on the left where it meets the grey Palliser formation limestone on the right; this is the false-fault
Fun section at the top of the canyon
Fun section at the top of the false fault

How steep is the Jura Creek trail?

You climb 301 metres to reach the top of the false fault. But most of the hike gently gains elevation. The final section up the false fault is the steepest, but it’s also fun. 

Options to extend your hike up Jura Creek

You can continue past the end of the canyon following Jura Creek through the valley for many kilometres. When we did this, the trail was quite wind-blown, so we ended up taking our icers off and hiking in our winter boots.

On other occasions, you might need snowshoes. Elevation gain is minimal. It’s quite lovely walking in winter – especially as hardly anyone goes past the false fault. Count on a return hike of around 7 – 8 km if you continue up the creek.

At the top of the false fault, we met a group who were off to do a loop hike that included Loder Peak in January. Apparently, it’s quite doable in winter, providing you don’t mind a bit of scrambling. They figured it would be about a five-hour hike to loop back to the parking lot. It’s on my list now for next summer.

This tree in Jura Creek has stood the test of time
This tree in Jura Creek has stood the test of time
The Jura Creek hike after the canyon
Heading up Jura Creek – and having the place completely to ourselves
We find lots of rocks with fossils as we head up Jura Creek
We find lots of rocks with fossilized coral as we explore the creek area
Rocky landscape once you start exploring at the top of the canyon
Rocky landscape after you get out of the canyon

Where can you park?

You’ll find parking for the Jura Creek hike east of Exshaw, but west of the Graymont Exshaw Plant on Highway 1A. The parking lot is on the north side of the highway. See the map below.

If you’re driving from Calgary, get off the Trans-Canada at the Seebee exit (Highway 1X) and follow it to reach Highway 1A. Turn left at the intersection and follow Highway 1A for about 5.5 km. If you’re coming from Canmore, get on Highway1. Pass the turnoff to the Grotto Canyon parking and continue for another 5.5 km to reach Jura Creek. There is signage on the highway.

Alberta Parks improved the parking here a few years ago adding a washroom and trailhead facility. There seems to be some spillover parking on the highway when it gets busy on sunny weekends. Be sure to follow posted signs or you’ll end up with a ticket.

Jura Creek location map


Where to eat post Jura Creek hike

If you’re hungry after the Jura Creek hike and don’t mind heading back to Canmore, I highly recommend stopping at Rocky Mountain Bagel Company, Communitea or Rocky Mountain Flatbread.

Keen to to more winter hiking and snowshoeing in Alberta?

Check out some of these trails to get the happy hormones pumping.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Jura Creek hike through a slot canyon near Canmore, Alberta

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