Powderface Road and the trails it accesses

After a hiatus of three years, Powderface Trail the Road finally opened on May 16.  We and everyone else out inspecting the road can report that it’s in pretty good condition especially the northern half. Occasional soft spots elsewhere will need a bit more ditching and gravelling. Particularly noteworthy is the work done in the meadow just south of Prairie Creek crossing where the ground has been completely reshaped and two big culverts installed under the road. Extraneous water flowing out of the bogs — and there was a lot of it — has been rerouted into an overflow dike. As for the four new bridges over Prairie, Canyon and Jumpingpound creeks, they will surely stand up to all future floods! Only one old wooden bridge now remains.

Powderface Road-prairie

Twin culverts just south of Prairie Creek

Powderface Road-canyon

Canyon Creek bridge.

Powderface Road-mud

There are still several soft spots along the road.

Powderface jumpingpound

Bridge over Jumpingpound Creek.

TRAIL ACCESSES: From what we could see, the  Jumpingpound Mountain and Ridge trails and Prairie Creek trail are all a go with footbridges intact.

TOM SNOW and COX HILL TRAILS: From Dawson day-use area there’s a new start (wrongly signed Jumpingpound Ridge) which is 100 m longer. Horse traffic uses the original trail, everyone else crosses the Jumpingpound via a brand new fiberglass bridge located farther downstream in a most impressive location. Both routes join just before the final climb to the T-junction.

Trailhead sign

Trail sign at Dawson trailhead. It should read Cox Hill, not Jumpingpound (one word) Ridge.

Dawson bridge

The Tom Snow trail has a new bridge high above Jumpingpound Creek.

BELMORE BROWNE,  TIARA PEAK ACCESS:  The trail down the bank has grassed over below the first few feet which is what we expected. The good news is that when the logging road was rehabilitated during the road closure, most of the slash was piled up on the left side of the road and a trail with reasonable tread still exists near the right edge. A couple of trees need a chainsaw, but hand clearing should take care of the rest. Beyond the creek crossing, the pleasant grassy road has been churned up and is lumpy-bumpy. In time it should smooth out and grow grass, but in the meantime, follow the tread on the left side. Two  boulders with cairns on top indicate the turnoff from the logging road into the pine plantation. At the tree edge are two more cairns.  The first part of the trail has lost its tread, but deadfall piled up at the edge of the trail should help guide you to the left, after which the trail gradually improves to the forest edge at the cutline (flagging here). This section needs some trimming. Overall, much better than anticipated.

Belmore trail1

A tread is developing along the right side of the reclaimed logging road.

Belmore moveslash

If everyone moves a few pieces of slash or rocks a good, cleared trail will soon develop.

Belmore trail2

A better section of the upper logging road through the plantation.

Belmore cairn

The two cairns at the start of the trail through the young pines.

22 comments… add one
  • dave Jun 3, 2018, 7:57 pm

    I came down powderface trail today in a small car and had no issues at all other than getting stuck in the middle of a cattle drive 🙂

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 3, 2018, 11:29 am

    The fire was out several days ago, so no problem.

  • Pattie Jun 2, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Thanks Gillian, do you know if smoke from the McLean Creek Fire is affecting Jumpingpound Ridge?

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 2, 2018, 5:45 pm

    The road is fine. Bit slippery after rain in parts. Regular vehicle is OK.

  • Pattie Jun 2, 2018, 7:45 am

    Does anyone know the current condition of the Powderface Trail? Do you need a high clearance vehicle?

  • Eileen Sep 6, 2017, 5:00 pm

    Accidentally drove this road from Bragg Creek to the transcanada today and it was beautiful. The road is slightly more than a single vehicle at times, but going slow is the way to go. You can almost touch the mountains!

  • Gillean Daffern Aug 3, 2016, 5:18 pm

    We too drove the road recently and noticed that all the soft spots have a good covering of gravel. Yea!

  • RyderDA Aug 3, 2016, 4:46 pm

    I’m late with this report, but had no trouble getting to the Jumpingpound Summit trailhead from the north on July 21st. The road is fine.

    The Summit trail hasn’t changed. I’m not a fan of the drainage ditches in the first 300 m of trail, but there you go. Note that the trail is signed as being approved for mountain bikes but not for horses.

    Not that I camp that much, but I keep forgetting that the Dawson trailhead is also a campground — one which had no one in it on the 21st, while other campgrounds in the area were full to overflowing. The campground’s a bit overgrown, it’s so ill-used. Bring a weed whacker.

    And the new Dawson bridge is beautiful. And unfortunately has graffiti on it already.

  • GMJ Jul 2, 2016, 8:05 pm

    We drove from the south end to Sacramento Pass in a low clearance vehicle and it handled it no problem. It seems to be in considerably better condition than before the flood.

  • Ananda Ramesh Jun 30, 2016, 11:48 am

    Sorry for the delayed response, went with family in a low slung sedan. It was awesome drive the drops are really good. A welcome change from the plain tar. Close all windows and keep the fan or A/C in circulation mode. Else you will return with powderface 🙂

  • Dan Overes Jun 19, 2016, 6:37 pm

    Drove it today from end to end and there were no issues. Road was dry and lots of “regular” cars were out there and doing fine.

  • Ananda Ramesh Jun 10, 2016, 4:35 pm

    We are planning this on Sunday afternoon lets see how it turns out.
    Will be taking my 2010 Mazda 6. Will update here after our drive

  • Tony Daffern Jun 9, 2016, 5:41 pm

    We drove Powderface trail today on our way to hike Prairie Creek. The road is in good shape all the way. The barricades at the Elbow end have been removed and the grader operator assured us that the road would remain open from now on. There is still more work to be done on the road, so expect to see the grader and possibly other equipment working in there for a few more weeks. Heavy rain may cause more soft-spot problems.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 8, 2016, 8:38 pm

    June 8, I wanted to drive up the Powderface Road, and yet again the barricades were in place, blocking the road. Furthermore, they were reinforced with forest deadfall that had been woven through the barricades to make it difficult for anyone to move them. Who is this idiot that keeps doing this? The Alberta Transportation and Alberta Parks websites say the road is open. If fact, the road IS open at the north end.
    Duane Fizor, from Alberta Parks spoke with the Volker Stevin supervisor responsible for the Powderface Road, and he confirmed that “there is now way that the barricade should currently be in place”. District Conservation Officer Murray Ingstrup says that “We have been equally confused lately” and that he has requested clarification from Alberta Transportation.
    So, it seems clear that the road should be open, but somebody is taking it upon themselves to keep the public out. “Barricade”

  • Dave Jun 7, 2016, 4:09 pm

    June 3rd I tried to go from the South, but they have barricades again! Barricade says “Bridge Out” but 511 says poor road conditions… http://511.alberta.ca/map.html#l=36&x=-12783248&y=6585320&z=5&lb=1&rb=1

  • Brendan May 29, 2016, 9:46 pm

    Went out along the Powderface Trail today from the north. I was in my low-clearance Toyota Corolla.

    Things were in fine shape for my Corolla the whole way. There was one sign saying something along the lines of “Road Impassible – don’t go any further or you risk getting stranded”. It was at the top of a hill and the road down the hill was bone dry, so I told myself that if things got bad I’d just turn around. There were one or two muddy spots but not even a big deal at all with my Corolla. Most were avoidable.

    At the very south end there were probably 10-15 different groups walking along the road. I had the feeling they thought the road was closed, because they gave me a weird look when I drove by. I got down to Little Elbow and the blockade was still in place – except this time there was a passage through the south side of the blockade. There were TONS of cars at the south end of Powderface, I imagine lots of these cars were hikers walking along the Powderface Road.

    So in my opinion, if things are dry there are no problems whatsoever with the road. If things are wet, you will probably want a 4×4 or just wait until it’s dry again.

  • Steve Riggs May 29, 2016, 9:03 pm

    The most recent trail report said -“Powderface Trail Road open but poor driving condition”. That was good enough for us, so off we went mid-morning (May 29) for a quick jaunt up Powderface Ridge from 3 Trail Pass, via the shortcut route. It was a surprise to find the barricades up at the Hwy 66 end, however, a well traveled easy track around them enticed us onward to find that the big iron gate 100m up the road was open. Game on! The road to our starting point was in fine shape (as it has been ever since the 2013 floods). After our hike on Powderface Ridge and the ridges to the north of the pass, a number of dusty vehicles passed by headed south as we snacked in the warm sun at roadside, indicating to me that it is likely OK all the way through to Dawson. We would have exited to the north to check it out but had no desire to get caught in the paving delays that are plaguing Hwy. 1 once again this summer ( eastbound backed up for several K’s yesterday around 4 pm west of Jumpingpound Creek). It seems to me that the barricades might be a case of “CYA”, maybe by Volker Stevin or whoever is responsible for maintaining the road?

  • David C May 29, 2016, 8:49 pm

    Exploration today reveals that it is open all the way through (a “Road Closed” gate outlines that it is “impassable” – which is not the case – see below). A few tricky spots and some deeper puddles/potholes filled with water – but nothing a good 4WD/AWD can’t handle. Be careful and stay to the right, beep before sharp corners, etc.

    511 Alberta confirmed it is “not recommended” for travel, but not that it is explicitly closed. I assume that will be lifted when it’s dry for a while.

    I was happy to do the Jumpingpound Summit today – although finding it without good signage was a challenge!

  • David C May 25, 2016, 10:09 pm

    Concurring the reports here in the comments, looks like it’s closed again at least temporarily, as of the 24th (although the report says “not recommended”).

    Here’s the Alberta road report where you can see the status: http://511.alberta.ca/map.html#l=36&x=-12783262&y=6585332&z=5&lb=1&rb=1

    Hope they open it again shortly.

  • Alf Skrastins May 25, 2016, 9:54 pm

    The barriers were still in place, blocking access to Powderface Road as of late afternoon, May 25.
    No explanation at the blockade. Nothing on the Elbow Trail Report. There was only this note on the Sibblad Trail Report: “Powderface Trail Road is open but in very poor driving condition. The recent wet weather has made sections of the road very muddy and difficult to drive.”

  • Brendan May 25, 2016, 10:06 am

    I was out near the Elbow Campground last night, and I was surprised to see a blockade across the Powderface Trail. I called K Country this morning and they weren’t aware of the blockade, but said it might be in place because of the “poor condition of the road”. He said trucks were getting stuck in the mud on the long weekend. With some wet weather forecasted this will probably get worse before it gets better.

  • Alf Skrastins May 21, 2016, 9:38 pm

    It’s about time! I look forward to getting back onto the trails from the Powderface Road.

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