Moose Mountain Southwest Loop
Three weeks after visiting the north peak of Moose Mountain in Alberta's Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone, I was back on 24 October 2021 to tag a few more subsidiary peaks southwest of the main summit.  Routes to these subsidiary peaks are well-described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, and I made plans to do a loop of the three which she refers to as West Peak, Centre Peak, and South Peak.  After sending out an e-mail invitation to several friends, Shaun Luong, Aga Sokolowska, and Zosia Zgolak confirmed that they would be accompanying me.  Jeff Shaw and his partner, Naomi Morello, were also supposed to join us, but for some strange reason, they were not at the east Canyon Creek trailhead (pullout on east side of Powderface Trail, 20 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 66 or 15 kilometres north of the junction with Highway 66) when the rest of us arrived at my suggested rendezvous time.

Shaun, Aga, Zosia and I waited about fifteen minutes for Jeff and Naomi to show up before finally deciding to set off without them.  Following Daffern's route description, we headed eastward along the Canyon Creek exploration road and soon passed a signed junction for the trail to Jumpingpound Mountain.  At an unsigned junction about 2.7 kilometres further, we veered left onto another road climbing away from Canyon Creek, and we walked another 800 metres before rock-hopping across Moose Mountain Creek.  Just then, we heard voices and were pleasantly surprised to see Jeff, Naomi, and--Mr. Incredible himself--Bob Parr come up the trail behind us.  They had mistakenly gone to the west Canyon Creek trailhead but quickly figured things out when no one else showed up there.  Fortunately, they caught up to us just before we were about to leave the road at a sharp right-hand bend past the creek crossing.

Leaving the road, the seven of us followed a faint trail going up an intermittent side creek which branches to the northeast away from Moose Mountain Creek.  Although the faint trail is not well-defined and disappears quite often, travel up the side creek is not overly difficult.  About 1.4 kilometres from where we left the road, we abandoned the side creek and climbed through light forest to gain the West Peak's southwest ridge.  We then grinded uphill past tree line and easy rubble slopes to reach the top of the West Peak.
Brrrrrr!!! Baby, it's cold outside!

Shaun, Zosia and Aga begin hiking eastward along the Canyon Creek exploration road.

It's a good thing there's a foot bridge here! Shaun checks the map at the junction with the trail to Jumpingpound Mountain (going left) while Sonny tests the thickness of the ice on the surface of the pond.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Still frosty here!

Aga and Zosia take the road to the left which climbs away from Canyon Creek.  In the background is the South Peak of Moose Mountain.

I hear voices...hopefully not in my head! Shaun, Aga and Zosia rock-hop across Moose Mountain Creek.
It's a party now! The group has grown in size with the late addition of (at the back) Jeff, Bob and Naomi.
Steep but pleasant hiking here! The group climbs up through light forest to gain the southwest ridge of Moose Mountain's West Peak.
We finally get some warm sunshine! The group breaks out of the trees on the southwest ridge.  On the right horizon is Mount Bryant.
Need more snow to ski this! A fresh dusting of snow covers the ground near the last trees.
It was a slog for sure, but the weather was so nice here! The group grinds up easy rubble slopes.
Nice and easy! The group follows the ridge to the top of Moose Mountain's West Peak.
Hmmm...the southeast end looks higher from here... The group traverses to the southeast end (right of centre) of the West Peak's long summit ridge.  The northwest end is the actual summit (2323 metres) while the southeast end is marginally lower by about a metre.  The Centre and South Peaks of Moose Mountain are also visible, respectively, to the left and right.
Being the senior person in the group, Bob is allowed to sit for the group photo! Standing behind sitting Bob and the cairn at the southeast end of the West Peak's summit ridge are (L to R) Aga, Shaun, Jeff, Naomi, Zosia and Sonny.
Traversing the top of the West Peak, our group dropped down a steep rubble slope to the east.  Fresh snow made the rocks a bit slippery here, but fortunately, we all made it down to easier terrain without incident.  We then headed southeast to a minor bump (50.92567, -114.83467) which Daffern refers to as "the hub" since it sits at a juncture between all three peaks described in this report.  From the hub, we continued eastward across a short dip to the top of the Centre Peak where we stopped for an extended lunch break.
This was probably the most difficult slope of the day for us. Jeff, Aga, Naomi (barely visible behind Aga) and Bob carefully descend a steep rubble slope on the east side of the West Peak.  In the background are the North Peak (left) and the main summit of Moose Mountain.
Okay, we can relax again! The steep rubble gives way to easier terrain below.  The Centre Peak and the bump (far right) that Gillean Daffern refers to as "the hub" can be seen in the background.
We didn't even notice the goats until we were quite far away... Precipitous cliffs of the West Peak are revealed as the group hikes southward.  Note the herd of mountain goats grazing on the grassy slopes below the cliffs.
Reminds me of Forgetmenot Mountain's various outliers! The group heads up easy slopes to the top of the Centre Peak.

Second summit!

Sonny, Zosia, Aga, Bob, Shaun, Naomi and Jeff stand atop the Centre Peak (2322 metres).


After lunch, our group returned to the hub before turning southward to follow the delightful connecting ridge to the South Peak.  Some easy scrambling is required to surmount a couple of rock bands along this ridge, but nobody had any problems here.  At the top of the South Peak, we were passed by a faster party of three consisting of a familiar Facebook acquaintance, Geoff Hardy, and his partners, Lito Ochotorena and Jean-François Richy.  They were finishing up a similar but even longer loop hike which also included Jumpingpound Mountain, the northern peaks of Moose Mountain, and the main summit itself.  While these three quickly disappeared down the southwest slopes of the South Peak, we followed them partway down but eventually steered more to the west to follow the edge of an escarpment along the drainage separating the West and South Peaks.  Lower down, we re-entered light forest and ultimately crossed to the other side of the drainage before working our way across some grassy meadows to intersect the same road we had followed across Moose Mountain Creek.  We soon passed the spot where we had originally left the road, and the rest of our hike back to the trailhead was nice and uneventful.
Geoff Hardy and his crew were descending the West Peak at around this time. Leaving the top of the Centre Peak, the group heads back to the hub at far left.  At right is the West Peak.
That's South Peak, not South Park! The connecting ridge to the South Peak looks a bit daunting.
The goats are still there! Here is a more comprehensive view of the West Peak.
Instead, it's a real delight to scramble up the ridge. Despite appearances, the rock bands guarding the ridge do not pose any significant challenges to the group.
Looks like the Hillary Step on Everest! The group scrambles up the last and biggest rock band guarding the ridge.

Three for three, baby!

Standing beside the cairn on the South Peak (2302 metres) are (L to R) Sonny, Zosia, Bob, Jeff, Naomi, Aga and Shaun.


Man, those guys are fast! The group follows a trio of hikers led by Geoff Hardy to the far end of the South Peak's summit ridge.

There are still two other peaks on Moose Mountain that I haven't done yet.

Here is a last look at the various peaks of Moose Mountain from the end of the South Peak's summit ridge.


Time to get down...and boogie! The group descends the west slopes of the South Peak.
Get ready to do a little route-finding ahead... Naomi, Jeff and Zosia drop down along the edge of an escarpment as they aim for the glades at centre.
On the road again...

The group regains the road that they originally abandoned near the crossing of Moose Mountain Creek.

A fantastic hike that deserves more attention. Total Distance:  19.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 35 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  1064 metres

GPX Data