Home Destinations Jura Canyon Ice Walk (Jura Creek Trail), Exshaw

Jura Canyon Ice Walk (Jura Creek Trail), Exshaw

by Karen Ung

Jura Canyon ice walk takes you through a cool slot canyon near Canmore.

Jura Canyon Ice Walk, Exshaw, Alberta
Jura Canyon Ice Walk

For a fun winter adventure near Calgary, head to Jura Canyon. Traction devices are required as you’ll be walking on a frozen creek! Go as far as you like up the canyon (the slot canyon is quite small, but really cool!), then return the way you came. The trailhead is easy to find now, thanks to a new parking area.

Jura Creek Trail Route Description

Jura Creek Trail, Exshaw
Jura Creek Trail begins on the west side of the parking lot

From the Jura Creek parking lot, look for the trailhead sign on the west side of the parking lot. From here, you head west on 4×4 roads. There are quite a few trails, but as long as you head west, you’ll get to the creek! At the creekbed, go north (right) into the canyon between Exshaw Mountain (west) and Loder Peak (east). It’s about 800 metres to the canyon entrance.

Pop your traction devices on here – the ice is thick and slick!

Take your time exploring Jura Canyon. The slot canyon is only 150-200 metres long (Source), but super cool! Water has eroded the limestone over thousands of years to make the canyon the shape it is today. Many geology and geography students have come here to check out the canyon’s unique geography: tall walls of Palliser formation limestone, plunge pools, and the false fault upstream where limestone meets the Exshaw formation (darker rock; layers of shale, siltstone, and limestone).

Watch for slushy spots as you head upstream and go around them wherever possible as the water can be deep in some places.

My kids aren’t as keen on the rocks as I am; they’re more interested in finding fossils and sliding on the ice. We play a little ice soccer, continue to the end of the canyon (bypassing a slushy section en route), have a picnic, and turn around. On the way back, we notice a big cave on the left – something to explore next time!

You can hike back on the creekbed or through the trees. Since it was windy, we opted for the forest trail. All in all, we spent a pleasant two hours on the trail including a picnic lunch.

Jura Creek Trail at a Glance

Jura Creek is located 1 hour west of Calgary, or 15 minutes east of Canmore on Highway 1A.

  • Distance: 3 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: n/a
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Chariot friendly? no
  • Nearest washrooms: trailhead
  • Parking: “Jura Creek” parking lot (on the right hand side of highway 1A if you are heading west)
  • Trailhead: west side of parking lot
Jura Canyon Ice Walk, Exshaw, Alberta
I finally got them to sit still after playing hockey with a chunk of ice for 20 minutes!

Going Further

It is possible to continue on past the end of the slot canyon through the valley for a couple kilometres. Snowshoes are recommended as this part of of the trail is not heavily used (so snow may not be packed down). Distance: 7 km round trip (from parking lot), elevation gain: 216 metres.

You can also scramble Door Jamb and Loder Peak (the two peaks to the east of the canyon) and return via Jura Creek to make a fun loop.

Know Before You Go

There are some fairly deep plunge pools (knee deep to one metre) in the canyon, so you should wait until it has been well below freezing for a couple weeks before attempting.

Traction devices are required once you enter the slot canyon as you will be walking on ice. We recommend Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from AmazonMEC, and Camper’s Village), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at AmazonHillsound, and Sport Chek). For more information, please read our story: Traction devices for winter walks & hiking.

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