On April 29, 1903, at 4:10 am, 82 million tonnes (30 million cubic metres) of limestone slid off the summit of Turtle Mountain and buried a portion of the sleeping, mining town of Frank. The dimensions of the rock mass that fell are 150 metres (500 feet) deep, 425 metres (1,400 feet) high and one kilometre (3,280 feet) wide. The mechanism of movement that enabled the rockslide-avalanche to spread over 3 square kilometres (1.2 square miles) of the valley in less than 100 seconds has been the subject of considerable discussion.
At daylight, the inhabitants of Frank and area scrambled onto boulders and viewed a grey rocky landscape swirling with dust. The main part of the town was intact, but the mine entrance and mine buildings were buried. Seventeen miners trapped inside performed an astonishing self-rescue. They tunnelled upwards and broke through the surface on the face of the mountain.
Out of 600 people in Frank, 100 were in the path of the slide. Cottages at the east end of town were crushed; amazingly 23 people in that area survived. Out of approximately 70 people killed, only 12 bodies were recovered.
The trail is a moderately steep ridge walk along the west spine of the mountain. A well worn trail proceeds to the first summit. The second requires some down scrambling before ascending again (photo Turtle2). The area burned by the Lost Creek Fire of 2003 is evident along the west face of Turtle Mt. Impressive views of prairies to the east, the Livingstone Range and Crowsnest Mt. to the north and west.
Return the way you came or descend down east ridge and exit at Hillcrest (shorter but steeper). A vehicle shuttle permits an easy traverse.
Note: This is a scramble. Be aware that scrambling can injure or kill you. Be prepared, know your limits and make sure somebody knows where you're going.
NTS Map: 082G09 Elevation Gain: 900 m (2,950 ft).
Park below powerline behind residential area of 134 St. in Blairmore. Trailhead is marked by yellow painted rocks near chain link fence blocking access to old quarry.
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change
Posted By: amandinepras
- Sat Mar 30 21:36:02 UTC 2019
I would like to hike Turtle Trail this weekend with some friends. Does somebody hike it in the last few days? I am wondering about the amount of snow that is on the trail?
AmandineANSWERS are in this forum: Turtle Trail, AB, conditions?
Posted By: deschnell
- Mon Jun 20 04:58:57 UTC 2016
QuestionHi - wondering if there's a little plateau at or near the summit(s) anywhere to set up a tent for overnight?ANSWERS are in this forum: Tenting area near top?
Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Thu May 19 16:20:43 UTC 2016
UpsideThis is a very nice scramble with easy and fun rocky ridge up to summit I and great (but not so safe) scrambling if staying on the ridge to the summit II. DownsideReally busy in the afternoon, start early! CommentEdwards Rating: I (III) S M (when staying on the ridge between the 2 summits & with some snow that day) 4 to 6 hours, 7.52km return to Summit II up to the helicopter platform Elevation of 1001 m TOT & max 2212 m Great early-late season scramble ***** I thought this was an incredible scramble just because of the history and impressive rockslide as well as opened views most of the time. We did it in May and there was fresh snow from the week before so it made it a little more challenging since we decided to stay on the ridge from summit I to summit II. There`s literally fissures/fractures every 2-3 steps and with that snow covering most of them it was really tricky and made it even more interesting even though way riskier. Most parties will lose elevation from summit I and avoid this kind of terrain by sidesloping lower on the right and then hiking back up to summit II. We continued up to the helicopter platform but since we had only one car not so much time in front of us we did not try going down and complete a loop as some are suggesting. We really loved the experience but I am not sure I would recommend to anyone scrambling in the fractures as we did, this is your call.
Posted By: tlltgrier
- Thu May 27 03:30:04 UTC 2010
QuestionCan I safely take a dog on this hike? or would there be danger in her falling or sliding? she is an Australian SheapardANSWERS are in this forum: Dogs
Posted By: ryandubya
- Mon Jun 22 16:23:07 UTC 2009
Upsidegreat views of the towns and crowsnest mountain Downsideit was rainy when we went, and low clouds prevented us from reaching the summit (but we were reeeeeally close) CommentWe had trouble finding the starting point and ended up following a different trail that went south from the town through the forest, then east.. may have made for a steeper climb than necessary. Will be attempting this one again very soon, hopefully with clear skies and the right trail =).
Posted By: theshadowgod
- Mon May 12 22:56:55 UTC 2008
QuestionI have noticed that there is a discrepancy between this site and the Allen Kane book “Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies”. I have hiked just over a dozen of the summits listed in the Allen Kan book and the level of difficulty listed in this book deals only with the amount of hands on scrambling required to summit and in no way is a depiction of how difficult it actually is to summit. I am wondering if this site has a similar rating system just on a different scale or if the difficulty rating represents something other than how much hands on scrambling is required to reach the summit.ANSWERS are in this forum: Difficulty discrepancy?
Posted By: bfcoffey
- Wed Apr 25 20:19:19 UTC 2007
CommentThe trailhead is quite easy to find if you park below powerline behind residential area of 134 St. in Blairmore. Trailhead is marked by yellow painted rocks near chain link fence blocking access to old quarry.
If this is confusing, ask for directions to 134 St. at the Shell station, or just ask for the Turtle Mt trailhead.
Posted By: Cooter5
- Thu Aug 24 04:20:15 UTC 2006
UpsideExcellent views from the top. Very interesting to see all the monitoring equipment. DownsideWe found some information in an older book which was inaccurate as far as finding the west trailhead. The book said to go to the Shell service station outside of town, walk approx. 200 m west and cross the highway. There was supposed to be a "well used trail" at this spot, but we couldn't find anything. We ended up going to Hillcrest and starting from there. The trail here was even difficult to locate. The start of the trail that takes you up was not marked at all. CommentThis is an excellent and difficult hike, with proper mapping this hike could one of the top hikes in the area.
Posted By: bfcoffey
- Tue Jan 17 22:28:34 UTC 2006
CommentI have checked my data, maps and guidebooks. The best information I can come up with says that the elevation gain is 900m (2,950'). After you reach the first summit, you have to downclimb about 25m elevation (max) and then up again about 50m (max), making a total climb of about 950m (3,117') max.