Missing Link Mountain

October 15, 2020

With the snow flying in October, I was on the hunt for a close and lower elevation hike. My hiking partner Annette found exactly what I was looking for – Missing Link Mountain.

Located in Sheep River Provincial Park, Missing Link is a very close and accessible mountain that does not see much action, mainly because it is located off Gorge Creek Trail. This road was closed for several years after the 2013 flood, but is now open.

Missing 1
On our way to Missing Link Mountain, we came across a cattle drive. They were none too soon in moving out these cows as the snow started in earnest shortly after. Photo credit: Annette Caesar.

While there was more snow than I expected (10 cm), we managed to find our way and were rewarded with some spectacular views of the big mountains to the west. While a lot of this short hike is in the trees, there are enough interesting views of the jagged cliffs to keep us well entertained, and made this an enjoyable hike.

Note: Highway 546 into Sheep River Provincial Park has an annual road closure from December 1 to May 14th.

There was a band of cloud as we drove towards Sheep River Provincial Park, however we could see that we would be in glorious sunshine for our hike. Photo credit: Annette Caesar.

Gear

Hiking boots, poles and your regular day pack kit. If going when snowy, also bring gators and spikes. Black bears and cougars are plentiful.

Overview

Park at the base of the trail at one of the two ascent routes. Head straight up to the wall of rock, find the chimney and climb up. Go left and follow the ridge until it runs out. Then head into the forest to pick up the crest of the wide ridge. After going down and then back up, you are at an open meadow. Continue straight to pick up the trail to the summit. After curving around to nab the summit, continue in that same direction until you close the loop at the same open meadow. From here, return the way you came.

Parking and Trail Head

Gorge Creek Trail is accessed from Highway 546. This used to continue all the way to Highway 549 by Millarville, but it is now decommissioned at the Gorge Creek Day Use area and is mostly grass.

Turn right onto Gorge Creek Trail from Highway 546. The first Missing Link trail head is about 1 km from the turn off. There is a small pull out on the west side, just past the creek crossing.

Our first view of Missing Link. Apparently, the top of this outcrop is called Dot Mountain. The parking spot is just around the corner, after you cross the seasonal creek bed. We turned around and parked on the west side at the little pullout.

After parking, I looked up towards our objective and could not see any discernable trail.

From the road, a trail definitely starts out into the trees. Unfortunately, it dies out almost immediately.

The route on my map was basically straight up to the rock outcrop, which you can definitely do. Instead, I chose to switchback my way up on the right side of this hill, finding lots of animal trails that felt the same way I did.

A view of the hill below the outcrop on the left, which is our destination. I switchbacked up the gentler slopes on the right, following several animal trails.
As I angled over to the base of the rock outcrop, we found some gorgeous trees hanging on for dear life in this harsh environment. Photo credit: Annette Caesar.

Main Trail

Once at the base of the rock outcrop, we had a look at our options.

In the middle is a crack – a short chimney that is good fun to scramble up. If this is a hard no for you, then simply hike to the right and walk up the gentle slope to the top.

We decided to have some fun, and scrambled up the short chimney to the top. If this doesn’t thrill you, then go around to the right and hike up the side.

Looking up the chimney. It is short, but a lot of fun.
Annette coming up the chimney. You can see the lovely and convenient rock steps that make going up and down enjoyable.

At the top, make sure to look around and enjoy the views.

From here, we had views of mountains further south, like Shunga-la-she, and Mount Hoffman.

From the top of the chimney, head north (climber’s left) and follow the ridgeline as it snakes along the top of the rock outcrop. Photographers would love this area as there is no shortage of interesting formations.

We walked along these picturesque cliffs, before turning into the forest.

Soon, the trail enters the forest as it follows the top of the wide ridgeline, generally heading NNE.

After walking through the forest for a little ways, we could see our next objective – the little mound at the top of the ridge.

The snow on average was about 10 cm, but deeper in some spots. The trail was visible for the most part, but I did manage to lose it completely in other areas.

This is open area on the ridge, as seen in the photo above. I did manage to lose the trail here, but I’m sure in the summer it is obvious.

It is a ridge hike though, so when in doubt just stay on the top of the ridge. On the way down, we did see a buried cairn in one of the trickier spots, so I’m sure it’s more than obvious in the summer.

Around 2 km, we started to lose elevation as we trudged through the forest. After the low point, the trail then gradually regained the lost elevation.

This is indicative of most of the forest.

All through the forest there was not so much as a blaze or a bit of flagging to help us out. However, once we found this wide cut on the crest of the very obvious ridge, someone decided to put in a bit of flagging. I am hoping they were being ironic?

You know you are on the right track when you find this super obvious break in the trees AND the pointy part of the ridge. It was here that someone decided to put in a bit of flagging…
After the cut in the trees, we finally got a glimpse of our final destination. The small open patch on the left is the summit area.

After the wide swath in the trees, we came to an open meadow. This is the start and end point of the loop around the summit of Missing Link Mountain. Continue more or less straight ahead in order to go counter-clockwise.

This is the open meadow that indicates the start/end of the loop to the summit. Our footprints are visible going straight (to start the loop) and coming in from the left (to end or close the loop)

Here we found some flagging and other obvious signs that we were headed in the correct direction. The forest is more wide open here, with lots of options. By heading in generally the correct direction, we picked up the ridge trail that led us directly to the summit cairn.

By following the GPS for a bit, we picked up this very obvious trail that lead us directly to the summit cairn.
Annette took this lovely photo of our packs and poles. I just threw my stuff down, but Annette saw the symmetry and captured it beautifully. Photo credit: Annette Caesar.

Distance to summit is about 3.2 km. Elevation gain is 398 m. Time to summit was 2 hours, 20 minutes at a very leisurely pace.

From the summit cairn, we walked down a bit to the ridge top directly west to enjoy our lunch. This gave us wonderful views in which to ponder life, and to dream about our next hiking adventure.

Gorge Creek Trail snakes its way below us. We can see the main Gorge Creek day use (DU) area with parking lot and outhouse in the centre left of this photo. Gorge Creek is the next valley over. Further west is Little Ware (LW) with Mount Ware’s (MW) white top poking out (centre of photo). Volcano Ridge (VR) is to the right of these two mountains. Bluerock Mountain is snow-covered and majestic in the back.
The following week I hiked up to Little Ware mountain. This is the view of the summit of Missing Link (left) from the Gorge Creek day use area.

Missing Link Mountain Return

To head back, we continued in the same direction to complete our loop.

We stayed on the ridge, enjoying the mountain vistas, as we made our way back to complete the loop.

We stayed on the ridge for a bit, then headed into the forest. Here it was fairly obvious as there were blazes on trees and some flagging. We were kindly shepherded straight back to the main trail at the open meadow.

It was very obvious when it was time to enter the forest. Straight ahead, you can see the one tree has a blaze on it. Looking across to the other high point, you can see a slightly open area, with the obvious cut line in the trees that we hiked up earlier.

Heading back, we actually got better views of the ridgeline with the steep rock walls below.

This is one of many gorgeous views of the rock walls.

Once again we decided to take the chimney down the rock wall.

We could see my car on the road, and decided to make a hasty beeline back towards it.

The view back down to the road from the base of the chimney. You can see my car on the side of the road. We bee-lined it straight down.

Missing Link Mountain is a fun, short and close hike that is an ideal shoulder season objective when the snow starts flying at higher elevations. It is also great for beginners and kids in the summer, when the trail will no doubt be quite obvious.

If you found this post useful, please do me a huge favour and click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, follow me on Instagram, or join my FaceBook page Al’s Adventurers.

Alisen

Totals ā€“ Tracked on Strava

Date: October 15, 2020
Group:  Two (Alisen and Annette)
Distance:  6.2  km
Elevation:  395 m (1,303ā€²)
Time:  4 hours (includes lunch & breaks)

The route to Missing Link Mountain is very straight-forward. Gain the ridge at the rocky outcrop, and stay on the ridge to the summit.
So, not a lot of elevation gain on this hike. One stiff bit in the beginning to get up that initial hill, but after that, it is gentle undulations.
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Posted in Adventures, Hiking
17 comments on “Missing Link Mountain
  1. Gibberish says:

    Beautiful pics šŸ˜šŸ˜

    • alisendopf says:

      Thank you. Both the scenery and Annette do most of the heavy lifting šŸ™‚ I am lucky that I seem to attract “official photographers” on my trips. I lead, they take photos.

  2. I’ve never hiked Missing Link. Thanks for the great info, maybe we’ll try it in the spring.

  3. Very nice post about Missing Link and great to see you already have snow there.

    Beautiful photos too.

    • alisendopf says:

      Thank you very much. This is very early for snow – we are setting all kinds of records this year. However, it probably won’t last. It’s already melting out in town, but am hoping it will stick around in the mountains and higher elevations. Fingers crossed!

  4. Snow!? Already!? I guess I should stop complaining about the weather here in Toronto. Glad you were able to get a good hike in and see some nice views along the way! Iā€™m thinking of buying some microspikes this year so I can extend the hiking season. I use snowshoes when there is a lot of snow, but spikes would be nice when its icy or when there isn’t a thick layer of snow.

    • alisendopf says:

      Microspikes have really changed the shoulder season. They are also great on winter snowshoe trails when the trail is pretty packed down already.

      I know – snow! I should first off say that we had the most amazing autumn. Sunny, warm, nice fall colours – this is very rare! We’ve had about 2 weeks of snow, but it’s already starting to melt out, at least in town and lower elevations. However, we did set several records for the earliest track setting on cross-country ski trails at several locations. I’m a skier so … let it snow! šŸ™‚

  5. Thanks for your like of my post, “View The Video. Read The Text. Acts 2:42. Which Teaching? Which Gospel?; you are very kind.

  6. Simplemente hermoso lugar!!!

  7. Wow! Amazing scenic trails and lovely pics. Glad you had a good hike šŸ‘šŸ»

  8. Kelly Curtis says:

    Very nice Alisen! Take care and thank you for following.

  9. Alisen, my hiking days are behind me, but I enjoyed the lovely photos! šŸ™‚

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