Since we were camping in the area over the weekend of June 15, I decided I might as well drag my family up the diminutive Packenham Junior with it's not-so-diminutive views. The rumors on this outlier of the much higher and more impressive Mount Packenham are true - it's a steep grind with no trail and sweet views. We parked in the ditch along Hwy #40, just up from about 20 cars that were parked for the obviously MUCH more popular Grizzly Peak just to the north of our destination.
After crossing the highway, we made our way up the steep, lightly forested west face of Packenham Junior. We started on the south side of the face, next to Hood Creek, but angled pretty consistently to the north until we finally hit the west ridge about 3/4 of the way up. A series of small cliffs necessitated some minor route finding to keep the scrambling easy, but other than that this was a steep hike on grassy slopes.
[An ominous start!]
[From near the bottom you can already see glimpses of the top - but it's not quite as close as it seems.]
[Looking north down the Hwy 40 corridor towards Lawson and James Walker.]
[It's an unrelenting grind upwards but at least the views open up quickly.]
[As you work your way north (left) to the west ridge Grizzly Peak becomes pretty prominent.]
[Breaking tree line.]
Near the summit we finally encountered some steep scree before the angle leveled off and we enjoyed some fantastic afternoon views of the Opal Range peaks and the Kananaskis Lakes area. Descent was quick and easy.
[Pretty sweet views for such limited effort. King Creek Ridge on the left, Kananaskis Lakes at distant center and Lawson at right. ++]
[It's steep enough that some hikers may not love it.]
[Looking across hwy 40 to Lawson, Inflexible and James Walker. Grizzly Peak at right.]
[Beautiful summit views looking north towards Grizzly Peak at left. Evan Thomas towers at center with Packenham and Mount Hood at right. ++]
[The views south aren't any worse than the north ones! Here we have (L to R), Packenham, Hood, Brock, Blane, Burny, King Creek Ridge and the Kananaskis Lakes. ++]
[A huge herd of sheep at the Packenham col.]
[Tele-pano looking south over the Kananaskis Lakes area includes peaks such as (L to R), Fox, Foch, Rawson Lake Ridge, Sarrail, Marlborough and Mount Joffre. ++]
[A beautiful late afternoon hike.]
[Looking up the headwaters of Hood Creek.]
[Looking towards Mount Kidd South.]
[Derek's first Rockies summit!]
[A nice viewpoint on descent of the west ridge looking north.]
[There's enough greenery on this slope to make it quite slick. I'd imagine it's a bit of a nightmare when wet.]
[A great view towards Grizzly Peak from the west ridge showing it's steep access slopes at right. There were probably 50 people on that mountain and only us on ours.]
I highly recommend this small outing for a quick trip with great views. One caution I can make is to make sure you hit that west ridge rather than go straight up or down the west face, especially if you're with beginner scramblers. The west face gets very steep and is mostly grassy so can be very slick too.