Plateau Mountain

Longview, Alberta

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Plateau Mountain is unique in the Canadian Rockies. Once a nunatuk rising above the glaciers of the last ice age, a refuge for animals and plants of that period, it is today a steep-sided mesa with over 14 sq. km rising above the 2300 m level. Back in 1937, geologist Joe Irwin reckoned Plateau was the most perfect oil dome he had ever seen. It's true. Below the summit sandstones lurks an anticline of Rundle Group limestones harbouring oil and gas retained in traps. After the area's gold rush fizzled out in 1931, the search for oil was on in Savanna Creek, Dry Creek and on Flat-top or Table Mountain as Plateau was then called. A road was built from Skeen's Mine over The Hump to Dry Creek where Anglo-Canadian Oil began drilling for oil. Things didn't really get going, though, until the 1950s when gas was discovered and roads were extended from one end of the plateau to the other. Today, Husky Oil continues to operate two gas wells on the summit, even though a large part is now an ecological reserve. This means no motorized vehicles, no hunting sheep, no collecting of rare plants and butterflies. There are no trails to the top, only company roads leading to lonely gas wells. Use a bike, wind willing. Once up there, it pays to get off the beaten track by either walking around the edges or just plain wandering about, field guides to hand, searching for uncommon alpines such as Pygmy bitter root (Lewisia pygmaea), the Flame-coloured lousewort (Pedicularis flammea), Yellow fleabane (Erigeron ochroleucus) and Primula egaliksensis, a smaller edition of the Bird's-eye primrose.

Plateau Mountain Professional Review and Guide

"Plateau Mountain is unique in the Canadian Rockies. Once a nunatuk rising above the glaciers of the last ice age, a refuge for animals and plants of that period, it is today a steep-sided mesa with over 14 sq. km rising above the 2300 m level. Back in 1937, geologist Joe Irwin reckoned Plateau was the most perfect oil dome he had ever seen. It's true. Below the summit sandstones lurks an anticline of Rundle Group limestones harbouring oil and gas retained in traps. After the area's gold rush fizzled out in 1931, the search for oil was on in Savanna Creek, Dry Creek and on Flat-top or Table Mountain as Plateau was then called. A road was built from Skeen's Mine over The Hump to Dry Creek where Anglo-Canadian Oil began drilling for oil. Things didn't really get going, though, until the 1950s when gas was discovered and roads were extended from one end of the plateau to the other. Today, Husky Oil continues to operate two gas wells on the summit, even though a large part is now an ecological reserve. This means no motorized vehicles, no hunting sheep, no collecting of rare plants and butterflies. There are no trails to the top, only company roads leading to lonely gas wells. Use a bike, wind willing. Once up there, it pays to get off the beaten track by either walking around the edges or just plain wandering about, field guides to hand, searching for uncommon alpines such as Pygmy bitter root (Lewisia pygmaea), the Flame-coloured lousewort (Pedicularis flammea), Yellow fleabane (Erigeron ochroleucus) and Primula egaliksensis, a smaller edition of the Bird's-eye primrose."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Longview
Distance: 8.83
Trail Type: Several options
Duration: Day hikes
Local Maps: Maps 82 J / 2 Fording River and 82 J / 7 Mount Head NTS.
Driving Directions: Directions to Plateau Mountain

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May 2018