Mount Murray resides in the middle of the Spray Mountain Range in Kananaskis Provincial Park along with such notables as Shark Mountain and The Fist hemmed in to the west by the 11,172' Mount Sir Douglas on the Continental Divide. Mount Murray was officially named (as most mountains in the area) after a WWI General in 1918.
Mount Murray sees few scramblers, and for good reason, it is quite a scree fest. The views are grand, but there are many other options in the area to obtain the same viewpoint, without the same amount of scree. The access described in the route section also serves as the backdoor into Mount Sir Douglas as well as the Haig, French, Robertson and Smith-Dorrien Glaciers, the largest assemblage of glaciers in Kananaskis. A non-maintained trail up French Creek serves as a backcountry-mountaineering ski route in the winter. The only published route for Mount Murray is the moderate scramble traverse from the unnamed peak to the north. There are no published alpine or ski routes up the mountain. The views include the big three in Kananaskis, Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Joffre and Mount Assiniboine. To the north are views of Mount Engadine and Mount Chester. Mount Birdwood thoroughly entertains via the west during your entire ascent. I have not included the Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies book on this page. Details regarding this decision can be found in the route section.
From the Canmore Nordic Center, drive 40 km south on the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road (gravel). Turn right at signs for the Burstall Pass day use parking lot. You are guaranteed mountain sheep on the Spray Lakes Road and once in a blue moon, a moose or two. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. I have seen a black bear on the Burstall Pass trail in the past. There are no park headquarters on this road. Kananaskis Park headquarters are located on Highway 40 east of Canmore. Any recent notices will be posted on the bulletin board at that location. If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount Murray in July and it was in good condition with minimal snow above 8000’. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Murray, nor would it be conducive to ski to the summit.
The closest camping is located back at the north end of Spray Lakes Reservoir across the dam at random campsites located on the west shore of the lake. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding camping and/or lodging. A premium accommodation is the Engadine Lodge which is only several kilometers north on Spray Lake Road.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel.
""You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.""