I’ve done many road trips to British Columbia, because there’s a ton of beauty there, so it’s natural I’m super excited whenever I go. Maybe you noticed I borrowed the words from the well-known phrase, Super, natural British Columbia. Luckily, not much travel time is necessary to experience BC’s super naturalness. The following hikes with views are close to the border, just a 3-4 hour drive from Spokane.
Old Glory Mountain / Rossland —Near Red Mountain Ski Resort, Old Glory (7,798 ft.) is the highest peak along the Seven Summits Trail, a well-known mountain biking route of which a short segment is used for this hike. On the July weekday I did this hike, I also explored a few miles of the Seven Summits Trail and saw not a single cyclist. I ran into several hiking parties doing Old Glory, however. The trail is well-maintained, has no dangerous hazards, and is 10.5 miles roundtrip with a 3,577 ft. elevation gain. More info: westkootenayhiking.ca/old-glory-mountain/
Trail Bluffs / Trail — I was strolling about Trail, imagining living in this quaint working-class town known for its sprawling, century-old smelter and their hockey team, the Smoke Eaters. (An incident from a 1929 hockey game has been suggested for the name; however, the now cleaned-up smelter used to belch lots of smoke.) There was a Canadian flag on a bluff high above, and I theorized a trail led to it. I passed a woman working in her yard and inquired. She confirmed my theory and gave directions to the trailhead. I explored the trail network, reached the flag, and exited at the other end near the hospital. The day being very warm, I walked to a downtown brewpub I’d spied earlier, Trail Beer Refinery. I wondered how a small town could support a roomy, well-capitalized, attractive, craft brewery. Anyway, the Trail Bluffs are around 9 miles if you do all the segments, and, with a high point of only 2,673 feet, hikeable by early spring. Trail and Rossland are just 6 miles apart, so you can do both Old Glory and Trail Bluffs on a weekend trip. More info: kcts.ca/trails/trail-bluffs
Fisher Peak / Cranbrook — I long admired the steep, rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies north of Cranbrook, thinking the peaks were un-hikeable. Then I found out there are trails on the more approachable backside. Fisher Peak, the highest at 9,336 feet, is a tough hike. It’s steep, and, approaching the top, requires scrambling over large boulders. The day I did Fisher, I was treated to a thunderstorm while at the summit. I took shelter a couple hundred feet below and while eating lunch watched with intrigue as rising air condensed then quickly evaporated after clearing the narrow ridge just below me. Only one lightning strike was remotely near me, so I never felt in danger.
Back at the hotel, the husband/wife owners told me they’d been training to do Fisher, but an injury ended their plan. I gathered that summiting Fisher Peak is a community goal analogous to Spokanites finishing Bloomsday. Roundtrip 6 miles / 4,400 foot gain. More info: cranbrooktourism.com/things-to-do/trails/fisher-peak-hike //
James P Johnson