North Summit – Trail Info
The North Summit of the Gray Creek Pass is by far the more well-trodden of the two peaks, with a well-defined trail and views that include Crawford Bay, Kootenay Lake, Kokanee Glacier, Mt. Loki, and the South Summit. The trail begins by ascending up a wide track to a short system of interconnected paths that all lead to the main trail. If in doubt, choose the widest option. Flat terrain is quickly replaced with a short but quite steep section leading through the treeline to a small saddle with scree and furry little pikas. Don’t climb the scree, a path leads to the ridge line on the right where the view starts opening up. Hike up the steep and somewhat loose ridge to the summit – its worth the grind. At the top you are rewarded with a grand 360 vista of all the Southern Purcells have to offer. For less than an hour of hiking, this trail really delivers the good stuff. Also while on the summit, if you are considering increasing the challenge level a bit by hiking the South Summit, this is the place to plan your route.
South Summit – Trail Info
Like the North Summit, the South Summit of Gray Creek Pass provides an expansive view of the surrounding Purcell Mountains – Mt. Loki, Haystack Mountain, Kootenay Lake and Kokanee Glacier are all visible from the top. The appeal to this peak – the lower of the two – is the view down to Oliver Lake and across to the North Summit.
The trailhead is located immediately across the road from the North Summit trailhead, ascending briefly up the bank to an abandoned cabin. Its definitely an eyesore. At this point there trail becomes more or less non-existent. You will be required to find your own path. When in doubt veer further left (east), as the terrain on the Oliver Lake side of the ridge is very steep. You will find yourself dipping up and down through the forest for 10 or 20 minutes, proceeding generally uphill until you reach the rocky slopes above the primary treeline. At this point its a scramble to the top, though it may be easier to veer left and hike the ridge rather than b-lining it for the summit. The South Summit, while more challenging, is well worth the effort for those who are confident in their ability to scramble up scree and perform some basic route finding.