By Joe Lucas
Summit Trail Makers Society
What is your favourite hike? With so many spectacular and memorable hikes in the Invermere area, it is challenging to narrow it down to just one choice. However there is one hike – Brewer Creek – that draws me back year after year. If you haven’t done this one yet, now is the perfect time to add it to your to-do list. Though Brewer is a great hike any time of year, the fall colours of the larch and tamarack turn the whole basin into a kaleidoscope of greens, oranges and yellows. The best time of the year to catch the larches in their full glory is in the latter part of September. Larches are unusual trees in that they are deciduous conifers: cone-bearing trees that lose their needles every fall.
Drive 18 kilometres out Westside Road to Hawk Road (13th Avenue turns into Westside Road going south), take a right when you see a large parking area with the Hoodoo kiosk on your right. With a further 26 km to the trailhead, stay on the main dirt road for the next 11 km until you come to a fork in the road. Go straight (the other fork goes left) up a slight hill for 0.5 km before taking a less traveled road going left. There should be a Brewer Creek sign here. Continue on this road to the trailhead.
Late this summer, STMS did some roadwork to improve the last 6 km. This included leveling rough sections and putting in more water-bars. While a 4-wheel drive vehicle may no longer be necessary, a high-clearance vehicle is still recommended to avoid hiking the last 2 km of road. Expect a 60 minute drive to the trailhead from Invermere.
Once on the trail, you gain 460 meters in 4.7 km before you get to the first of many tarns (mountain lakes or ponds) in the area. For the first 2 km you parallel Brewer Creek in the trees, gaining 240 meters before breaking out into an open meadow. This is where you start to catch your first glimpse of the spectacular display put on by the larches now turning from forest green to a soft yellow. Upon reaching the first tarn you can either take the trail to the right that will take you down past another tarn before you take the ridge that goes to the top of Mount Brewer. This trail is just over 2 km and gains over 400 meters to an elevation of 2743 meters at the top of Mount Brewer. With the golden larch spread out below you, surveying the surrounding area from the top is truly breath taking. Going left at the first tarn for another 1.5 km will take you up onto a ridge at the end of the valley. From the ridge, looking back to the east you get a great view of Brewer Basin, and to the west you look down on one of the tributaries that feed Mineral Creek. Everywhere you look the golden larches provide a dramatic contrast to the clear blue sky of a fall day. With winter just around the corner bear in mind that a warm and sunny start might give way to chilly temperatures and snow flurries. Packing a down jacket, a toque and gloves will help avoid a miserable hike back to the vehicles. Enjoy your time in the mountains.
Summit Trail Makers Society (STMS) maintains various hiking trails in the Invermere area. For a list of these trails and information about them, please visit www.summittrailmakers.ca.