PHoto by Joe Lucas

Spectacular scenery on Jumbo Pass trail

Summit Trail Makers Society column

By Joe Lucas

Summit Trail Makers Society

Yes, another article about Jumbo; however this time there is no politics involved. My intent here is to get you out and up to Jumbo Pass where you can overlook both East and West Kootenay with the turn of your head. To make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery, an early start is best since it will take you 1.5 hours to cover the 53 km to the trailhead from Invermere. When the Toby Creek road takes you past Panorama (18.8 km) it is gravel road for the rest of the drive with some very rough sections near the trail. There are turns along the way so please refer to a local guidebook for more detailed directions.

A word of caution: you must remember you are traveling in the mountains where weather conditions can vary greatly and change quickly. The day may start as a beautiful sunny morning in Invermere, but you could later find yourself in a snowstorm at Jumbo Pass. You will be a long way from any help so be prepared with sturdy boots, bear spray, food, water, foul-weather clothing, map or GPS, and perhaps a basic first aid kit. Every summer I am dismayed by the potential for disaster when I meet people on the trail who are ill-prepared for anything other than a one-hour walk on a warm sunny day close to town.

Once at the trailhead, it is a 4.2 km hike to the Jumbo Pass cabin gaining 660 metres. From the trailhead it is a steady climb for just over 3 km until you breakout of the dense trees into more open terrain. Up to this point there have been a few tantalizing hints of the views to come from certain vantage points along the trail prior to this, but here is where you get the first of many awe inspiring views of Karnak Mountain and Jumbo Mountain when looking east. The trail then meanders up onto a ridge heading northwest towards Jumbo Pass. You know you have reached the actual pass when you come to a slight dip in the ridge where you will find a trail coming up from the West Kootenays. Continue on for just over half a kilometre to the cabin.

This is perhaps the quintessential spot for lunch: a cabin, an outhouse, a grassy meadow, a small lake where you can send the kids to burn off that excess energy you wish you had. The views are not half-bad either. After lunch it is worth the extra effort to trek an additional 0.5 km, gaining 130 metres to ascend a small knoll where the 360-degree view will leave a lasting memory. With your map in hand it is easy to pick out the peaks of Jumbo Mountain, Karnak Mountain, Mount Earl Grey and Redtop Mountain in the East Kootenay, and in the West Kootenay there is Mount Lady Macbeth, Mount Macbeth, and Volley Mountain along with Horseshoe Glacier. As you retrace your steps back to your vehicle you won’t soon forget feelings of being deep in the Purcell Mountains. 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

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