With Pinto Mountain only 20 km from Invermere and with the upgrades Summit Trail Makers Society did last summer, Pinto is a must-do hike. From the top you get unobstructed views of the Stanford Range (which Pinto is in), Mount Nelson to the west and Mount Assiniboine off to the northeast. Once on the trail the return trip is about 7.2 km with an elevation gain of 940 metres.
Driving from the lights at Tim Horton’s, go south on highway 95 for 2.9 km where you turn left onto the Windermere Loop Road. Go for 3.2 km where you turn left onto the mine road. You are very close to the Mount Swansea recreation area. From the CertainTeed Mine maintenance shed, go 3.2 km to take the first left onto a gravel road. After years of inactivity, this area will see some active logging either this summer or next, so watch for road maintenance and logging trucks. Stay on this road for the next 6.7 km, and after a steady climb this road will level out where you start to look for the first right. Go about 800 m where you take the more well worn road on the left for the last 500 m to the parking lot. Driving from the lights at Tim Horton’s to the parking lot is about 17.5 km with an elevation gain of 720 m.
If you are early in the hiking season look for yellow lilies early in the hike. After about 1.5 km, the trail starts to open up into a large meadow with long, steep grassy slopes to the right. Continue on the trail as it goes back into the trees then on to the saddle. Here the trail takes a sharp right along the ridge to the peak. This is the steepest part of the hike but you will be rewarded with some great views of the valley and the Purcell mountain range. As you near the top you will encounter a false summit. The actual summit is a bit further on, marked by a cairn. Enjoy your time in the mountains.
Summit Trail Makers Society maintains various hiking trails in the Columbia Valley. For a list of these trails and information about them, please visit www.summittrailmakers.ca.