July 22, 2020
Apart from Swansea, Pedley Pass is the most accessible hike in the Invermere area on the limestone side of the Rocky Mountain Trench. If you want granite, then it’s the other side of the valley for you.
Time flies and things change! The last time I was at Pedley was about 10 years ago. My kids were eight, the road was near impassible without a 4×4 truck, and there was only one trail. Now the road is in pretty darn good shape, and there is a whole new route to explore!
Before, it was a There and Back route to Pedley Pass overlook, with a side trip to the little tarn. Now, there is a whole new section that takes you up and around a gorgeous ridge, which then connects to Pedley Pass and back to the parking lot. A big thank you to my friend Nancy for suggesting the route. I’m sure glad we hiked it!
All your regular hiking gear – boots, pack and poles. There are no scree slopes, so no need for gators unless you go when there is still snow.
I might suggest a bathing suit and towel. My hubby Mike went for a swim, and I dipped in up to my knees. On a smoking hot day in summer, you’ll thank me for the idea.
From the parking lot, take the Pedley Ridge Trail. Climb the switchbacks until you gain the ridge. Follow ridge up and around to Pedley Pass. At the junction, either do the side trip to the Tarn, or continue on the trail to loop back to the parking lot.
As with just about any hike in British Columbia, getting there is half the fun (read: stress). As Pedley is located on an active mine and forestry road, I will not include driving instructions. Instead, I am linking to the local experts as they will have the latest updates on road conditions or changes.
We drove an all wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe and it did great. If you are not comfortable doing the last 2 -3 km in your vehicle, there is no shame in parking lower down and walking up. Indeed, last time I was here I drove a Dodge Caravan. We had to walk the final distance to the parking lot. If two 8 year old girls can do it, so can you.
Once at the trail head, there are two trail options. The trail marker at the NORTH end of the parking lot is the scenic and longer Pedley Ridge to Pedley Pass route.
The trail marker for the traditional direct route to Pedley Pass is on the SOUTH end of the parking lot.
Theoretically, you can do the loop in any direction, but I highly recommend starting at the north end at the Pedley Ridge trail and going clockwise. There are some quality switchbacks of which you can take advantage. The Pedley Pass route is straight up with no switchbacks. If you are short on time, then start at the south Pedley Pass trail head for a quick there and back trip.
Take the north Pedley Ridge trail head. Once on the trail, trek through luscious thick BC forest.
After about 600 m, the switchbacks begin.
We gained an obscene amount of elevation over the next 1.6 km or so of switchbacks, but it never felt too bad of an incline. You know you are nearing the end of the switchbacks when you finally get a break in the trees for a sneak peak at the view.
Once the switchbacks ended, we traversed across the side of the mountain, passing a rock garden along the way.
After about 2.7 km, we made an abrupt right hand turn, and were now on the start of the ridge.
The ridge undulates down, and then back up a steep slope to gain the high point of Pedley Ridge.
This section is gorgeous. Remember look behind you to get a view of Mount Assiniboine on a clear day.
The ridge itself is rocky and interesting. The scenery generally takes your mind off the ascent.
We arrived at the summit cairn of Pedley Ridge after 1 hr and 40 m of hiking. The elevation is 2,451 m with a gain of 465 m and 3.8 km of distance.
From the Pedley Ridge high point, we continued along the undulating ridge to Pedley Pass Overlook.
Pedley Pass Overlook is a wide open slope, and was the high point of the trail all those years ago. This is a very popular spot, as you can tell by the beaten down vegetation.
It took us 2 hours and 8 minutes (about 25 minutes from Pedley Ridge) to hike here. The total distance is 5 km. Elevation is 2,280 m. We had a small bite to eat here, but decided to save our lunch for the side trip to the tarn.
Pedley Pass Overlook to Pedley Pass Junction
From Pedley Pass Overlook, head straight down the ridge to the Pedley Pass Junction. This is about 1 km of distance.
The Pedley Pass Junction is now extremely well signed. Blessings to the trail maintenance volunteers for bestowing their trail markers on weary travelers. Ten years ago, it was NOT clear which route took you to the tarn, and we added a few KM and a lot of unnecessary elevation loss/gain by going down the wrong valley. No need for that mistake now!
If you want to skip the tarn, then turn right at the Junction and head straight back to the parking lot.
To go to the tarn, turn left (south) at the junction.
Then take your next immediate right (south west). If you continue straight south, that draws you down the wrong valley, as I found out the hard way years ago.
Hike up to the high point, and then enjoy the long slope down to the base of the tarn. Hike through a small bumpy meadow at the base of the towering mountain.
From here, we climbed up boulders and small rock steps to gain the outer rim of the tarn’s little head wall.
From the Junction, it is about 1.3 km to the tarn. Total distance is 7.1 km, and about 2 hours and 55 minutes of total travelling time (including stops for photos and snacks).
Pedley Pass Return
From the tarn, return the way you came. I thought it was going to be a bit of a slog to get back up the hill from the base of the tarn, but the grade was actually quite nice. I think refreshing at the lake with food and a small dip made all the difference.
At Pedley Junction, we turned left (west) and made our way back the final 2 km to the parking lot.
As it was now later in the day, and we were on the main trail, it started to get busy. Lots of people were coming up the trail. I was glad to be going down, because it was more or less straight up the ridge, with nary a switchback to be found.
We got back to the parking lot at 1:00 pm. It took us one hour from the tarn to return to the parking lot. Total hiking time was 4 hours and 20 minutes, including leisure time. Total distance was 10.8 km.
Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: July 22, 2020
Group: Six (Alisen, Mike, Two Ski Friends Nancy & Dani, and The Two Barbs)
Distance: 10.88 km
Elevation: 680 m (2,244′) Includes all gains / losses.
Time: 4 hours 20 minutes (includes lunch and breaks)