Grass Pass to Boundary Pine

March 19, 2021

Grass Pass was a last minute destination. The west winds can be absolutely brutal, and they completely blew us off Junction Hill. After deciding that it was too early in the day to call it quits, we found a nice sheltered hike just down the highway. Grass Pass to the lone limber pine turned out to be a great idea, because A) we were out of the wind for almost the entire hike, and B) the views of the surrounding peaks was actually quite impressive. If you only have a short amount of time or want something less demanding, then Grass Pass is a lovely hike.

Gear

Hiking boots, poles and your regular day pack kit.

Overview

From the trail head, hike up until you reach Grass Pass. From there, turn right and contour around to the top of the ridge. Stop at the trees. Return the way you came.

Parking and Trail Head

The ideal parking spot is the newly redesigned Sentinel Day Use area on Highway 541.

The car on the left is just coming out of Sentinel Day Use area. We are standing at the trail head. There is room to pull out on the side of the road, but we are here for exercise, so make an effort to park in the lot.

Walking east from the Sentinel parking lot, we found an opening in the trees on the north side of the highway.

Looking up the trail from the highway. There is a bit of marking tape, but really, it’s the only entrance along this stretch.

Main Trail

Once on the trail, it is a straight shot up the valley. The trail is sometimes tight, and sometimes wider. This area is used for cattle grazing in the summer and fall, so we were expecting lots of cows, but only found their resulting cow patties.

This is indicative of most of the trail. Nice and wide for two people to walk beside each other and chat.

After about 1.8 km, the trail widens out, and we got a view of Grass Pass up ahead.

Our first look at Grass Pass straight ahead. Unfortunately, there is lots of trail braiding here. This generally happens in the spring during run off or when the snow is melting. People will move over to avoid the muddy bits. This damages the native plants. Solution? Hike when it’s dry.
Getting closer to Grass Pass. We were lucky with a gorgeous blue bird day. What you can’t see is the howling wind. We were pretty protected in the valley, but are getting more exposed to the wind the higher we went.

Distance to Grass Pass is 2.8 km and an elevation gain of 423m. Time to hike was about 1 hr 15 minutes. Once at Grass Pass, there is no harm enjoying the views from here and turning around.

The 360 degree view from Grass Pass. While this is pretty, the best views are just a little bit further up.

Boundary Pine

To visit the Boundary Pine, we turned right (east) at the Pass and followed the curve of the hill as it wraps around. This is called Fir Creek Point Trail. We were not tempted by the higher trail, as that takes us over to Bull Creek Hills.

The trail heading almost straight up traverses over to Bull Creek Hills.
We took the lower, and much more travelled Fir Creek Point trail. NOTE the impressive mountain views to the south. This alone is worth the short trek. The mountain in the middle with snow on top is Mount Burke.

Fir Creek Point trail will eventually peter out at the top of the ridge, at a copse of trees.

Nearing the end. This is a short trail, with no real elevation gain.

There is one beautiful limber pine tree by itself that is the much sought after Boundary Pine. According to the Daffern’s, this tree was made famous by R. M. Patterson’s book The Buffalo Head. Click the links to see the tree in all its glory.

The impressive and lonely Boundary Pine. Directly behind is the summit of Gunnery Mountain, accessed from the next valley over.

Distance to Boundary Pine is 3.7 km, no increase in elevation, and an extra hiking time of about 20 minutes. Well worth the effort.

The Boundary Pine offsets Holy Cross Mountain (first peak) and Mount Head (triple peak in the distance).
View of the traverse over to Bull Creek Hills.

Boundary Pine and Grass Pass Return

After we had our fill of the views, we returned the way we came.

Looking back towards Grass Pass. Turn left at the junction to continue back to the highway.

Grass Pass was an unexpected trip, but I am so glad we made the effort. It’s a lovely little hike, ideal for beginners, kids, or anyone who doesn’t want to spend all day to get some views. Be aware of the cows in the summer.

If you found this post useful, please do me a huge favour and click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, follow me on Instagram, or join my FaceBook page Al’s Adventurers.

Alisen

Totals – Tracked on Strava

Date: March 19, 2021
Group:  Four (Alisen, Sonya and two buddies)
Distance:  7.56  km
Elevation:  447 m (1,475′)
Time:  2 hours 42 minutes (includes breaks)

Grass Pass is one valley over from Gunnery Mountain. This trail is also used to access Mount Head, or as a traverse to Bull Creek Hills.
Yes, this trail is pretty much straight up from the trail head, but it’s at a much gentler grade than this suggests. The trip from Grass Pass to Boundary Pine is more or less flat.
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Posted in Adventures, Hiking
18 comments on “Grass Pass to Boundary Pine
  1. That looks to be a lovely hike.

  2. Washe Koda says:

    🙂 thanks for sharing

  3. Looks like a great early or late season option. I’ve only done a couple ofnhikes in this area. Grass Pass seems to be a good name for it too. 😊 Maggie

    • alisendopf says:

      Yes, ideal for shoulder season. You can link it up with either Gunnery on the west, or Bull on the east for a longer day, but two cars would make it easier.

  4. Diana says:

    This looks like a really neat hike!

  5. A beautiful hike! I especially like (by the looks of it) around Boundary Pine.

  6. Very nice to see you enjoying the mountains and generally nature almost on weekly basis! Well done!

    And the lonely Boundary Pine, looks very nice. I guess standing next to it was very impressive.

    • alisendopf says:

      Thanks buddy! I try to get out to the mountains several times a week. I’m in the ‘deep’ mountains (about a 3 hour drive) once a week, and then I try and do a hike close to home (about an hour drive). The driving is what really gets me. I think if I could live closer, I’d be there even more. I’m lucky that my family and friends share my mountain obsession, so we take turns driving and planning the routes.

  7. Looks like a great hike with nice views. Great shots of the Boundary Pine. It looks impressive and strange both at the same time. Thanks for including a link so we can see what it looked like in all its glory.

    • alisendopf says:

      I have to give full thanks to one of my hiking buddies for suggesting this hike. It was fun to read about it after the fact – the original landowner was quite a prolific writer. I’m glad we have some photos of it before it’s decline. I’m hoping it can hold on and revive itself, but only time will tell.

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