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.
Hiking boots, poles and your regular day pack kit.
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.
Walking east from the Sentinel parking lot, we found an opening in the trees on the north side of the highway.
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.
After about 1.8 km, the trail widens out, and we got a view of Grass Pass up ahead.
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.
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.
Fir Creek Point trail will eventually peter out at the top of the ridge, at a copse of trees.
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.
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.
Boundary Pine and Grass Pass Return
After we had our fill of the views, we returned the way we came.
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.
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)