Belmore Browne to Boundary Peak to Boundary Ridge Traverse

July 2, 2021

This has got to be one of the most fun days I’ve spent in the mountains in a long time – and that’s saying a LOT since I really, really enjoy being in the mountains. This was the perfect storm of a route I’d dreamed up, three great friends who trusted me to lead it (despite never being in the area before), and absolutely gorgeous weather for stunning views. I actually put off writing this trip report because I wasn’t sure I could capture what a fantastic day we had.

The first time I was in the Sibbald area was last spring when I hiked Cox Hill. From the summit, I looked across at a range of mountains I had honestly never seen before. I went home and started doing some research. I put together a traverse that would take in Belmore Browne Peak, Boundary Peak and Boundary Ridge.

Driving towards our mountain range along the Powderface Trail, just off Highway 68.

Gear

Hiking boots, poles and your regular day pack kit. I’d also bring bear spray and make lots of noise. It’s not that popular of an area (we only saw one other person all day), and there is quite a bit of forest walk on either end.

Overview

Stash one vehicle at the Lusk Pass trailhead. Drive to the Belmore Browne trailhead. Follow the logging road to the start of the trail. The trail leads to a creek bed, that you hike up until almost at the start of the gully. Turn right, and start gaining elevation, heading towards the ridge on the right side of Belmore Browne. The ridge leads to the summit. From Belmore Brown, hike to the Bump, then turn right to continue towards Boundary Peak. Hike down from Boundary Peak towards Boundary Ridge, looking for the low point that leads off the ridge. Hike down to the meadow below, looking for the big cairn. This marks the spot to turn right and enter the forest, hooking up with the Boundary Ridge Trail. Follow this trail down to the valley, crossing the creek several times near the end. At the T intersection, turn right onto Lusk Pass Trail. It’s about another kilometer until you reach the trailhead and your stashed vehicle.

Parking and Trail Head

As this is a traverse, we needed two cars. We dropped off one car at the exit point – Lusk Pass Trail – then drove to the Belmore Brown / Tiara Peak trailhead.

From the topo map, it looked like there was a road that lead straight to the start of the hiking trail. Unfortunately, that was an old decommissioned logging road. After driving up and down Powderface Trail for a bit to make sure we hadn’t missed anything, we pulled over on the side of the road. This added about 1.7 km to my estimated total distance, but like troopers, my friends were not worried and off we went.

We parked at a widening of the road on Powderface Trail, across from the trail head.

From the road, we found the flagging that marked the trail head, and walked down the embankment. We started hiking at 7:45 am.

We followed the wide swath of the old logging road.

At the creek crossing, there were logs piled up, but we choose to go downstream a little bit and just hop across the rocks and logs in the stream.

We continued to follow the logging road, until it started to veer left. This is about the 1.7 km mark. We then looked to our right, and found two cairns that guarded the entrance to the trail head.

Sonya pointing out the two cairns.

Main Trail

Once on the true hiking trail, we found a lovely path through a thick forest, which was fairy like in many places. Someone had been through with a chainsaw and hacked back the fallen trees for quite a ways. We were thankful for the clearing that was done.

At about the 2.5 km mark, we came to the (now dry) creek bed. In the spring and fall, this area can be completely filled with snow. In July, it was nice and clear, which made navigating it a lot easier. We crossed back and forth about 100 times πŸ™‚ but the trail stayed pretty consistent throughout and it was easy enough to follow.

This photo is representative of the creed bed. This shows some flagging and a cairn to help people stay on the trail.
Sometimes we were boulder hopping. Make sure you have great conversationalists along. It was right about here that we discussed the merits of body piercings, and which ones were easy to remove/hide for job interviews.

Near the end of the creek but below the start of the gully, I hunted for the exit on the right. I had a false start, but backtracked into the creek bed again. A few hundred meters up, I found the rather large cairn on the right that marks the start of the Belmore Browne route. The cairn is around 4.3 km from the trailhead. If you miss it and go straight, that leads you to the Tiara Peak route, and the down track from Belmore Browne Peak.

Alisen, Nancy and Erin standing around the tall cairn that marks the exit on the right for the Belmore Browne route. You can tell I was pretty happy to find this. Bushwhacking was not on my To Do list.

Once above the creek bed, I angled around the bend to start gaining elevation on the ridge.

Straight ahead is the gully. Directly above is the “Bump” (more on that later). The dark brown scree is your optional descent route from Belmore Browne if you don’t want to do the traverse. Some people go up this gully to get to Tiara Peak. We kept to the right, gaining elevation, and heading towards the ridge above.
Looking back down into the creek bed. The exit point is down and around the corner.

Once we were at the base of the Belmore Browne ridge, the sloggy portion of the climb was before us. However, with fresh legs, a great attitude, and still having the feeling of adventure, this portion slid past fairly quickly.

Looking up at our route. The ridge I want is above, but just out of view at this point. There is a bit of a trail that peters in and out.
Sonya, Nancy and Erin coming up the sloggy area. The impressive Bryant Ridge Peaks are looming behind. That’s a trip for another day…

Once on the wide ridge, I bee-lined it for the fun white rock outcroppings. You can easily avoid these, but why? Honestly, these were the most exciting parts of the trail, and scrambling up the sides of these small features added fun to our day.

The summit of Belmore Browne Peak is above. If you zoom in, the fissure is just visible. The summit is to the left of the fissure.

Above these rocky spines, it was now the prerequisite scree slope to the summit of Belmore Browne Peak.

The summit is very misleading. That’s it right above Sonya. As you’ll see next, there is a giant fissure just to the right of the summit block.

The summit block has a giant fissure down the middle. So cool!!!
Looking down at the view. This is our descent route off Boundary Ridge!

From the fissure, I was a little unsure if there was an actual ‘summit’ or if this was it. When facing the fissure, I went left, to get around the base of the rock. I then scrambled straight up the rock, because that was more fun (it’s possible to keep hiking around the base if you like).

That’s when I spied the bright pink summit box! Woot! Woot! Erin and Nancy had never seen one of these before, and boy, were they in for a treat! πŸ™‚

You just never know what you are going to find in one of these bright pink summit boxes, but it’s always entertaining!

Belmore Browne Summit

Distance to the summit of Belmore Browne is approximately 5.2 km. Elevation gain is about 602 m. Time to summit was 2 hours and 30 minutes, arriving at 10:12 am.

If you don’t want to do the traverse, there are two options for the return route. Descend the way you came. However, I’d recommend going a few hundred meters further to access the brown scree for a quick run down back to the gully.

Belmore Browne Peak to Boundary Peak

From the summit of Belmore Browne Peak, we had a great view of the rest of our traverse. From here, the navigation was simple – follow the ridgeline from one high point to the next.

Straight ahead is the unnamed Bump that is the cross-roads. On the left is the route to Tiara Peak, and the right is Boundary Peak. The brown scree in the middle is the ideal descent route off Belmore Browne if you don’t want to do the traverse.
Looking back at the summit of Belmore Browne. This is the ideal descent route on perfectly chipped scree.
Looking down the scree slope that leads to the gully. If you look closely, you can see the trail just to the left of the drainage. This will lead back to the creek bed.

The hike to the unnamed Bump was quick and easy.

Alisen on top of the unnamed Bump, extremely happy with today’s route πŸ™‚ This is looking west onto the backsides of some VERY familiar mountains like Porcupine Ridge!
From the Bump, heading left leads to the Tiara Peak scramble. The far tower is the destination.
From the Bump, we turned right and headed for Boundary Peak.

From the Bump, it’s a fairly steep descent down to the pass below Boundary Peak. Then it’s a long slog up a grey scree slope to the top of Boundary. The only good thing about this section is there is a pretty good trail through the scree, which makes the ascent bearable.

Descending down from the Bump, heading towards Boundary Peak. The low point of the pass is about the same elevation as the summit of Belmore Browne Peak.
Looking back up at the Bump. It’s a much more impressive sight from this view.
Almost at the top of Boundary Peak. This is your typical Rockies scree pile. There is a trail in here somewhere, I promise.
From the summit of Boundary Peak, looking back at our route. Straight back is the Bump. On the left is Belmore Browne, and on the right is the route to Tiara Peak.

Boundary Peak Summit

Distance to the summit of Boundary Peak was about 6.8 km. Elevation difference from the trail head to the summit was 670 m, but total elevation gain to this point is much higher due to the loss and regain from the Bump, and from the Bump to Boundary Peak. Time to Boundary Peak was 3 hours and 30 minutes, arriving at 11:15 am.

The view looking west is Porcupine Ridge, with the ski runs of Nakiska across the valley.
The view looking east. Down below is Boundary Ridge. From the low point on the Ridge, we descended straight down to the east, to the middle green hump below. Powderface Trail road cuts through the forest in the valley below. That is where our second car is stashed.

Boundary Peak to Boundary Ridge

Most people summit Boundary Peak via Boundary Ridge, and then return the way they came. We were now heading towards Boundary Ridge, and using this route as the exit to our traverse.

From the summit of Boundary Peak, we headed east towards the long ridge below.

Heading down the scree slope to Boundary Ridge. I am aiming for the low point, just to the left of the point in the middle.
Looking back up at the Summit of Boundary Peak.
Once off the steep part of Boundary Peak, it’s a lovely trek across the ridge.
This is a great view of the Princess Traverse (otherwise known as the Princess B!tch Slap) that starts at Mount Baldy, to Midnight Peak, to Midday Peak, to Boundary Peak, to Tiara Peak.
This is the descent point off Boundary Ridge (over the hump to the right), which is prior to the actual summit of Boundary Ridge.

Distance to the exit point of Boundary Ridge is approximately 8.2 km. The elevation loss from Boundary Peak is 250 m. Time to this point is 4 hours and 15 minutes, arriving at noon.

Boundary Ridge to Lusk Pass Trail Head (end of traverse)

From the exit point on Boundary Ridge, we could see our route to the east along an open meadow. At the far end, after gaining a wee bit of elevation, we came to a large outcrop with a very impressive and artistic cairn.

From there, we turned right (south) and made our way downhill into the forest. Finding the forest trail was not obvious. We had to spread out and hunt around, because believe me, this was a LONG ways to bushwhack and I was not having that.

From the low point on Boundary Ridge, this is the view down to the meadow below.
Looking across the valley is Cox Hill, which started this whole adventure six months earlier!
From Boundary Ridge, it’s a fairly steep descent down to the meadow below. Here, we kept close together so if anyone kicked a rock, it wouldn’t hit anyone below in the head.

There was a short band of forest between the rock ridge and the meadow. We were meant to go right, but couldn’t immediately find the trail so just barged right through the middle, which worked just fine.

From the edge of the meadow, looking back up to Boundary Ridge. If you look really, really close, you can see the bit of orange flagging that marks where you are supposed to enter the trail. We popped out to climber’s right of that.
Our final view of Belmore Browne Peak was directly up to the fissure. It felt like forever ago that we looking down onto this ridge.

We hiked down the middle of the meadow. There was no trail in the low grass, but I kept an eye on the high point across from us and made straight for that.

Does anyone know what these big furrows are from? There was a series of them all across the top of this meadow. Maybe it was something to do with logging, but you’d think the trees would have been replanted / grown back by now as this area wasn’t being actively logged (unlike the areas to the south).

At the far end of the meadow was a rock outcrop, with a large and very artistic cairn on top. This was our cue to change directions, and head right, or south, to enter the forest. From here on out, it was one long boring forest slog back to the Lusk Pass trail head.

The rock outcrop at the end of the meadow. Bravo! to whoever made this beautiful cairn. I applaud your artistic talents!
The other side of the rock outcrop is just as interesting. Boundary Ridge looms above. Our descent path off the Ridge is just to climber’s right of the patch of trees.

From the cairn, we headed south to pick up the forest trail. This was not as easy as it could have been. We spread out, and Nancy was the lucky winner in our game of “Spot the Tiny Bit of Flagging!”

At this point, things were getting a bit punchy and Sonya was deciding who to vote off the island. Nancy had just secured her spot by finding the flagging. I was the shoe-in leader and route finder (no mutiny yet). Erin and Sonya… only time would tell πŸ™‚

Can you spot the little bit of flagging? I was never so thankful for a little clue. This forest was super thick and tight. We needed to find the trail.
It felt like hours as we descended through the forest to the valley below. Despite this being a well-used trail, the trees and bushes were super tight and close. As we were the first (and only!) ones through, the spider webs were thick. I ‘broke trail’ for as long as I could, then relinquished web duty. Uck! On a positive note, I taught my fellow hikers how to hold their poles so the bushes didn’t snag them every two feet.

At about the 11 km mark, we broke out of the trees and into a wide valley. While it was nice to get some fresh air, we were now in a boggy area. We tramped through the wetlands, hopping from one tuft of high ground to the next.

Sonya hopping from one bit of high ground to the next.

Once past this boggy area, we came to the creek crossing at about the 12 km mark.

Crossing the creek for the first time. The boggy area is behind us.

From the creek crossing, we took a small detour and visited the horse camp. I have to say, this was set up quite nicely!

I love how the fire pit is set up to direct the heat towards the two log benches.

From the camp, we backtracked to the creek, and followed it for another km. We crossed and re-crossed this creek several times, getting our feet wet near the end. To be honest, we weren’t trying too hard to stay dry as the end was near. Plus, we were racing against a thunderstorm that was brewing above us.

One of the many creek crossings downstream of the horse camp. My boots were wet by this point. If you are hiking in towards Boundary Ridge, perhaps river shoes are a good idea, especially during the spring run off or after a rain.

The last bit of navigation was turning right at the T intersection. Nancy (blue pack) is coming in from the Boundary Ridge trail, and Sonya (red pack) is standing on the Lusk Pass Trail that leads to the trail head.

If you are hiking in towards Boundary Ridge, look for the bit of flagging. The Lusk Pass Trail is way bigger than the Boundary Ridge trail, and I can see it being easily missed.

This is the T intersection. Nancy (blue pack) is on the Boundary Ridge trail. We turned right onto the main Lusk Pass Trail where Sonya (red pack) is standing.

From the T intersection onto Lusk Pass trail, it was about one more kilometer to the trail head and our second car.

We had to cross that stream one more time, but Alberta Parks took pity and installed a bridge.
Ta da!!! We completed the traverse and made it to our stashed car at the Lusk Pass trail head.

We successfully completed the Belmore Browne-Boundary traverse!!! We arrived here at 1:50 pm, just in time to get into our cars and avoid the massive rain storm. We drove past a gravel cyclist who was inching along, the driving rain no doubt very painful. As cyclists, we all wanted to stop and help him, but had no place to put his bike.

What a day! It was long, and it was hot, but it was also super fun to explore a completely new area. Sometimes you just have to get out your maps, and start making your own routes.

A big thank you goes to Sonya, Erin and Nancy for joining me. I had been planning this for months, but I needed the right crew to help make it a reality. Thanks also for the many photographs that you took and that I used liberally throughout the post.

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 Gaia, displayed on Strava

Date: July 2, 2021
Group: Four (Alisen, Sonya, Erin and Nancy)
Distance:  13.8  km
Elevation:  765 m (2,525β€²)
Time:  6 hours 5 minutes (includes lunch & breaks)

This is the Belmore Browne to Boundary Peak to Boundary Ridge traverse. It is a shorter approach if you start from the Belmore Browne side, saving the long forest slog for a quick run back to the vehicle.
The Belmore Browne peak is mislabeled on this map. It is instead the outlier directly to the east.
Most of the elevation is gained hiking up to Belmore Browne. We had some undulations, but it was all doable with a great trail between the peaks. The Belmore Browne trail starts at a higher elevation than Lusk Pass, which is always nice on a long day.
Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Scrambling
21 comments on “Belmore Browne to Boundary Peak to Boundary Ridge Traverse
  1. Diana says:

    Breaking trail through spider webs is never fun. The rest of the hike sounds great, though. I love the feeling of walking along a ridge line and scrambling my way to the top. The fissure looked like a lot of fun as well!

    • alisendopf says:

      Hey Diana,
      I’ve just about had it up to here with spider webs. They seem to be worse than normal, but I’m also usually the first one on a trail.

      I’m enjoying your trek across the US. Enjoy your travels.
      Alisen

      • Diana says:

        I walked out my front door and into a spider web last week so I would agree with your assessment of them being worse than normal this year

      • alisendopf says:

        Where are you that you have webs outside your door???

        I really do appreciate spiders and how they clean up all the bugs. I never kill spiders in my home because if they are there, it means they are finding something to eat. But after having webs laced across my face a dozen times – eeewww!!!! Too much! πŸ˜‚

      • Diana says:

        I’m in the Denver area (not on the outskirts, fairly central) where there should not be so many spiders

      • alisendopf says:

        Ah. Yes, I agree. That’s a lot of spiders for that area. Must be a bloom. Hopefully they are taking care of any mosquitoes you may have.

  2. Wow, what a great hike!

  3. Looks like great adventurous hike. You are great hikers. Might be a bit for me. LOL

  4. I have never seen (or heard) of these bright pink summit boxes before. What a great idea to mark the official summit. And how fun to open it up and discover what’s inside. The video gave me a good laugh. This looks like a beautiful hike. Not sure how I feel about those creek crossings though! Thanks for sharing. Linda

    • alisendopf says:

      The pink boxes are just one guy who is on a bit of a mission. I believe it’s Ephraim Roberts??? It’s a great legacy for him. I think he only does summits in Kananaskis Country. There’s another guy named Cris T who puts black tube registers on summits in the national parks. It’s very much appreciated.

  5. Thanks for another great adventure! Beautiful Alisen❣️❣️

  6. Yet another adventurous hike Alisen.

  7. Priti says:

    I guess it was an excellent adventure. Thank you for sharing β˜ΊοΈπŸ˜ŠπŸŒ·πŸ’ž

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