Jumbo Pass

Rewarding, moderately strenuous backpack or long hike that is 10+ miles round trip and 2,300-2,500+ feet gain ,with side trip options. Grand panoramic mountain scenery and glacier-clad peaks in British Columbia’s northern Purcell Range. Scenic tarns, lakes, and subalpine forests adorn the area. Enjoy this premier trail for abundant colorful wildflowers in summer, as well as some of the best displays of glorious golden larches in the fall.

Getting There

Directions to west trailhead, via Kaslo, BC on Glacier Creek forest road:  Drive north toward highway 31N from the junction with highway 31A. At 21.4 miles (3.7 miles past Lardeau), turn right (east) onto Argenta Road. At 22.3 miles (.8 mile from highway), cross Duncan River Bridge where pavement ends. At 22.8 miles, reach a junction, proceed straight,  and continue along the SE shore of Duncan Lake. Proceed straight reaching a Y at 28.8 miles, where you turn right and ascend Duncan-Glacier Creek FS road. At 35.4 miles, pass a spur road on the left and proceed straight toward Monica Meadows/Jumbo Pass. At 43.7 miles, reach a signed junction (KM 34) for Monica Meadows and Jumbo Pass, turning right here to Jumbo Pass trailhead.  Drive .3 mile, bear right at the fork, and continue 1.5 miles to the trailhead (5,200 feet).  Expect rough road from the junction to the trailhead, with waterbars, potholes, and ruts. If unable to reach trailhead, park along side of the road beyond the junction, as close to trailhead as drivable. High clearance AWD/4WD  recommended for Glacier Creek FS road to trailhead in most years. Glacier Creek FS road is narrow, with steep drop offs in some sections, and vehicles are not  recommended for travel during wet, very muddy conditions.

Directions to east trailhead, via Radium/Invermere, BC on Toby and Jumbo Creek roads (approx 2 hours): From Radium, drive highway 93/95 south to Invermere (exit west from highway). From Invermere, turn right (north) at on Panorama Ski Resort/Wilmer road. At 1.1 mile, turn left (west) on Panorama Drive (aka Toby Creek Road). At 11.8 miles, continue past Panorama Ski Resort. At 20.1 miles, take the right fork (yellow gate) before the 14 km sign. At 23.4 miles, take right the fork (north) at Jumbo Creek FS road (near 19 KM sign), turning right uphill. The road steeply switchbacks and gets rougher. A sturdy car is good here in dry conditions, but a high  clearance vehicle is better. Note km signs now start at 0.  Take the next two left forks. At 27.1 miles, turn left at Jumbo Pass sign (past 5 km sign) and cross Jumbo Creek bridge to the south. At 32.8 km, park beside a narrow road at the signed trailhead (5,500 feet); there is a wide trail junction on the left (south) between 15 and 16 KM signs. 

Recommended guidebooks: Don’t Waste Your Time in the West Kootenays (Copeland). Mountain Footsteps: Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern British Columbia, 4th ed. (Strong). Hikes Around the Columbia Valley (Mclellan & Strauss).  Hikes around Invermere and the Columbia River Valley (Cameron and Gunn) includes Bastille Mountain scramble details, and 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest (Landers).

Topo map (1:50,000):  Duncan Lake 82K/7, Toby Creek 82K/B

On the trail

West Kootenay - Glacier Creek access:  The trail begins at 5,200 feet, gaining 2,300 feet in 2.4 miles as it switchbacks (longer then shorter) steeply uphill through forest, through profuse blueberry bushes (6,700 feet), then eases as it enters very scenic subalpine zone and nears pass.  Catch a glimpse to the southwest of the Horseshoe Glacier during your ascent near the pass.  At 7,200 feet, larch trees begin to accent the subalpine meadows.  From the pass (7,500 feet), turn left along scenic ridge slightly  uphill about .2 mile to the Jumbo hut.  Camp near hut, with nearby alpine tarn just below for water and views of towering 10,000 to 11,000 foot glacier-clad peaks including Glacier Dome, Lieutenants, Karnak, and Jumbo. 

East Kootenay - Toby/Jumbo Creek access:  Trail begins at 5,400 feet, gaining 2,500 feet in 4.6 miles to the pass.  The inviting trail starts in dense, cool, moist forest and quickly steepens, with footsteps cushioned over mostly good trail with short log trail and boulder sections. At 1.2 miles, the trail takes a sharp right and crosses a creek. Be alert for square orange markers on trees or flagging to indicate the sharp right turn and aiding periodically in route direction. Pass a rockslide below Bastille Mountain's gray cliffs. After another small creek crossing, the trail begins a steep climb into meadows. At 2.7 miles (7,400 feet), see a scenic alpine tarn. Continue to climb to the ridge at 7,545 feet. Small ponds enhance the view and reflect Horseshoe Glacier. At 3.4 miles, hike along the wide ridge to the right (northwest) to the pass.  Descend a short distance and intersect with the trail coming from West Kootenay - Glacier Creek trail.  Head northwest along the main trail on the ridge. At 4.6 miles, reach Jumbo Pass cabin (7,690 feet).  An overnight stay may reveal morning alpenglow on Horseshoe Glacier, and sunset light turning peaks aglow.

Options to explore beyond pass:  Wander open terrain to views of more tarns and alpine valleys, continue east over the pass on Jumbo Pass trail toward Invermere, or scramble one of four summits of gray slopes of ruggedly sculpted Bastille Mountain (8,555 feet) for more mountain views above the SE side of the pass. Use your judgement when to turn back, as the ridge eventually becomes very technical. A .5 miles, a boot-beaten side trip easily ascends the ridge north of the hut (north of outhouse) to the first bump (8,100 feet), where you'll see or hear waterfalls cascading off Horseshoe Glacier and see Glacier Dome north and Lieutenants northeast. Continue, with gain and loss on ridge, scrambling over the next couple of bumps for exercise without scenery improvement. Experienced scramblers can continue north along the ridgecrest for 1.9 miles before it becomes ruggedly narrow.

Jumbo Pass Cabin (hut):  On an alpine ridge with spectacular view. Sleeps 6-8 persons in double bunks and loft floor.  Includes mattresses, cookware, propane stove, and lantern. Bring propane canisters.  No summer firewood provided.  Popular hut often has a summer waiting list. Book reservations and prepay nightly fee online with Columbia Valley Hut Society at cvhsinfo.org. Maximum 4 night stay. 

Leave no trace backcountry practices are a must in this area of sensitive, easily damaged fragile meadows and subalpine forests. Day hiking and minimal to no overnight camping is recommended to minimize impact. The area is popular during peak summer wildflower blooms (approx mid-July through early-August) and during early autumn's spectacular subalpine larch gold (approx late September to early October).  

Bear safe travel and camping practices are a must.

Chicken wire vehicle wraps (secured with sticks and stones) are recommended for overnight parking at the trailhead, to porcupine-proof  to avoid chewing damage on brake lines, hoses, wiring, undercoating, or tires. See online chicken wire wrap tips on West Kootenay Hiking or other websites.

Nearby front country camping

  • Access to western trailhead - at Glacier Creek campground along Duncan Lake's SE shore, just  past left fork 8.5 miles following Duncan Creek bridge crossing. 
  • More camp options:  Two provincial parks (Davis Creek and Lost Ledge) along NW shore of Kootenay Lake. 
  • Access to east trailhead:  Redstreak Campground (Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay NP).

Contact for info and helpful forest road map, including rec sites and trails, is available at Invermere/Rocky Mountain forest office for east access, or Nelson forest office for west access. 

 See more trail details and photo links at:

Kootenay NP/Radium Hot Springs visitor centre - excellent resource for East Kootenay and Kootenay NP trail recommendations, guidebooks, etc.  Guidebooks also available at Invermere bookstores. 

  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Day Hiking
  • Seasons: June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Length: 10.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft
  • 8,100 ft
  • Land Manager: British Columbia Recreation
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 6
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
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