Welcome to the West Kootenay’s latest and greatest hike! The Lost Mountain trail offers highway access and a steady workout. Most of this hike is done in the forest, but the final ridge and summit are worth the effort!
Trailhead: Highway 3 (Crowsnest), Kootenay Pass
Distance, Round Trip: 10.6km
The Lost Mountain trail was restored in 2017 through a partnership between the Salmo Valley Trails Society and the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. The first 2km are fresh trail, rerouted to keep the trailhead away from the highway chain-up area. The route then picks up sections of the old trail, merging and diverging in a series of new switchbacks.
The new trailhead is located in a massive pullout just after the avalanche gates of Kootenay Pass (coming from the Salmo side).
There is no kiosk at the trailhead yet, but the trail is pretty obvious, angling up from the highway. Cross with care!
Up through the forest
The trail starts off climbing steadily and evenly and uneventfully through the forest. The sounds of the highway fade, but the forest continues. We kicked up plenty of dirt and startled plenty of grouse, but the scenery didn’t start to get interesting until about 2.3km when we came to the scenic mid-point:
The trail leads to a rock outcropping and we could suddenly look down towards the highway and Kootenay Pass. Looking ahead, the summit of Lost Mountain was visible in the far distance:
Leaving the rest point, the trail continues onwards and upwards through the forest. The trees thin very slowly, until suddenly you’re hiking high on a ridge – at last! Scenery!
Above the trees
As the trees fade away, so does the trail disappear into a line of cairns and reflective blazes. But at this point, the route ahead is easy to see:
Aim for the ridge, approaching the summit from the left.
We reached the summit within 3 hours. Although it was a sunny day, cool wind was blowing at high elevation. The view towards Kootenay Pass was relatively clear, but wildfire smoke was hazing the other directions.
We were flying on the hike down – only 2 hours! Lost Mountain has similar distance and elevation to the Mount Loki trail, but I kept marvelling at how much easier it is. The trail crew did an excellent job at managing the grade!