Mt. Brennan Fall Hike, Goat Range

on Sep 06, 2010

At lower elevations it is hard to imagine summer is coming to a close. Trek into the alpine and experience the flowers turned to berries and trails being covered with dusting of snow and ice. Learn more about a great late season walk that will lead you into the early signs of winter!

Huckleberries en route to Lyle Lakes

This year the berries at lower elevations seem less developed this seasons, hike into the 5000-5600 ft range on a southerly facing trail and you may be surprised at how luscious the berries are in.  There are a number of shrubs that are still providing food for the bears including one we couldn’t keep our paws off, Black Huckleberry also known as Vaccinium membranaceum.  This shrub can be tall enough, 1.5 m, to hide a feeding animal and still summer green or have red fall leaves. 

Kids enjoy adventures of the berry sort and its great for them to learn how bears harvest their winter meal. Ensure that you check what they pop into their belly before hand as many berries, like the single bead of Queen’s Cup can look delicious but indeed are not at all tasty and some may be inedible or even toxic.

While in the bushes along these trails please be bear aware! Both black and grizzly bears feed on wild berries and in fact are reliant on this as food source to help them prepare for hibernation.  Before beginning your hike, look for bear signs (scat, diggings, marks on trees) and ensure to make your presence know with a loud song or bear call.  If you notice a bear enjoying the berries, back away slowly and come back another time so that the bear can feed.

Higher elevation trails like Drinnon Pass, Gimli Peak, Mt. Brennan, and Whitewater Pass and are great exercise and provide great views and edible berry fall treats.  To learn about ecological links between flora, fauna and terrain, take an interpretive walk or guided alpine hike near Nelson, Kaslo and New Denver, B.C.

Mt. Brennan, Goat Range

You may have seen this gentle giant from the top of Idaho Peak, an easy high elevation hike.  Mt. Brennan is one of the taller peaks of the Goat Range and provides incredible views into both the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains.  At 9500 feet this peak has a significant year round glacier which provides fun early season skiing.

Access to the Mt. Brennan trailhead is easy, though don’t be fooled by directions from the Don’t Waste Your Time in the West Kootenay Guidebook.  Ensure you turn right directly out to the former mining town site of Retallack and follow the most beaten down road that contours towards Lyle Creek, approximately 5km of rough road. Please respect the private property found along the way. 

The trail to Lyle Creek Basin is steep but well worth the ascent, taking from 1.5 to 2 hours for strong hikers.  Look for old mining evidence and watch carefully for wildlife as the trail crosses many lush berries and bear food.  As you crest into the upper cirque, you can begin to appreciate the sub alpine views, multiple lakes and rock terrain above you.

Follow the trail that leads up the left side of the creek and gorge and enjoy your slow ascent that wanders by old mine shafts, onto a gentle rock ridge and finally follow tarns or the snowfield that leads to the summit.  Strong hikers can summit in two to three hours from the lake.  Watch the weather carefully at this time of year and ensure you can route find your way back in case of whiteout. 

Contact us for more detailed trail or access information on the route or visit our favorite trails for tips for hikes for late season or   Please post any comments of flowers you see or send us photos that we could post.

Enjoy the trails and please respect the plants that are the base of so many important ecological relationships…

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