If you want a big workout in a short amount of time plus high impact mountain scenery, plan to hike the Hermit Trail in Glacier National Park, British Columbia.
Steep hikes are what Glacier National Park BC is famous for – and Hermit Trail is the steepest of them all. But it differs from other hikes in the park in that you end in a rocky alpine bowl, and not on a ridge.
Hermit Trail Trip Report
The trail gains 819 metres (2,687 feet) in just 3.2 kilometres. It starts off gently enough, beginning at an elevation of 1,293 metres. But after the first 200 metres the grade steepens and remains that way all the way up on long switchbacks up through the sub-alpine forest. The forest is very beautiful with monster big trees, attesting to the amount of precipitation the area receives.
After about 45 minutes of aerobic hiking you break out of the trees, around the 1,900 metre elevation mark. While bird life was in short supply on our hike through the trees, reportedly you might see fox sparrows, hermit thrush and white-winged crossbills.
Once through the trees you reach a stream where you could refill your water if you’ve gone through it already. In August wildflowers appear here; their numbers steadily increase as you continue up the trail, as do the views.
Beautiful trail building on the Hermit Trail
One section of trail reminded me of Lake O’Hara hiking. Large stones have been perfectly laid just as they are on the trail to Lake Oesa. It made me wonder if there was a modern day Lawrence Grassi trailbuilder with many of the stones “thoughtfully and carefully placed in the landscape.”
There is one short steep, scrambling section that is made easier with a rope for assistance. From there it’s a short distance to reach the top – a rocky, austere looking area with a few marmots around – making me jump with their unexpected ear-piercing whistles.
The trail ends at Hermit Meadows. From there you can explore the peaks that make up the Hermit Range. They include Mount Tupper, Hermit Mountain, Mount Rogers, and Swiss Peak. If that’s not your thing, go find a rock with a view and enjoy your lunch. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot.
We did the 6.4 kilometre round-trip hike in just over three hours, but I’d allow four to be on the safe side.
Backcountry camping in Glacier National Park BC
The Hermit Trail is one of three trails in Glacier National Park that boasts a backcountry campsite. The expansive, though austere looking campsite – with its location in a world of rock – boasts tent pads, bear lockers and a toilet. Don’t forget your fuel and stove as no open fires are permitted.
If you plan to camp, obtain both a Park Pass and a Wilderness Pass. They are both available at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre or in Revelstoke at Park Headquarters. The backcountry fee is $9.80 per person in 2019.
Should you want to camp close to the trailhead in Glacier National Park, you have the choice of three frontcountry campgrounds, all of which are a maximum of 6 kilometres west of the summit of Roger’s Pass. They include Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald. If you’re planning to do more hikes in Glacier National Park, Illecillewaet Campground would be a great choice, as that’s where most of the hikes leave from.
Directions to the trailhead for the Hermit Trail
Look for the trailhead 1.5 kilometres east of the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre on the Trans-Canada Highway. Supposedly there is no left-hand turning lane if you are driving east. But there’s a lot of road construction around the pass in the summer of 2019. We were able to safely turn left into the parking lot. Perhaps they are adding a left hand turn lane??? If not you’ll have to continue east on the Trans-Canada Highway until you find a safe spot to make a U-turn.
From Revelstoke it’s 68 kilometres to Roger’s Pass and then another 1.5 kilometres east to the trailhead. If you’re coming from Golden drive 79.5 kilometres west to reach the trailhead. It’s signed on the highway.
Things to near Glacier National Park BC
Mount Revelstoke National Park is immediately west of Glacier. It too offers excellent hiking. The elevation gain isn’t quite so dramatic. I’d recommend the Eva Lake hike especially in August for the wildflowers.
Revelstoke is also close by. If you’re looking for more adventure try a half day rafting experience on the Illecillewaet River with Apex Rafting or SUP on Lake Revelstoke.
You can rent an inflatable SUP in town from Fine Line Stand Up Paddleboarding. For something completely different go for a walk with the wolves just outside of Golden.
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