If you are in the East Kootenay’s, and looking for a challenging day hike, with the rewards of a spectacular view, the Three Sister’s Peak is an excellent choice. It is the most prominent and inspiring peak that can be seen from Fernie. Even if the summit isn’t the end goal, there is so much variety in the terrain that it is an interesting walk no matter how far you go.
From the trailhead you begin by wandering through dense rainforest slung with bright green moss. After a few mins the trail steepens significantly and you pass by Jumping Waters; a long cascading waterfall, and Watergate; a spout of water pouring straight out of the mountain. In parts the trail is steep and there are wooden ladders to climb to get up steeper or more difficult terrain. After about 30mins you come across Bisaro Cave. It is a large gaping cavern in the side of the mountain and is worth a scamper along the edge for a better look inside.
Above Bisaro cave the trail switch-backs around and directly above the cave entrance and gives great views. There is an option to do a quick detour to go look at the canyon if you wish. Gradually you leave the forest, and the trail follows fairly easy terrain for a few kilometres, with the limestone wall of Mt Bisaro to your right and the Three Sisters Ridge up ahead. After a climb, you will find yourself in 3 Sisters Pass at 2280m. The Three Sisters summit trail heads off to the left, and Heikos Trail (Mountain Lakes Trail) goes straight ahead. If you went right you could wander up Mt Bisaro ridge. Though the summit looks relatively close, this section is the most difficult of the hike and it takes another couple of hours to reach the summit. It is steep, open shale. The trail skirts underneath this peak, and then roughly follows below the ridge, with spectacular views. The summit at 2760m is approx 9km from the parking lot, and well worth the effort 🙂 Amongst our hiking party were 3 teenage boys, one of them an avid drone photographer! Our summit pic!! And then the steep descent. It is mildly exposed right near the top, and is intimidating for some. Back to Three Sisters pass, and it is still a long walk back to the parking lot!!
THINGS TO KNOW:
DISTANCE: 9km one way, 18km return (or an extra 3km one way, 6km return if you have to hike from Hartley Lake Road)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1360m
GETTING THERE: 5.1km NE of Fernie (from bridge on Hwy 3) turn left onto Dicken Road. Travel 500m and turn right onto Hartley Lake Rd (it might not be signposted). This road is narrow and steep in places and may require 4×4. Travel 10.6 km making sure to stay on the main road. At the 7km road marker turn left where there is a clearing. If you dont have 4×4 you will need to park here and walk an extra 3km. It takes an extra 30-40mins. If you do have 4×4 (you need it to continue) you can navigate the large mud/water holes, and close bushes/trees and drive those 3km to the actual trailhead.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- This is Grizzly bear country. Make lots of noise. Carry bearspray.
- Take care on the wooden ladders. They become slippery when wet.
- There are some really awesome places to camp in the meadows. I would like to do this with the kids sometime.
- I would also love to run Heikos / Mountain Lakes trail. One for my bucket List!!
- I hiked with adults, but think that my 10 & 12 year old would have been capable enough to come with me.
- This has all the ingredients for an excellent hike, with few people – we were the only party summiting. Big thumbs up from me 🙂