The Dogtooth Group is enclosed in the angle between the Rocky Mountain Trench (Columbia River) and the Purcell Trench (Beaver River), and the Spillimacheen River forms the southern boundary. Its westernmost slopes are in Glacier National Park.
The best view of the group is from Golden, where a jagged ridge resembles a dog’s teeth. The group is more noted for alpine meadows and good hiking than for climbing. Moonraker Peak (2840m) is the highest. Most of the high summits were ascended by Topographical Survey crews largely in 1891, 1902, 1906 and 1907, and Topographical Survey crews using photogram metric methods in 1929 and 1930 (see the Iconoclast, Sorcerer and Moloch Groups in the Northern Selkirks, and map 82N/SW Glacier Park, 1974). Few routes have been described on these peaks previously.
The summits in the group are not isolated, but rise from ridges with a typical altitude above their cols of 150 to 300 meters. The rise above the valleys is, of course, much greater but not as much as in many groups.
The group is composed of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, such as slate, quartzite, argillite and limestone, which are thrust-faulted and folded. Some limestone contains fossil archaeocyathids. The rock is generally not good, and contains many thrust faults with rock ages varying from Pre-Cambrian to as young as Cambrian (about one half billion years). A majority of the rocks is Pre-Cambrian (older), stratigraphically below the Hamill Quartzite which is exposed at Glacier (Rogers Pass).
Large thrust faults in the west, along upper Canyon Creek and Quartz Creek, isolate rocks west of the faults which are mostly of the Horsethief Creek Group (Pre-Cambrian). East of the faults the rocks are more varied, with many rocks of Cambrian age.
Maps – 82N/6 Blaeberry, 82N/3 Mount Wheeler, 82N/2 McMurdo, 82N/SW Glacier Park; B. C. Forests brochures – Revelstoke and Golden Forest Districts, and Invermere Forest District
Blaeberry Valley Campground
Drive about 10.5 km (6.6 miles) northwest from Golden on the Trans- Canada Highway. 0.0 Turn right on Moberly Creek road
2.3km 1.4 mi T-junction. Go left (N) on Upper Donald Road
5.0km 3.1mi Stay left. Go straight at first left, turn left after the road bends right. The campground is on the right in a large clearing near the Blaeberry River bridge. Free
Alternately, drive 9.5 km (6 miles) southeast from the Columbia River bridge, turn left off the Trans-Canada Highway, past houses, curves, for 1.6km (1mi), then turn right to the bridge.
Canyon Creek enters the Columbia River south of Nicholson, and has its head near a pass through which is an old trail connecting with Grizzly Creek, a tributary to the Beaver River below the east side of Rogers Pass in the Selkirks. Moonraker Peak is located just southwest of the pass. Quartz Creek, which flows from the north angle of the group, is also connected by a pass with Grizzly Creek.
Canyon Creek Trail.
Drive: From the town of Nicholson, 7 km (4.3 miles) south of Golden on Highway 95, drive west and then northwest parallel to the Columbia River (some switchbacks at first) on gravel road for 8 km (5 miles), passing Cedar Lake on your left. Go up the Canyon Creek Fire Access road (sign, on left), very rough (many people walk this road; 6.5 km).
Trail: From the end of the road, the trail angles down toward the creek and stays on the north side. Eleven kilometres bring one to a broad meadow (camping) in less than a day. In a second day, on an overgrown trail, one can reach Moonraker Basin.
Quartz Creek FSR in the north, leaves the Trans- Canada Highway 1.8 km (1.1 miles) east of Quartz Creek and 15 km (9.3 miles) west of the bridge over the Columbia River northwest of Golden. A trail continues south by Quartz Creek. For the road to Gorman Lake, consult the regional traverse below, “Gorman Lake to Quartz Lake”. See the B. C. Forests brochure also.
Beaver River and Copperstain Trails
A very long trail, along the Beaver River, proceeds upstream (south) below the huge eastern escarpment of the Sir Donald Group to a warden’s cabin (closed to public) northeast of the impressive entrance to Glacier Circle (Dawson Group), and then to the Beaver River-Duncan River divide if the trail is not overgrown.
Drive: When driving west on the Trans-Canada Highway, after crossing the bridge over Beaver River near Rogers Pass, turn left (east) downhill at the trail sign (almost at bridge level; a lookout sign is just beyond) to the trail parking lot.
Trial: The path is among very old and tall spruce and cedar. A trail soon branches east from Beaver River up to Grizzly and Copperstain Creeks, the latter leading to the meadows of Bald Mountain, 16 km (one way), with fabulous views of Mount Sir Donald. The warden’s cabins encountered are closed to the public.
Regional Traverse: Gorman Lake to Quartz Lake
Gorman Lake is located east of the Purcell watershed, at the head of Gorman Creek, west-northwest of Golden. Quartz Lake is the most northwestern of the high lakes in the Dogtooths and does not lie in the valley of Quartz Creek. To orient oneself, the valley of the Columbia River goes northwest to southeast in this area.
Drive: Start at Golden, and drive the Gorman Lake road (Gorman Lake camp). From the Trans-Canada Highway, take the exit to Golden (Route 95). Follow the sign to the Whitetooth Ski area on the north side of town, cross the bridge to the west side of the Columbia River (see B. C. Forests brochure) but head north on the Dogtooth Forest Service Road through the golf course. (Farther along, a road branches right to Lang Creek.)
Trail: Hike the Gorman Lake trail (1.5-2 hours) and camp at the lake.
• Go west, and then southwest up the valley, but then turn northwest over the pass (2390m; 7850 feet) between Un. 2760m (9050 feet) and Un. 2730m (8950 feet) (rough talus; it may be better to follow a line a little east on descent from pass).
Descend to about 2160 meters (7100 feet; sub-alpine scrub) and traverse to the lake at the head of Lang Creek. Camp on beautiful heather. There is a new rock slide (winter or spring of 1999) just before the lake.
• Long day. Go up scree slopes west of the lake and along the southwest slopes of Un. 2730m (8950 feet; talus). There may be a better route on the northeast side of the ridge. Excellent views of Mount Sir Donald. Rough rock walking, but the footing improves (gravel). Continue traversing, but turn northeast at 802-950 (to avoid a small peak) and then descend north to reach camp just below Upper Quartz Lake (2130m; 7000 feet).
• Take the true left bank route (keep high to avoid some slide alder and bush) and then descend to the Ministry of Forests camp at Quartz Lake. Then there is good trail down to Quartz Creek and the trail head just north of the tributary creek, 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the turnoff from the Trans-Canada. See introduction, access.
North Fork Road, Spillimacheen River
Drive: From the town of Parson (on Highway 95, southeast of Golden; zero odometer.
0.0 Turn southwest on the Spillimacheen River Forest Service Road, cross the Columbia River and several channels
17.2km 10.7 mi Near the junction, the road ceases to wind and turns northwest. (Avoid major side roads leading south.
26.6km Stay on the northeast bank of Spillimacheen River. Left goes to bridge over Spillimacheen River leading to McMurdo Creek.
56km 35mi End of the road, below North Fork Station, northeast of Caribou Peak and east of Glacier Circle. Beyond the junction, the road is known locally as the North Fork road (high clearance, four wheel drive near the end).
Regional Traverse: Spillimacheen River to Gorman Lake
Drive: As for the North Fork road. From the junction at 17.2 km (10.7 miles) continue on the northeast bank (North Fork road) for 6.3 km (3.9 miles) more (23.5 km, 14.6 miles from Parson).
Trail leads up northeast for 3 km past an old cabin and continues to the ridge to a small peak with a cone (radio) on top. One may follow the ridges to Gorman Lake (or Quartz Lake and Creek, 6 days) via McLean Creek basin, Canyon Creek and Grizzly Creek, backpacking. Much is along game trails, but details are lacking.