This good trail up the spectacular Fry Creek Canyon is very popular with West Kootenay residents during the spring. It is one of the few low level trails that exhibit wonderful wildflowers and possible sightings of deer, elk and mountain goats.
Location: NE side of Kootenay Lake in Purcell Wilderness Conservancy
Difficulty: Easy A1
Elevation gain: 152 (500) to 305m (1000′)
Key elevations: TH 567m (1860’)
Distance: 3.2 to 19km (2-11.8mi)
Time: 2-4 hours one-way
Season: April to November – best with spring freshet
Map: 82K/2 Lardeau
From Kaslo: Zero odometer at junctions of Hwys 31A and 31N just west of and uphill from downtown.
0.0 Start north on Hwy 31N toward Lardeau and Duncan Lake.
28.4km Village of Lardeau.
34.5km Turn right onto Argenta Road. Starting east on Argenta Road Zero odometer.
36km Cross Duncan River Bridge. Pavement ends.
36.8km Junction. Right follow the Kootenay Lake shore curving south toward Argenta, Johnson’s Landing and Fry Creek Canyon. (left goes north up the Duncan River).
South to Fry Creek. Zero odometer
0.0 Start right to Argenta, Johnson’s Landing and Fry Creek Canyon
5.4km Right goes south to Fry Creek Canyon. Left goes north to Argenta and the Earl Grey Pass TH.
9.7km Stay right on pavement
16km Bear left at the sign. Johnson’s Landing. Kootenay Joe Ridge road goes to Left. Very rough 4WD low range.
17km Fry Creek Canyon Trailhead. 567m (1860’).
Trail: The good trail heads south and crosses a footbridge. After a few minutes, a fork goes straight for Fry Creek (right goes down 23m (75′) to a beach on Kootenay Lake). At 1.4kms, reach the bridge over Fry Creek with its great boulders and thundering rapids. Continue over the bridge to go to a very small community called Birchdale some 2kms further along. The wire hanging on the trees along the trail used to connect Birchdale and Johnson’s Landing by telephone.
The TH has been changed to skirt above the private logging and is well marked as it turns left up the canyon. The canyon soon narrows and the walls steepen. Easy at first, the road disintegrates due to washouts, blow downs and mud and rock slides. The trail follows the creek for several kilometres – go as far as you wish to go. It is certainly worthwhile continuing for 4.8km (3mi) to see the trail blasted out of the side walls and the many coloured creek boulders. At 5km, a large slide path is crossed – look for mountain goats so be quiet and move slowly. Just past the slide and a gravel bar is the sandy beach, an old picnic table and a sometimes campsite. The trail continues for another 4-5 kms to the confluence of Fry and Carney creeks at 845m (2800′). This trail deviates from the creek as it ascends but is still interesting with good creek formations, steep granite walls and fish.
Past the Carney Creek junction, the road, abandoned long ago, follows Carney Creek north, ascends steeply NW out of the canyon, curves SW, crosses Kootenay Joe Pass and descends to Kootenay Lake just north of Johnson’s Landing.
Kootenay Joe Ridge & Fry Creek Circle
Park a vehicle at the Fry Creek trailhead and used another to get up 3½ km on the very rough Kootenay Joe road, 4WD LR. It took us about 2½ hours to go from about 4,000 feet in elevation to the pass at about 6,200 feet with the 30 to 45 pound packs we were carrying. The afternoon was spent exploring the whole ridge and viewing the snow covered mountains around us.
Day 2 saw us breaking camp and leaving by 7:30 am. A long, but pleasant hike took us down to Carney Creek. From here the trail is overgrown with a lot of fallen trees to bushwhack around or crawl over or under. Reaching the sandy beach on Fry Creek just before the rock avalanche area was the morning goal and our great joy when we made it. Alternatives to this morning adventure, such as watching golf on T.V. or having a second cup of coffee on our deck did cross a few minds. A few almost refused to get up when it was time to proceed, but realized a helicopter couldn’t land in this area. We were all back at the Fry Creek trailhead by about 4:30.
Refreshments and supper at the Woodbury Restaurant perked us up and with the grunting, sweating, and muttering, long forgotten, we congratulated ourselves for having accomplished such a grand adventure into the mountains.
Organizer Vicki Hart and hike recorder Ray Neumar.