In Norse mythology, Loki is a deceptive trickster, causing trouble and strife among the realms of the gods. And Mount Loki is no different. With false summits, an intimidating profile, and a fierce ascent, Mount Loki challenges hikers to make it to the summit. The reward is top-of-the-world views of the Purcell Mountains and distant Kootenay Lake.

SUMMARY

Trailhead: Portman Creek FSR

Distance, Round Trip: 11.6km

Elevation: +1137m

Difficulty: D2

Trailhead

The trailhead is accessed 9.2km up Portman Creek FSR on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake. The access road is in great condition and drivable with 2WD low clearance.

We were surprised to see a large queue of vehicles already parked – Loki is a popular spot on an early Sunday morning!

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Trailhead with trail leading up into the forest

Up to Portman’s Notch

The first section of the trail climbs through an old cutblock and into the higher forest.

Sections are steep, but it’s mostly a gentle climb up towards the ridge line. The forest breaks away to meadows of fireweed with plenty of huckleberry bushes.

Portman’s Notch is the low point in the massive ridge line defending Loki. As the trail approaches the notch, it steepens into a series of switchbacks with loose dirt.

Ridgeline to Loki’s Base

After about one hour of hiking, you ascend to the top of the Portman’s Notch and Mount Loki comes into view, overpowering the horizon:

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Mt Loki as seen from Portman’s Notch

As you hike the ridge line, the trail evens out to easy, level walking. On either side of the ridge, the Purcell Mountains reach into the sky. Looking back, Kootenay Lake can be seen far below, although for us it was shrouded in a heavy layer of wildfire smoke.

Loki is extremely intimidating when viewed from a distance. It pierces the sky, as sharp and serrated as a shark’s tooth. But don’t let that stop you – as you near the base, Loki unfolds to reveal its false summit and the slopes begin to angle into an approachable ascent.

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Approaching Mount Loki

Hiking and Scrambling Up

The trail continues up the sides of Loki, marked with cairns and paths stomped into the crumbling talus. It can be hard to follow, but stay to the right side of the ridges where the exposure is minimal and you’ll keep picking up the trail.

We were anticipating the false summit which we saw earlier on the ridge line, but Loki is tricky and there is a second false summit along the ascent.

The path dissolves among the rocks when scrambling becomes necessary, then reappears among slippery talus slopes. It was very steep and our progress was very slow.

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Almost there! Following a talus path to the summit

The Summit

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The summit cairn was a welcome sight! We reached the summit after about 4 hours of hiking and were so grateful for the cool breeze blowing at high elevation!

The Purcell Mountains surrounded us in hazy panoramas and we spent a long time admiring the view.

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Cairn overlooking Kootenay Lake and Kokanee Glacier

The wildfire smoke was thick over Kootenay Lake, but the rest of the landscape was floating above the haze. We could see Kokanee Glacier as well as Mount Brennan to the west.

Hiking back down

The trail was much easier to follow coming down from the summit. But it was still steep and poles were much appreciated on the talus.

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Hiking down Loki’s slopes

We took our time descending. There were still sections that required handholds. It wasn’t until we got back down to the ridge line that we were able to start moving along again at a decent pace.

Download GPS file for Mount Loki

loki

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Abby WilsonMike PivaLost Mountain – The Kooteneer Recent comment authors

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[…] on the hike down – only 2 hours! Lost Mountain has similar distance and elevation to the Mount Loki trail, but I kept marvelling at how much easier it is. The trail crew did an excellent job at managing the […]

Mike Piva
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Mike Piva

Hi, your new site is really nice! In regards to Loki’s ridge, are there any parts that are scary or dangerous?

Thanks!

Abby Wilson
Admin

Hi Mike, Mt Loki does have a bit of exposure once you start climbing to the summit. You need to say away from the left (northern) edge where it drops down into cliffs. Luckily the trail and cairns keep you safely to the right so as long as you can keep following them, you should be okay. The ascent is steep, but the grade always felt manageable to me without any places where a loose foot would have huge consequences. I did appreciate having hiking poles for balance though as a there is quite a bit of loose talus heading… Read more »