Mt. Giegerich / Sapphire Lakes Loop
Just starting to venture off trail? Mt. Giegerich is a gentle giant with two easy ridge-lines, inviting you to walk on up! This loop follows the official Sapphire Lakes Trail, summits Giegerich, dips down to the Sapphire Lakes, and then returns to Kaslo Lake via the unofficial Commission Creek route. It’s a wonderful circuit for folks staying in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park – offering a day hike that’s moderate yet adventurous.
Trailhead: Kalso Lake, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
Distance, Round Trip: 8.6km
This is a loop, starting from Kaslo Lake (either the campground or cabin). We hiked counter-clockwise, so that is what is described here!
Same as the Sapphire Lakes Trail – starting at Kokanee Glacier Cabin, follow signs for Sapphire Lakes. The trail edges Kaslo Lake before beginning to switch back higher above the cabin.
The trail angles into the Griffin Creek drainage, crossing the creek and edging up the valley amidst giant boulders of white granite.
Approaching Giegerich via Griffin Creek
As you proceed along Griffin Creek at a gentle climb, Mt. Giegerich comes into view in the distance.
The trail angles left and begins to climb away from Griffin Creek as it approaches Lemon Pass at the feet of Giegerich.
At the top of Lemon Pass, step off the trail. Mt. Giegerich looks high, but the summit is merely a +187m climb over 800m distance. The Sapphire Lakes Trail has already brought you most of the way!
There is no marked trail, so just look ahead and try to avoid the boulder fields and any extensive talus patches. The ridge-line that starts from Lemon Pass provides a steady, manageable climb without any exposure.
As you walk on, keep looking back – the view behind is opening up!
Mt. Giegerich Summit
We reached the summit after about 30 minutes of leaving Lemon Pass. After signing the summit register (and also discovering the Giegerich family time capsule), we took a short break and snapped some panoramas.
There was a lot of wildfire smoke clouding the view, but the near landmarks of Kokanee Glacier Park were easy to spot. We could see the Sapphire Lakes down below, along with Mt. John Carter and Glory Basin. Further back, Kokanee Glacier was cradled between the distant peaks.
Down to the Sapphire Lakes
We left the summit of Mt. Giegerich and followed the south-eastern ridge line to descend towards the Sapphire Lakes. There were faint boot-beaten paths along this route along with the occasional cairn to follow.
As we got closer to Sapphire Lakes, we continued to angle south-east to avoid the large boulder patch that borders the lower lakes at the base of Giegerich.
Once we reached the lakes, we followed a path to the waterfall that we’d spotted from above. This was a great spot for a break and foot-soak, but we didn’t stay long because thunder started rumbling in the smokey sky and we couldn’t tell where it was coming from.
Down the Commission Creek Route
We left the Sapphire Lakes and angled down towards Commission Creek. There isn’t an official trail down Commission Creek, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover a route that was well-marked by cairns and foot-path… just as good as the Sapphire Lakes Trail!
It wasn’t long before walking aimlessly down the Commission Creek drainage that we picked up the first cairns and started following the trail. Commission Creek was scenic – white granite, reflective pools, meandering creeklets that dripped intriguingly into waterfalls.
The Commission Creek route dips down into the valley between Keen Lake and Garland Lake before connecting with the main Kokanee Lake Trail. We turned left and headed back to the Kaslo Lake campground to spend the night. With some short breaks, it took us 5 hours to hike this loop.