Ross Lake is a short hike near Balfour, BC. The trail leads to a quiet sub-alpine lake with fishing and backcountry camping opportunities. It’s a great location for new hikers.
Distance, round trip: 3.5km
Season: late June to early October
Trailhead & Driving Directions
From Highway 3A near Balfour, turn onto Beggs Road and follow it 1.4km until it turns into Redfish Forest Service Road, crossing Laird Creek. Continuing following Redfish FSR higher, forking right at the Redfish Research Area at 3.0km. The road climbs high, and 4WD high clearance is recommended.
At 11.0km, stay left, following the sign for Ross Lake. At 11.3km, cross a bridge. And at 12.6km, reach the junction for Ross Lake and White Lady (picture below):
You can now choose to park at the switch-back or drive up the left fork on the 4WD HC road for the last 0.5km to the trailhead. This last bit of road was rough and overgrown in 2018.
Up the Ross Lake Trail
The trail starts off wide and gentle, then narrows into a steady climb. The route is bordered with overgrowing huckleberry bushes which were just starting to produce small green berries in early July.
As we neared the top, we crossed the bottom of a rockslide and then within 40 minutes were at the lake.
The trail ends with a backcountry camp spot at the shore of the lake. A cool breeze was blowing off the clear blue water – it’s a lovely place!
Hiking Around Ross Lake
There are patches of faint trail going counter-clockwise around the lake. We followed this boot path for a while and had a bit of a bushwhack around the perimeter, climbing up and down deadfall.
Our original plan was to bushwhack up to the ridge beyond and make our way to the summit of Mt. Yuill. However, we chose a route that was thick with rhododendron and made very slow progress as we fought our way uphill. After about an hour of bushwhacking, we called it quits and had lunch on a small meadow.
As we hiked back down, we came to the upper lake higher above Ross Lake and found better access for the ridge (next time!).
We retraced our footsteps around the lake and followed the trail back down. Although this is a short hike, it’s a great summer destination and the ridges offer some interesting opportunities for experienced hikers willing to get off-trail.
I would highly recommend something higher than a 2wd low clearance vehicle going up this road. I took my car up there Last summer, and only made it to about KM6 before I had to turn around.
Thanks for this update – I’ve corrected the post to change the vehicle accessibility.
Had a lovely hike into Ross Lake yesterday for a picnic lunch. The road is rough in places, but our Subaru Outback made it with no problems. Note, however, that there is active logging up on Redfish Creek FSR this summer, and the road is closed Mondays to Fridays.
The trail itself is somewhat overgrown, with quite a few trees down across it that you need to clamber over.
Anyone know if there is still active logging and weekday closure for red fish creek fsr in 2022?
You can check with the West Kootenay Hiking Access group on Facebook. If there is active logging, it will be posted at the start of the FSR.
Went in today….was a fantastic day! The easy rating tricked me tho….while it was an easy trail footing and clearance wise, it was alot of uphill!!! Didn’t realize how steep until our way down. Not terrible, but just surprised me with the easy rating. My Tacoma made the drive easily, and the trail was clear and lovely. Thank you
That’s good to know – I don’t remember it being too steep, but I need to hike it again. I will update it to a moderate trail rating in the meantime.