Cornice Ridge

Cornice Ridge is a simple ridge-line hike on Kootenay Pass. With easy access and good landmarks, this trail is a great choice for a short summer adventure.

Summary
Trailhead: Bridal Lake, Stagleap Provincial Park
Distance, round trip: 6.2km
Elevation: +493m
Difficulty:  Moderate 
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Trailhead & Driving Directions

Drive up Highway 3 to the top of Kootenay Pass, between Salmo and Creston. Park beside Bridal Lake at the summit. This is popular backcountry skiing area in winter, but the summer hiking is just as worthwhile. Besides Cornice Ridge, you’ll also find the excellent trail to Ripple Ridge/Lightning Strike across the highway.

Beautiful scenery at Bridal Lake

Above Bridal Lake

To access Cornice Ridge, walk to the day-use hut beside the lake and look for a trail ascending to the left of it. Follow this trail and quickly reach a junction – take the right fork and ascend. The trail will weave through huckleberry bushes and bear grasses before steadily angling up above Bridal Lake.

After 0.8km, the trail will crest to the edge of the ridge and meet another junction. Go left and ascend. Right will circle back down to Bridal Lake in a loop. The route is steeper now, climbing along shelves of rock. Looking up, the rest of Cornice Ridge comes into view:

Panorama of Cornice Ridge

Left you’ll see the Avalanche Control Station with the ridge curling beyond. Looking back across the highway, you’ll see Ripple Ridge and Monk Peak.

Monk Peak, across the Highway

Up to the Avalanche Control Station

The trail ascends to the Avalanche Control Station and gets steeper! You’ll pass a helipad beside the station and then come to the first high-point on the ridge with a great view all around.

Hiking to the first high point

The view is respectable from this high point, but it’s not the true summit of Cornice Ridge. Looking North along the ridge, you’ll see the summit further along, dotted with a cairn.

Looking torwards the Cornice Ridge summit

If you’re continuing on, know that the trail fizzles out and the grades get steeper! It’s just 1km down and up to the proper summit – it’s up to you!

Cornice Ridge Summit

Descend steeply from the first high point and traverse the ridge, picking you way among the fierce stunted pine trees. As the ridge extends, you’ll get a clear view looking West down the highway – see Lost Mountain in the distance. Another great hike in the area!

Viewing looking West down Highway 3, Lost Mountain is in third from the right
Pines along the ridge

As you ascend again, be wary of exposure along the northern slopes which falls away into cliffs. You’ll reach the true summit fairly quickly and be treated to views of the rolling mountains beyond.

The summit cairn
View North to Wolf Peak

Cornice Ridge continues East and you can keep following it! You’ll loose elevation again, but will come to some interesting granite boulders interspersed with wind-sculpted trees. When you’ve had enough, retrace your steps to head home!

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[…] into scratchy stalks, but it was a great time of year for huckleberry picking. As we walked along, Cornice Ridge became visible to the north with the highway winding far […]

Leah Jackson
Guest
Leah Jackson

Looks awesome! Do you think this is a do-able snowshoe?

Abby Wilson
Admin

Hi Leah, it is a popular ski-touring route and I believe you could snowshoe, but there is some very complex avalanche terrain in the area so you’d need to do some research on the risks before you go. A bit of info online here: https://backcountryskiingcanada.com/KOOTENAY_PASS#CORNICE