Gimli Ridge

Mt. Gimli is a striking pillar of rock, towering high in the Valhalla range. This hike is tough, but rewarding. The trail leads up to the base of Gimli where it wraps around to a final ledge. Here, hikers can look down into the Mulvey Basin lakes, or just spin and spin and take in the panoramas of jagged peaks and sky.

Summary
Trailhead: Bannock Burn Road
Distance, round trip: 10.3km
Elevation: +909m
Difficulty:  Difficult

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Trailhead

Starting in the village of Slocan, drive 13km down Little Slocan FSR, following the signs for Valhalla Provincial Park. Turn right onto Bannock Burn FSR and drive 13km up. As of 2019, there are over 97 waterbars on Bannock Burn, making the drive unnecessarily challenging and restricted to 4WD high clearance vehicles.

As soon as you step out, it’s pretty clear where you’re headed:

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Gimli far in the distance
Safety
Exposure – there is some exposure in the final section of this hike if you follow the route to overlook Mulvey Basin.

Rockfall – there is a risk of falling rock below Gimli Peak, especially on the route to overlook Mulvey Basin.

Goats – the mountain goats on Gimli are notoriously friendly, but give them their space and respect. They’re looking for a taste of sweet hiker urine, so please use the outhouse that BC Parks built and discourage the goats from following humans around. For more goat tips, check out this Mountain Goat Basics article.

Important

The Gimli trail is used to access more advanced mountaineering routes in the area. These advanced routes are not described here and are not recommended for regular hikers.

  • Summiting Gimli Peak – this is done via a scramble with significant exposure and technical moves. This route is not recommended. There have been recent fatalities on this route.
  • Descending into Mulvey Basin – this route involves a down-climb and traverse across a steep snow field. Mountaineering equipment and skills are required.

Into the woods

The first part of the hike is just an uphill slog through the woods. The elevation gain is steady and you’ll get a solid workaround. The trail crosses a creek and then slowly climbs up towards the tree line.

As the trees begin to thin, Mt. Gimli becomes visible again:

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Getting closer

Up to the saddle

The next section of trail takes you out of the trees and towards the base of Gimli. The trail winds up subalpine slopes and wildflowers proliferate in July. Soon the valley falls away and you are walking up a ridge with views all around.

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Hiking up to Gimli Ridge

There is a saddle on the south shoulder of Gimli with primitive camping for climbers. This camp is a good destination for most hikers who want to minimize the risks of the second half. You’ll reach this spot after about 2 – 2.5 hours of uphill hiking.

Approaching Gimli
Gimli Peak

From the campground, you’ll see the spiky peaks around Mulvey Basin chained around a curved ridgeline. Looking south, see an expanse of overlapping ridges fading into hazy blue.

View south

Along Gimli’s edge

If you wish to carry onwards to the view overlooking Mulvey Basin, keep hiking towards the base of Gimli and watch for the trail wrapping around to the left.

This last segment of the trail is narrow and skirts a steep slope. Caution is required as there is exposure and the risk of rockfall.

Oh hey there, Mr. Mountain Goat

In order to reach the ridge, you must scramble over a field of boulders. These rocks have the same dark zebra-stripes that ripple across Gimli. The boulders are the size that seem to require both hands and feet to navigate. All good fun.

Mulvey Basin

The trail ends at the steep sharp cliff over Mulvey Basin. The views are spectacular and terrifying.  The drop into Mulvey Basin is 300m so you’ll want to be careful.

Back Down

This is a “there and back again” hike so retrace your steps to head back down to the trailhead.

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[…] spent a summery September day hiking Gimli Ridge! We hiked this trail last year under ominous active weather, but today the Valhallas were sunny and warm and […]

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[…] spent a summery September day hiking Gimli Ridge! We hiked this trail last year under ominous active weather, but today the Valhallas were sunny and warm and […]

Shawna Woelke
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Shawna Woelke

Wanted to do the hike but my Dodge Journey did not make it up. Needless to say I only have a 2wd….So please ensure you have the proper wheels to go up this crazy road.

Abby Wilson
Admin

Sorry to hear you could’t make it up! The new waterbars are a bit of a challenge for 2WD vehicles. If you want to see a list of all hikes that are accessible with 2WD, check out this category: https://westkootenayhiking.ca/category/trail-review/2wd-low-clearance-vehicle/

Robin
Guest
Robin
Trail Rating :
     

Hi, Abby.
Just wanted to let you know that the number of waterbars on Bannock Burn has increased significantly, We tallied 97 as of August 31, 2019. The newer ones seem to be the most challenging (especially during the last 3-4 kilometers of the drive). We were very thankful to be driving a Tacoma. That being said, we did see a mini-van up there, as well as a cargo van. I guess it depends on one’s navigational experience. But I wouldn’t do this road without high clearance. 4WD was nice.
Cheers!
Robin

Trip Date
2019-08-31
Trail Conditions
Excellent (with some muddy spots in the first 1-2 kilometers).
Access Road Conditions
Waterbars galore!
Access Road Vehicle
4WD High Clearance
Abby Wilson
Admin

Thanks for the update – I’ve changed the waterbar tally from 72 to 97, yikes! I was up there last week and saw a little Yaris, so I think it does depend a bit on skill. But for sure, 4WD High Clearance recommended!