The trail to Panther Lake traces an old mining route as it climbs through big hemlock forests. The sub-alpine lake is a scenic destination, cradled beneath the ridges of the Three Sisters Peaks.
Distance, round trip: 6.2km
Season: early July to late September
Trailhead and Driving Directions
The road is suitable for 2WD low clearance cars until the final 1.7km. The final stretch has deep waterbars that require a brave 4WD high clearance vehicle.
From Airport Road in Salmo, turn onto Sheep Creek FSR and reset your odometer. Stay on the main road at all junctions, following Sheep Creek as it stays to the right of the road. At 10km, pass the junction for Waldie Lake and stay left. The road gets a narrower. At 14km, reach the signed junction for Curtis Lake. If you’re in a 2WD Low Clearance vehicle, park here. Otherwise, fork left and ascend over deep waterbars for the final 1.7km to the trailhead. At 15km, fork right and cross a bridge (follow the arrow sign). At 15.7km, park where the road widens at a switchback and continue on foot taking the right junction, walking across the old cutblock. You’ll reach the official trailhead at the end of the overgrown road after 0.3km.
Up the Panther Creek Trail
The trail continues up the old road and then at 0.7km veers off on a route marked by flags and cairns to ascend the forest and cross Panther Creek on a bridge.
Rejoin the old road at 0.85km and continue a steady ascent up through beautiful old hemlock forest. At 1.6km, cross Panther Creek again on logs and look down to see the creek pouring through waterfalls in a small canyon.
After 2km, the uphill grade eases slightly and the forest opens up into small trees and huckleberries bushes.
At 3.1km, reach scenic Panther Lake. A rustic camping area has been cleared with benches and a firepit. You can continue following the trail along the northern edge of the lake and find a nice picnic spot. The trail will eventually wind up to a mountain pass between the Three Sisters Peaks which was used by early miners.