Wakefield Trail – Idaho Peak

Do you think driving to the top of mountains is overrated? Do you really want to earn it? The Wakefield Trail gets you up to Idaho Peak using your own two feet. It’s a hard, steady climb that traces old mining routes to the top of Silver Ridge.

Summary
Trailhead: Silverton Creek FSR,
Distance, round trip: 14.2km
Elevation: +1000m
Difficulty:  Difficult

Background

The Wakefield Trail follows an old pack trail used by miners to access Silver Ridge. As the trail climbs higher, it crosses old mine tailings and the remnants of rail tracks.

Parking Below the Trailhead

Driving directions can be found at Recreation Sites and Trails BC. After 4.6km on Silverton FSR, you turn left up a road signed ‘Wakefield’. Then 800m later, you reach a junction of two roads. Fork right and drive 3.3km up to reach the trailhead. It is overgrown so you might earn some “Kootenay pinstripes” on your vehicle.

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Access road to Wakefield Trail, overgrown

The Official Trailhead

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Up to the Ridge

Leaving the road behind, it is 4km to Silver Ridge and another 2km further to Idaho Peak. The trail begins switching back through the forest at a steady climb, with glimpses of the Valhallas through the trees. The forest was lush and shaded from the morning sun, but it was hard work and a hot climb!

In the final kilometre, the forest starts to break up with avalanche paths and mine tailings. The views are spectacular and the wildflowers really start to show!

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Mine tailings and rail tracks over the Wakefield Trail

One annoying thing: Idaho Peak continuously pops into view as you hike along the trail. The fire tower is always higher and never closer. It tends to remind you that despite how high and far you’ve come, it is so much higher and farther to go before the final ascent to the ridge!

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Idaho Peak above and beyond

Idaho Peak and Silver Ridge

At long last! The Wakefield trail climbs to the parking lot at Idaho Peak! Now there are panoramic mountain views all around!

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Wakefield Trail access from Silver Ridge

You might be annoyed, having just hiked almost 1000m elevation, that everyone else just drove to the top and skipped the grind of the Wakefield Trail. That is understandable. But one advantage is that Wakefield is south-facing so it is snow-free when the Idaho Peak road is still buried in the early summer. Also isn’t the journey supposed to be more important than the destination?

Regardless, we were bagged by the time we reached Silver Ridge and so we began a slow shamble along the final 2km to Idaho Peak.

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Looking along Silver Ridge

The views on Idaho Peak were spectacular! Early July had meadows of Yellow Glacier Lily and anemone appearing where the snow retreated. Yellow Ragwort also dotted the slopes with Indian Paintbrush just starting to appear.

The Descent

What goes up must come down, and sadly that is true for tired hikers out in the summer heat. We took the descent slowly, watching our step on the loose gravel of the mine tailings.

With our extra walk down the last 3.3km of access road (we didn’t park at the trailhead), we were out for 9 hours. Our total hike was 21.2km and +1449m elevation, ahhh!

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