Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alps Alturas

Alps Alturas Trail
Distance: 9.61 km (6.0 mi).
Route type: Out-and-back
Suitable for: Hiking
Elevation change: 509 metres up, 509 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

The Alps Alturas trail will fill a big half day, or a lazier full day. The access road takes about an hour to drive the 28 kilometres each way and is best suited to 4WD vehicles, but it's a drive that holds its own magic: the views begin to open up by the 12 km mark and are breathtaking. The drive is not for the faint of heart, but this year the road is in good shape except for the last 750 metres or so. The turnoff from Highway 6 is at Rosebery, 5 km north of New Denver, along East Wilson Creek Road. After a couple of kilometres, take the right fork towards Dennis Creek Basin and Alps Alturas. Keep following the main road. Once the views open up, the road descends for a bit. Don't worry: you're still heading the correct way!

We took it easy and found that the hike took about two and a half hours of moving time. With breaks, and a bit of picnicking and exploration time at the top, we probably took closer to 4 hours on the trail. In late August the wildflowers were a little past their prime, but the boggy area was relatively dry and the temperatures were perfect -- not too hot despite the bright clear exposure.

This is a trail best undertaken by people who are reasonably fit. We brought a determined little 10-year-old with us and it was easily within her capabilities, but it was a fair bit of work. The climbing isn't overly steep, and is broken up by some rolling sections, but you do gain 300 metres of it over the first couple of kilometres.

The trail affords some spectacular views and changes of terrain, everything from lush green basins, vistas of the Valhallas, raw stony slopes, last winter's snow to cold clear lakes. If you have the vehicle for the drive and thighs that don't mind a bit of muscle burn now and then, this is one of the best day hikes in the area.

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