Gray Creek Pass (Gray Creek - Kimberley)

Map Legend & Disclaimer

Note that you can click on each object on the map to obtain details about it.

Trans Canada Trail Legend:

Trans Canada Trail Pavilion
Multi-Use Route (Cycling & Walking)
Hiking Only Route (No Cycling)
Equestrian Route (May Allow Cyclists/Walkers)
Paddling/Water Route
Temporary Bypass or Unofficial TCT Route
Trans Canada Trail Closed
Obstacle or Warning (click it for details)

Alternate Route Legend:

Alternate Route for Cyclists & Walkers
Alternate Route for Hiking
Alternate Route for Equestrians
Connection Point to the Trans Canada Trail

Google Maps Legend:

Map menu to access highlights, campsites, grocery stores, parking areas, toilets and more!
Click the grey star at the top of the map to favourite it in Google Maps, so you can pull it up later in your Google Maps app's "My Places".

Disclaimer: This trail information is subject to changes. While reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information on this site is correct, Trails BC makes no warranty about the accuracy of this information and accepts no liability for any inconvenience or any direct or consequential loss arising from reliance upon this information. Be sure to check our Latest Trail Closures before heading out and read our full disclaimer!.

Please contact Trails BC if you require in-depth trail knowledge or have suggestions or corrections. Support us by becoming a member or donating funds!

GPS Downloads

  • KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth, and many smartphone apps.
  • GPX files can be opened by most GPS software apps when KMZ cannot. Note, GPX files do not contain custom colours and icons that we use on our maps; all tracks and icons will appear the same colour and styles. We recommend using KMZ instead of GPX if possible.

The files below include data for only this specific area. For all of our Trans Canada Trail data for the entire province (including features, campsites and alternate routes), download our BC.kmz master file (1.2 MB)

Visit our GPS & Navigation page for instructions of how to use your smartphone as a GPS device (even when outside of data coverage) or how to import data to your Garmin unit.

About the Route: 

Travelling the Trans Canada Trail from Gray Creek to Kimberley is an extremely arduous journey in the wilderness for 80 km on a forestry road, plus an extra 10 km through Kimberley Nature Park with minimal amenities, no supplies and limited-to-no cell service until approaching Kimberley. Cyclists should carry spare brakes, chain links, tubes, tires and a comprehensive set of bike tools. If you are up to the challenge, you certainly will be glad you tried it!

The route follows active forestry roads and cyclists are asked to USE CAUTION along the way; the road's poor visibility and heavily laden logging truck traffic can make this route a potentially hazardous journey if users do not remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Give all traffic - particularly logging trucks - extra room to pass.

Note: The Gray Creek Pass road is normally closed to vehicles through the winter, opening as late as early-mid July. Late snow and the occasional washout can delay the annual opening. Hikers and cyclists can often pass through these obstacles but do so at their own risk. Visit the Gray Creek Store's website for the latest road conditions!

Here are some historical dates for the seasonal openings/closings:

OPENING DATE (approx) CLOSING DATE (approx)
June 23, 2017 October 18, 2017
June 21, 2016 November 11, 2016
June 10, 2015 October 31, 2015
June 26, 2014 October 31, 2014 (3" snow)
July 4, 2013 October 3, 2013 (6" snow)
2012: Closed most of the year due to washouts, etc  

The history of the route over Gray Creek Pass goes back to the 1950s, when Cominco (now Teck Metals) built a power line over the Pass. Cominco employees who had relocated from Kimberley to Riondel were keen to have a shorter route back to the East Kootenay, and at the time two roads were considered – one over Gray Creek Pass, and one over Rose Pass to the north. It wasn't until the late '80s when the push for the backcountry route finally gathered momentum. Rose Pass would have required a three-mile tunnel so that idea was abandoned. Gray Creek Pass was finally completed in the 1990s, and officially opened in July 1990. Since, the powerline has been abandoned - but the road remains a popular route for visitors to the area, particularly amongst RV enthusiasts. Curiously, publicity about the route draws many German tourists to the Pass each year.

The route described begins at the Gray Creek Store (not to be confused with the General Store further south). Its eastern endpoint is the "Platzl" pedestrian mall in Kimberley.

For hikers Trails BC has proposed a hiking alternative as shown on our map page for the part of the route from Gray Creek to over the pass and connecting to  the main Forestry Road. To read about a hiker who has done this section refer to this posted article.

  • Cruising downill on the east side of the pass
  • Cyclists attempting the hiking alternative on the east side, a bit of bike push
  • Starting the climb to the pass just above the hamlet of Gray Creek
  • A nasty washout!
  • KM #11 from Gray Creek
  • Oliver Lake Recreation Site (c/o sitesandtrailsbc.ca)
  • Oliver Lake, October 4, 2013 (c/o Gray Creek Store)
  • Oliver Lake Recreation Site (c/o sitesandtrailsbc.ca)
  • Last bit of snow on the Pass, June 28 2013
  • Gray Creek Pass Summit, Oct 4, 2013 (c/o Gray Creek Store)
  • Snow on the Pass, June 15 2013
  • Pushing through snow, June 15 2013
  • Summit June 23, 2017 c/o Grey Creek Store
  • Over Gray Creek Pass, June 15 2013
  • Summit June 23, 2017 c/o Grey Creek Store
  • KM #17 from Gray Creek (past the Pass)
  • Beginning the climb east over Gray Creek Pass
  • KM #37 from Gray Creek
  • Approaching Gray Creek Pass from Kimberley

Trail Highlights and Developments: 

Russell Musio of the Backroad Mapbooks rates the Gray Creek Pass as the Most Important Backroad in BC.  Backroad Mapbooks has published a waterproof, foldable West Kootenay map ($12.95 at the Gray Creek Store) which corrects some of the errors that are in their older book.

Oliver Lake Recreation Site has picnic tables and an outhouse, about 1/4 mile before the summit. The lake is not visible from the road but is worth taking 10 minutes to walk to and a few more to walk around. A trail crew built a neat path around the lake, splitting big boulders to make a path that travels through 400 year old larches. Residents of Gray Creek village say that the water of Gray Creek and the south fork is safe to drink.

Take note of the steep climbs/descents:

  • Average of nearly 9% grade for 17 km from Kootenay Lake up to Gray Creek Pass

  • Average of nearly 6% grade for 12 km from Gray Creek Pass down to Parker's Creek 

Trails BC is looking at developing the abandoned power line utility road that parallels the forestry road as a hiking and equestrian alternative, however some bridges have to placed before the the entire power line route can be recommended. Hikers can currently use this option from from Gray Creek until it meets the main forestry road 7 km above the hamlet of Gray Creek. From this junction the power line road utilizes a different pass to reconnect with Gray Creek Pass forestry service road on the east side of Gray Creek Pass; however, this segment requires a ford over a creek above the junction with the main road. To obtain an overview of the longterm goal of developing this section as part of the Trans Canada refer to this Powerpoint Photo Album that was done by Trails BC a few years ago.

Heading north from Riverside Campground, a lovely trail climbs into Kimberly proper via the Kimberley Nature Park.

Trail Operator: 

Starting from the west:

  • Kootenay Lake to start of Forest Service Road: Ministry of Transportation, West Kootenay District
  • From start of the Forest Service Road to the Pass: Ministry of Forests, West Kootenay District
  • From the Pass to approx 7.8 km west of St. Mary's Lake: Ministry of Forests, Rocky Mountain District
  • Approx 7.8 km west of St. Mary's Lake to city of Kimberley boundary (1 km west of Riverside Campground): Ministry of Transportation, Rocky Mountain District
  • 1 km west of Riverside Campground to Kimberley Nature Park to downtown: City of Kimberley

Trail Stewards and Volunteers: 

Other Regional Trail Groups: 

Accommodations

There are only two designated camping sites on the route, besides those located in Gray Creek:

  • Oliver Lake Recreation Site, located 800 meters west of the summit - a picturesque but primitive campground with an outhouse and tables.
  • Riverside Campground, which is located on the St. Mary's River, 14 km east of St. Mary's Lake.

Unofficial campsites are numerous as this is wilderness; but please be sure to do so responsibility - leaving no trace, lighting no fires, and being careful that you are not on private property.

Directions: Eastbound

The climb from Kootenay Lake to the summit of Gray Creek Pass is a continuous and unrelenting grade that gains 1524 metres (5,000 ft) in elevation over 17 km with an average grade of 8.8% to a maximum altitude of 2072 metres (6800 ft) above sea level. Do not expect to attempt this section until at least July 1st as snow lingers on in the pass well into the summer. For more more information on current conditions of this road please contact the Gray Creek Store on Kootenay Lake. The highway alternative to this section is to follow Highway 3B along the east side of Kootenay Lake until one reaches Creston where Highway 3 would be utilized into to Cranbrook. Total distance via highway to Kimberley would be 200 km.

Starting from the Gray Creek Store (not to be confused with the General Store/Post Office/Gas Station that is 2.5 km further south), head south on Highway 3B for 50 metres to unpaved Oliver Road on the left. Road signs may indicate the Gray Creek Cemetery. Head uphill for 300 metres to a junction; veer right, crossing the Gray Creek bridge. Oliver Road proper veers off to the right - but continue straight on Juniper Road; a sign may warn you to carry winter tires or chains. Within 30 metres, the road will bend sharply uphill to the left - the first of many hairpins. The next hairpin lies 450 metres ahead.

The road will straighten and follow Gray Creek, climbing steadily for 5.5 km to a hairpin to the left, then a second to the right. It is at this second hairpin that those who took the former powerline trail (hiking route alternative) will join us on the forestry road for the journey over Gray Creek Pass. From here, the road climbs into the sky for another 10.5 km to the summit, first heading south, then heading east in a series of hairpin turns. Oliver Lake Recreation Site is located 800 metres before the summit.

The descent from the summit begins with a drop of 700 metres (2,300 ft) over 12 km (average of 6% grade), then flattens out significantly after crossing Parker Creek. From here, the downhill grade averages 1%. About 37 km from the summit, the road crosses St. Mary's River, and another 13 km past that, lies St. Mary's Lake. At the east end of St. Mary's Lake, the road is paved - welcome back to civilization!

The road continues for 14 km to the Kimberley Riverside Campground, located on the south (right) side of the road, with its parking area and distinct green roofed buildings. The trail route leave the road at this point - directly across the road from the camground, you will see a small parking area and a trail kiosk on the north side of the road. Take the trail north. The trail may be a bit obscure, but will arrive at Jimmy Russell road in 250 metres. Turn left and follow the road, which runs in a NW direction:

  • In 100 metres, the road forks - stay on Jimmy Russell Road on the right.
  • After another 250 metres, the road will split again - stay to the left.
  • The road continues in a predominantly NW direction, steadily climbing uphill. In 800 metres, yet another fork. Continue on Jimmy Russell to the left, arriving to a small bridge.
  • After 300 metres, Jimmy Russell meets Army Road. Take Army Road on the right, heading north.
  • In 200 metres, Army Rd forks - go right on the main trail.
  • Army Road now travels NE for 2.6 km to the Kimberley Nature Park kiosk junction. Go right on Lower Army Road.
  • After another 2.4 km on Lower Army Road, you will arrive to a gate, exiting Kimberley Nature Park.

Arriving to the Kimberley, you will find yourself at the corner of Burnett Street and Swan Avenue. The route follows city streets for 1.2 km to the Platzl pedestrian mall and hugs the western edge of town:

  • Follow Swan Ave north for 600 metres to the highway, known as Wallinger Road. 
  • Turn left onto Wallinger from Swan Ave and head north for 175 metres, crossing a small bridge and arriving at Mark Street (BJ's Pub on your right)
  • Turn left onto Mark Street, follow for 90 m to the end.
  • Turn right onto Deer Park Ave, follow for 100 m to Ross Street
  • Turn left onto Ross Street, which bends to the right, becoming Kimberley Ave. The Tourist Information Office is on your right.
  • At the next intersection (60 m past the Info Centre), turn right into the Platzl and proceed along the walkway towards the Cuckoo Clock.

Report a Trail Closure

ONLY USE THIS FORM TO REPORT CLOSURES ON THE TRANS CANADA TRAIL / THE GREAT TRAIL.

Trail maintenance issues are the responsibility of the Trail Steward, which is either the trail owner or a group given authorization to perform maintenance work. Trails BC is a trail steward for a very limited number of trail segments on the Trans Canada Trail; unfortunately, if a major trail issue occurs along the Trans Canada Trail, there is often very little we can do about it - but we can try to pass on the information to the trail steward, if one exists.

Information such as a precise location (GPS waypoint), photo, as well as your contact information is extremely helpful to ensure the problem is accurately reported.

AGAIN, DO NOT USE THIS FORM TO SUBMIT NOTICES ABOUT TRAILS THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE TRANS CANADA TRAIL. We will simply delete the submission and it will not be posted or passed on to anyone. If you need to report a closure on such a trail, please determine the trail owner or operator and send a notice to them.

Would it be unwise to continue through the closure or blockage? You may add more detail in your report.
Please enter your trail closure report. Include a GPS location or a detailed description of its precise location.
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If the blockage/closure can be bypassed, please include your recommended route to do so!