Estekwalan Mountain GR:133010

elevation: 1,772 m.
height gain: 1,150 m. (includes FSR)
area: Falkland,BC
map 82 L/12

Ref: Recreation Sites and Trails BC
Note: Estekwalan Mountain's summit is mislabelled on the topo map, the western highpoint on the plateau is lower than the northern peak.

service road

Start of the service road.
Scramble: RT 8.0; 4.5 up (includes biking the service road). Estekwalan Mountain came to my attention when I wrote the webpage for neighbouring Tuktakamin Mountain. A Google search revealed a lot of information about the objective that is unique in this region. It is one of the thickest exposed sections of the lavas, which form the bulk of the Kamloops Group; impressive cliffs of volcanic rock stand out. Furthermore, the option of hiking a loop and possibly encountering a bit of scrambling appealed to me. My truck wasn't running very well; since I didn't trust it and wanted to avoid a costly tow on a service road, I decided to bike the 7-kilometer approach to the trailhead. I probably pushed my bike a good third of the way up; it was still faster and easier than walking. After stashing my bike, I started hiking. The trail is marked as it climbs steeply along the mountainside. In little time, I gained the rocky ridge. The upper mountain's terrain looked like it would grant some fun scrambling; however, it's an illusion; other than a couple of steps requiring caution, it is merely a hike. I took a quick break at the cairn that indicates the apex of the loop trail. I couldn't see the higher peak because of surrounding trees but my GPS confirmed I needed to keep going due north along the ridge. There was still a lot of snow in the trees, luckily it was firm; it took less than an hour to reach the true summit. I enjoyed the highpoint despite the absence of a cairn and lack of a 360˚ view. After backtracking to the false summit, I made my way down the loop trail. The descent along the ridge to the saddle is pleasant. From the saddle, the trail was still snowbound; markers and cut logs made it easy to follow. The start of the descent to the road is well-indicated. The Vernon Outdoor Club has placed numerous ropes along the way as the trail is very steep. In places, steps have been carved into the ground to help secure footing. On this day, it appeared overkill though I can imagine this trail would be treacherous if wet or frozen. The descent to the road was quick and direct. I casually walked back to my bike and rode "on the brakes" pretty much the whole way down. This loop is a great early-season objective. 

objective ahead

The objective comes into view.


The trailhead.

good trail

The trail is well-marked.

encountering some snow

Encountering some snow higher up.

upper mountain

The upper mountain grants interesting hiking on volcanic rock.

south-east ridge

Gaining the south-east ridge.

gap in the ridge

A gap in the ridge allows a view down to valley bottom.

nearing the false summit

Nearing the false summit.

tuktakamin mountain

Tuktakamin Mountain to the south.

cairn at false summit

This cairn indicates the apex of the loop trail, the actual summit is further north.

continuing to true summit

Continuing to the true summit.

monashee mountains

The Monashee Mountains to the east.

true summit

There's no cairn at the true summit.

looking over false summit

Looking over the false summit with Tuktakamin Mountain on the right.

north-western view

North-western view, Mount Martin is hidden behind the trees.

monashee mountains

A close up of the Monashee Mountains.

spa hills

North-eastern view towards Spa Hills.


Backtracking to the false summit.

hiking the loop down

Heading down the south-west ridge to hike the loop.

looking back

Looking back at the false summit.

pleasant ridge walk

Pleasant ridge walk.

picking the right ridge

Don't be inticed to descend the adjacent ridge that ends up lower in the drainage.

descent to the saddle

Descent to the saddle.

following the trail

Following the trail is easy even with snow coverage.

back on the plateau

Back on the plateau.

numerous markers

Numerous markers indicate the descent trail.

steep and crumbly

Steep and crumbly!

useful ropes

Ropes can be useful under certain circumstances.

many ropes along the way

There are ropes along most of the descent.

more rope

More rope!

looking back

Looking back at the very steep descent from the road. There's no trailhead here, look for the red marker on a tree.
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