Barnes Peak (Limestone Ridge)
Barnes Peak is the unofficial name of the highest point along Limestone Ridge in the Flathead region of southeast British Columbia.  Dave McMurray had invited me to join him and Andrew Nugara for an ascent of Barnes Peak earlier in the summer, but due to work commitments, I was unable to participate in their successful traverse of Limestone Ridge.  Armed with McMurray's excellent route description, Zosia Zgolak and I paid a visit to the area on 29 August 2020 to follow in their footsteps.

From Highway 3, turn south onto Corbin Road 12 kilometres east of Sparwood or 7.7 kilometres west of the Alberta-British Columbia provincial boundary.  Drive 24 kilometres and turn right onto Flathead Forest Service Road (FSR).  Drive south for 4.6 kilometres to another junction and turn right onto a rough logging road.  Descend the logging road to a bridge about 300 metres from Flathead FSR.  We parked on the side of the road here, but in retrospect, I probably could have driven another kilometre or so past the bridge.  Flathead FSR is heavily rutted in some spots, and a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended.

From where we parked, Zosia and I crossed the bridge over Michel Creek and followed the logging road for about a kilometre before turning right onto a narrower exploration road.  We soon rock-hopped a creek and began a long and steady climb up the exploration road which leads to a junction with a side road heading south to Barnes Lake.  Ignoring the side road, we continued climbing northward on the exploration road until we reached the crest of a ridge overlooking another basin to the north.  Leaving the road here, we headed west along this ridge to connect with the main north-south spine of Limestone Ridge.  This entails some moderate bushwhacking, but there are also plenty of game trails that allow for fairly easy travel.  One particular section of the ridge is astonishingly steep, and even with the presence of a rudimentary trail, we found ourselves grabbing onto bushes and tree branches to haul ourselves upward.  Thankfully, this section was short-lived, and soon after, we were hiking up more reasonably-angled slopes through ever-thinning trees.  Upon gaining the crest of Limestone Ridge, we turned south and settled into a very pleasant ridge walk going over an unnamed high point before dropping into a big dip.  The final climb up Barnes Peak is longer than it looks from afar, but other than some minor route-finding to avoid a few bushy parts, the ascent is pretty straightforward.

As Zosia and I reached the summit, the weather began changing for the worse, and the wind picked up substantially.  We took shelter in the lee of the ridge just below the summit cairn, but fearing impending rain, we were on the move again after a short break.  Leaving the summit, we continued to follow the ridge crest which turns eastward and drops down to a grassy saddle.  We had some concerns about a stand of trees which seemingly blocked our route to the saddle, but fortunately, we found a nice, bush-free corridor through this obstacle.  From the saddle, we descended an obvious gully pointed toward Barnes Lake, but at the bottom of this gully, we somehow missed the trail that McMurray and Nugara had taken to get to the lakeshore.  As a result, we bushwhacked a bit and ended up in a scrubby drainage which was somewhat unpleasant to follow but ultimately led us down to the south end of the lake.  We picked up a trail here which runs around the east side of the lake, and although it was easy enough to follow, the trail makes a few long-winded detours around deadfall resulting in some rather annoying undulations.  Clearly, the trail had been re-routed to accommodate ATVs even though, according to McMurray, there are signs prohibiting the use of such beyond the junction at the exploration road.  In any case, the trail straightens out in the meadows north of Barnes Lake and eventually becomes the side road that we passed earlier in the day.  We kept heading northward at a confusing split in the side road near a shallow creek crossing, but once we reached the junction, the remainder of our hike out was trouble-free.

A big thank you goes out to Dave McMurray and Andrew Nugara for their legwork in finding such an amazing route.  Relatively easy access, moderately-challenging route-finding, quiet solitude, and beautiful scenery all add up to make Barnes Peak a real gem of a hike.
I probably could have driven another kilometre up the road. Zosia crosses a bridge over Michel Creek at the start of the trip.
That tree branch sticking out of the water made it a little tougher to cross! Sonny rock-hops another creek along the exploration road.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Fortunately, the bushwhacking is not as bad as it looks here. Zosia prepares to leave the road and plunge through the bush here to reach Limestone Ridge.
It's steeper than it looks. Zosia works her way toward the ridge in the background.
Yummy! Wild strawberries are in abundance here on this day.
Mount Ptolemy is an excellent but difficult scramble. Views start to open up as Zosia climbs higher.  Right of centre on the horizon is Mount Ptolemy.
Maybe we'll go for a dip later...maybe. Here is the first glimpse of Barnes Lake from the ridge.
Lookin' good, Zosia! The remainder of the climb to Limestone Ridge is straightforward.
Looks like some good camping spots down there. This body of water is officially unnamed, but according to Dave McMurray, a sign near the bridge over Michel Creek refers to it as Elliot Lake.
Barnes Peak is not visible from here. Zosia heads south along the crest of Limestone Ridge.

Of course, we have to lose some hard-won elevation here...

After climbing over a high point along Limestone Ridge, Zosia finally gets a clear view of Barnes Peak.


Still up for a dip? Sonny pauses at a viewpoint overlooking Barnes Lake.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Great ridge walk! Sonny continues hiking along the crest of Limestone Ridge.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

That's a heck of a drop to the left! Zosia climbs up the north side of Barnes Peak.
Giant steps. Zosia passes some impressive slabs en route to the top.
Always further away than you think! The summit of Barnes Peak is within sight.
We didn't bother to sign the register as it was completely soaked. Sonny and Zosia reach the summit of Barnes Peak (2444 metres).
How about a high dive from the summit? Here is another view of Barnes Lake from the summit.
It's strange that the lower bump of Corrigan is the summit! Visible in the distance are Centre Mountain (far left), Mount Borsato (left of centre), and Mount Corrigan (lower of the two bumps to the right of Mount Borsato).
There is some potentially nice ski touring terrain here...if you could only get here in winter! Zosia turns east and heads for the obvious saddle at lower left.  At far left on the horizon is Mount Darrah.
No thrashing necessary! A stand of trees seemingly blocks access to the saddle, but Zosia finds an easy corridor through this obstacle.

Still some route-finding challenges to come!

Zosia descends an obvious gully aiming for Barnes Lake.


Thankfully, this was short-lived. Zosia thrashes through a thicket of trees on her way down to the lake.
Not the same route that Dave McMurray and Andrew Nugara took! The remainder of the descent to the lake from here still requires some route-finding and mild bushwhacking.
It's not dead. It's pining for the fjords! A dead weasel lies on the trail near Barnes Lake.
Wanna try kayaking the outlet creek back to our car? Sonny finds a two-person kayak stashed near the north end of Barnes Lake.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

A great outing in a beautiful area. Thanks, Dave! Total Distance:  16.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 48 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  1210 metres

GPX Data