Weary of the hot weather in the West
Kootenays during our recent road trip, Zosia Zgolak and I ventured
further west to the Coquihalla Pass region of British Columbia in hopes
of finding cooler temperatures. We also had intentions to stick
around for a few days to bag a few easy peaks in the vicinity.
After a lengthy drive which consumed most of the morning of 19 August
2020, we decided to squeeze in a quick afternoon hike up Zoa Peak near
Falls Lake. A well-maintained trail runs all the way up the peak
and is described in the guidebook, 103 Hikes in Southwestern British
Columbia by Jack Bryceland and David & Mary Macaree.
From Highway 5, take exit 221 65 kilometres south of the junction with
Highway 5A/97C or 44 kilometres north of the junction with Highway 3.
If coming from the south (Hope), take the underpass to get to the west
side of Highway 5. Follow the paved Falls Lake Road westward for
1.1 kilometres to a large parking lot.
Ironically, the hot weather Zosia and I were trying to avoid was still
present when we set off from the parking lot to hike up Zoa Peak.
After immediately passing the junction with the trail to Falls Lake, we
hiked up the road for about another 200 metres before turning left at a
signed junction. This short connector trail leads to a pipeline
right-of-way where we turned right and gained about 185 metres of
elevation over a distance of 800 metres to yet another signed junction.
Ripe huckleberries were in abundance all along the right-of-way, and it
was difficult to resist stopping every few metres or so to stuff our
faces. At the second signed junction, the trail leaves the
right-of-way and rises steeply through the forest. Eventually, the
angle of the slope relaxes, and the trees thin out a bit giving way to
some pleasant sub-alpine meadows. The main trail skirts around a
false summit before climbing up the final summit block, but surprisingly,
it does not go all the way to the top. Instead, the trail bypasses
the true summit and officially ends at a semi-open meadow with some
respectable views to the northwest. We stopped here for a short
break before backtracking a bit to find the true summit.
Disappointingly, the true summit is completely covered in trees.
Zosia and I even ascended the false summit on our way out hoping that
there would be better views from there, but sadly, the false summit is
also a scenic zero. Perhaps we were a bit spoiled by the
far-reaching views we had on all the West Kootenay peaks that we climbed
recently, but I felt a bit ripped off by the hike up Zoa Peak. Even
the bountiful sweet huckleberries that we collected on our hike out could
not remove the bitter disappointment I felt as we returned to the parking
lot. A refreshing rinse in Fallslake Creek and dinner at a nearby
rest stop helped to alleviate my sullen mood a bit. At the rest
stop, we were able to check the weather forecast, and with a rainy front
moving into the region, we ironically drove out of the area and headed
Here is a closer look at Vicuna Peak (left) and Guanaco
Peak to the northwest.