From Fort St. James, follow Highway 27 out the north end of town and turn left at Stones Bay Road. Drive 4.1 kilometres and turn right to enter a large parking lot at the main signed trailhead. The unsigned climber's trailhead is another 1.4 kilometres further along Stones Bay Road, but there is no viable space for parking there.
Starting from an information kiosk at the
main trailhead, Zosia and I followed a good trail winding up the slope.
Other than the general monotony of hiking through viewless forest, there
are no difficulties to speak of with this trail. It climbs
partially over a subsidiary ridge before losing some elevation to
traverse across a broad drainage. Beyond a signed junction with the
climbers' trail, the main trail resumes climbing and passes a scenic
viewpoint before finishing at a gazebo on the summit. It took us
less than three hours to climb to the top from the main trailhead.
Zosia studies the information posted at the main trailhead. Here is a more extensive view of Stuart Lake which
actually extends well beyond what is visible here.
After taking an extended break at the summit, Zosia and I wandered a little further north to get an unobstructed view to the northeast before backtracking to the gazebo. A hiker from Vancouver arrived at the summit just as we were about to leave, and we chatted briefly with him--Dave was his name--before commencing our descent and returning to the junction with the climbers' trail. Although the information kiosk warns that the climbers' trail is dangerously steep in places, we decided to take a chance and go see for ourselves. Soon after we started down the climbers' trail, Dave caught up to us, and we ended up finishing the hike together. As it turned out, our descent was easier than expected. The climbers' trail is in just as good shape as the main trail, and the only "dangerously steep" section is where the trail is a bit eroded for the last few metres before the trailhead. Upon reaching the paved road, we turned left and easily walked back to the main trailhead to complete our loop.
Most of the hike up Mount Pope is on a
well-maintained forested trail.
Zosia stops at a viewpoint about
two-thirds of the way up the mountain. The town of Fort St.
James is visible just beyond the forested ridge at centre.
A gazebo sits atop Mount Pope.
The gazebo is securely anchored to the
top of the mountain by several steel cables.
Zosia and Sonny stand near the summit
of Mount Pope (1466 metres) with Stuart Lake behind them.
Zosia signs the summit register.
Sitting to the east is Murray Ridge
(right) which is the site of a local ski resort.
A clearing slightly north of the
summit grants an unobstructed view of Pinchi Lake. A sliver of
Tezzeron Lake is also visible further north.
Zosia takes an alternative (climbers')
The climbers' trail passes some rock
The lower part of the climbers'
trail passes through private property.
Distance: 14.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 6 hours 36 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 825 metres
Zosia studies the information posted at the main trailhead.
Here is a more extensive view of Stuart Lake which actually extends well beyond what is visible here.