Like most Rossland trails, this one is multi-use... please note that the moderate rating (and time required) is for foot traffic only, the descent via KC ridge is a black diamond bike route. This is a popular, short lolipop loop to the top of Kootenay Columbia mountain, overlooking Rossland and the Columbia valley. On a day with low-lying cloud, the scenario from the peak is exquisite.
The trail begins at the Happy Valley trailhead and follows the main trail for a short time before a major fork. Take the left (straight) fork for about 10mins to the next fork, featuring one trail carrying on (unnamed) and another shooting uphill to the left (Kootenay Columbia: KC). Follow the left fork to yet another fork some 10 mins further on, this one signed 'Milky Way' ahead and downward, or 'KC' upward and to the left. Again, stay left for about 50m until another sudden fork. This is where the loop comes together.
The right trail (Back of KC) is wide and features a gentle grade upward, the left trail (KC Ridge) is steep, loose and technical if riding or skiing. Bikers tend to go up on the right and descend via the ridge - keep your head up if you choose to hike UP the ridge during bike season.
Taking the trail to the right, in about 10-15 minutes you'll find yourself at yet another spur - straight on is KC (leading to another parking lot) while uphill to the left is Back of KC (leading to the summit). From here it is another 10-15 minutes to the very top (there is one more fork, the left is rocky and steeper, the right is boot-beaten and gentler, but both meet at the top).
Look for a hand-made branch bench at the top, or enjoy a fire pit in the winter. Directly below is Happy Valley, Rossland is a little to the right, Red Mountain is obvious on your far right, and the hideous Cominco factory mars the view below and to the left (but you don't have to look that way). You can now descend via the ridge trail, which is quite obvious once you reach the lip of the peak. It features tight, steep switchbacks on loose soil in a quick descent, then the path curves back into the trees to the left to meet up again with the 'Back of' trail about 20mins from the top. Return the way you came and you'll be back at the parking area in a total round-trip of approx 1.5 hours.
The ridge trail is not well-marked, so it is not recommended after fresh snow in the winter if you are not familiar with it. In dry seasons, the boot path is very easy to discern.
From Rossland main street at the flashing light (Columbia & St. Paul), go north (uphill) on St. Paul to 4th Avenue and hang a right. Follow 4th all the way down to a 'y" intersection at the lip of Happy Valley and take a left. Stay right through the next two 'y' intersections. In summer, the gate to the upper parking area is closed, but there are vehicle pull-outs along the road (the nearest being about 70m from the gate and featuring a 'no parking beyond this point' sign). In the winter, continue on through the gate and park at the large parking area 100m beyond (it has a detailed trail map).
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