Perley Rock – Rogers Pass – Glacier National Park – Hiking British Columbia

 

The hike to Perley Rock and beyond in Glacier National Park, BC, is pure magic.

 

 

Mélanie and I will hike about 13 kilometers (8 miles) return to the 2,412 meter (7,913 ft) summit of Perley Rock at the north-east edge of the Illecillewaet NévéPerley Rock is arguably one of the more challenging hikes in Glacier National Park.

Perley Rock is named for H. A. Perley who managed the Glacier House Hotel which, in its day, rivaled Canadian Pacific Railway accommodation at the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise now managed by Fairmont Hotels.  Glacier House was removed in 1929.  Easily accessible foundations remain along the wide, flat, 1.2 KM, 1885 Abandoned Rails interpretive route between Asulkan Brook and Illecillewaet campgrounds near the Alpine Club of Canada's A. O. Wheeler Hut.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC

 

The trail begins gently through lush, cool forest, before gradually increasing in intensity over 20+ reasonable switchbacks within the first 2.4 KM (1.5 miles) until reaching the Mount Sir Donald / Perley Rock trail junction.  Along the way there are spectacular views of the valley behind and the glaciers above accompanied by the constant roar of massive waterfalls created by glacial melt on a very warm, humid day as the sun rises over surrounding mountains.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC

Vaux Falls from the Vaux Glacier with Mount Sir Donald looming above.

 

At the trail junction, the next 3.2 KMs (2 miles) are a series of 67 brutal switchbacks of varying length and intensity on steep and difficult terrain.  Hiking on very steep terrain is verifiable when occupancy on one switchback provides no evidence of switchbacks below or above.  Altitude gain is aggressive but the positive compensation is the awesome view of waterfalls, mountains and glaciers unfolding in escalating and magnificent splendor. 

The Perley Rock hike is a visual extravaganza which allows the heart-thumping, gut-crunching hike to proceed more easily.  Before crossing the bridge over Vaux Glacier Creek there is a beautiful, trail-side waterfall created by melt from the Vaux Glacier (pronounced Vox) adjacent to and above the trail.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC

Perley Rock - Glacier National Park, BC Looking back through the valley we have hiked into and above.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Crossing Vaux Creek on the way to Perley Rock in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada.

 

The 3,284 m (10,774 ft) summit of Mount Sir Donald is visible above the waterfall in crystal-clear skies.  The hike ascends above the tree-line through rocky terrain, where performing a short, somewhat precarious scramble, carefully across the top of a snow slope precludes making the final rocky scramble to the summit cairn on Perley Rock.

 

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Abbott Ridge is fully visible to the west.  A short hike and bouldering exercise on top of Perley Rock provides spectacular views of the turquoise, glacial pond at the base of the north end of the massive Illecillewaet Névé.  WOW!

The immediate and unanimous decision requires adding a couple of kilometers to the hike for lunch on the shore of the pond at the edge of the glacier, so the scramble off-trail from the summit begins, down and over scree, talus and huge boulders, for an hour of cool relief from the glacier before beginning the hike back via  same route taken in.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC

 

The steep down route requires careful negotiation.  Sun has come around and the heat is noticeable.  Waterfall volume has increased substantially.  The 67 switchbacks to the trail junction would be virtually impenetrable in inclement weather.  The hike is spectacular under clear skies with predominantly dry trail conditions.

 

Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock - Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock – Rogers Pass, BC Perley Rock – Rogers Pass, BC

 

Many photographs are captured throughout the long day but still photos cannot remotely do justice to the perpetually sweeping vistas.  Photo credits are shared.  It is commonplace for us to swap cameras.   Mélanie is a skilled photographer who possesses a much better eye for form, function and detail.

Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass is a place of contrast and well-preserved, rich Canadian history about the fascinating and inspiring development of the Canadian West in the late 1800's.  There are many short, flat loop interpretative trails at the edge of the TransCanada Highway which offer absorbing insight into unique, local flora and fauna.  Some are wheelchair accessible.  Guided tours are provided to fill in detail which might otherwise be missed. 

The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is a gold mine of information loaded with explanatory, multi-media presentations.  Many trails in the park are aggressive, requiring above average physical conditioning and significant hiking experience. Sensory rewards are absolutely incredible. 

Perley Rock is an aggressive hike and a phenomenal experience destined to become a life-long indelible memory.

 

 

 

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Comments

The Asulkan Valley Trail, like most trails in Canada's Glacier National Park, will have the same characteristics. I suggest you research the Revelstoke area and consult your accommodation provider and local Park Visitor Information Centres at arrival. There will be plenty of lower elevation opportunities in the immediate vicinity. As far as Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass is concerned, if there is early warming, Balu Pass might be accessible with a left turn, probably through snow to excellent views of the Illecillewaet Nevé. It is a spectacular sight. Local assistance when you get there will unveil the best opportunities for the region. Long term predictability is unreliable in the mountains. Good luck. Thanks for the comment. You will be in black bear and grizzly bear country. It is highly unlikely you will see any but I hope you get a sighting at safe range. It is sensible for you to brush up on your bear aware skills. You simply need to let them know where you are so they have the opportunity to get out of the area. Bells do not cut it. I do not advocate their use.

Aww that's a shame I'd really like to hike up there. What about Asulkan Valley trail? I have a feeling it might also be too risky? I'm not sure how the elevations compare. Our plans is to stay in Halcyon Hot Springs in Nakusp (near Revelstoke). Are there any other hikes with fantastic views you'd recommend?

Thank you for your comment, Josh. I am going to to go out on a limb here in spite of the fact that predicting mountain snow conditions is fool's play. Personally, I would not consider hiking Perley Rock in May. Given the elevation, I would expect heavy snow and possibly significant avalanche risk, combined with massive runoff to lower elevations. The end of June could be very risky. There are many switchbacks on steep trail. I would pick late August, early September, for the right experience. Having said that, it is always unknown until close to the time. Dramatic deviations can happen. The window of reasonable opportunity is relatively small for the views available on my post. Check with the Visitor Centre. Discovery Centre at Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada closer to your time. Check trail conditions which are updated regularly in hiking season. Stay safe. It is an incredible hike. There are several world class hikes in Canada's Glacier National Park which could be considered aggressive and rugged by the standards of other countries. If you cannot do it this year, it is well worth planning at another time. Accomodation is at the local Campgrounds and in Revelstoke or Golden, B.C.

Hi there! I'm seriously considering doing this hike with a group of friends. The views look absolutely amazing! I don't mind how strenuous the hike is; my concern is safety. What are the snow conditions like? We would be doing this during Victoria Day long weekend in May.

Thank you for your comment, Dave. <strong>Perley Rock</strong> is a great, <strong>long-day</strong> hike. The effort is high but <strong>the risk reward ratio is higher</strong>. Perley Rock in Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass in British Columbia is a phenomenal experience best done in fair weather. I would not want to do the steep downside switchbacks from Perley Rock on wet, slippery trail. You are right. The roar of the magnificent Illecillewaet River and its tributaries and waterfalls is unforgettable. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad you were able to do the hike to Perley Rock. One of your best suggestions is the time taken to enjoy the incredible views. It will remain on my list as one of the best hikes I have ever done.

We did the hike to Perley Rock on 24 August 2010. Although we quite like walking, we have not much experience with elevation, coming from Holland. We tried this hike in 2006 but stopped at about two thirds of the way as it became clear we had started too late to make it up and back down in time. We promised each other that we would come back and get to the top. And so 4 years later we were ready on the morning of the 24th, determined to get to the top of Perley Rock this time. The hike is exactly as you describe it. It took us 5 hours to get up (of which my GPS said we moved 2 and a half hours and stood still the other time - to catch our breath and enjoy the view) With only two and half hours down it was faster but still quite an effort. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and we'll never forget the moment we saw the gently curved Illecillewaet Icefield shining in the sun for the first time. We were treated to a solemn moment at the peak by "local" Wells J, who had overtaken us on the way up and gave us the strength to overcome the last bit of the track, where it wasn't very clearly marked. It was one of those moments that you'll never forget and looking back is by far the best memory of three holidays in BC and the rockies. Who knows we might hear the Illecillewaet rush down again. Reading your trail reports and looking back at the pictures is as close as we'll get in the near future. Thanks for that.

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