Village of Radium Hot Springs residents refer to the hill across Sinclair Valley as 'Brown Hill' because the grass is seldom green.
The eye's attention is immediately drawn to the hoodoos centered among steep trail braids along the steep side of a sparsely forested hill across Sinclair Valley. Sinclair Creek flows through the bottom of the valley and, no doubt, seasonal residents staying at the Canyon RV Resort on Sinclair Creek are frequent visitors to the hoodoos.
Access to the hill is a short walk north from the intersection at the center of the Village of Radium Hot Springs where the Banff - Windermere Parkway (Hwy 93) intersects with Kootenay Highway 95 connecting Golden and Cranbrook, BC.
Reference Gem Trek Map ‘Kootenay National Park’ available at most outdoor recreation stores or Map Town for personal shopping and on-line orders.
The west end of Brown Hill offers parking near the signed entrance to the RV Resort. Trail beginning here offers a longer ascent with the perception of more gentle elevation gain near the beginning. No matter which approach is used, it is important to be emotionally prepared for steep ascent along the route. Footwear with an aggressive tread will be an advantage. Within a couple of plateaus the hoodoos are visible in the distance. There is also an interesting alternative to be achieved by continuing ascent to the top and leaving the hoodoos for exploration on the way down. The hill hosts a variety of trail and gravel road opportunities.
Well established trail, with steep segments, leads to the top of the hill while providing spectacular views across Sinclair Valley to Redstreak, Sinclair Canyon, the Village of Radium Hot Springs and west and south to the Purcell Mountains beyond the spectacular expanse of the Columbia River Valley. Unique and independent features lead to good trail heading north across the top of Brown Hill. The main trail clearly traverses along the top of the west side of Sinclair Canyon which will inevitably link into the Juniper Trail that continues through outstanding forest and canyon scenery to Radium Hot Springs.
Returning west, there are spectacular vistas across the valley to the familiar features of the Village of Radium Hot Springs and southwest across the Columbia River Valley to the Purcell Mountains. The steep drop from the top of the hill to the hoodoos motivates an alternate loop hike about half way down the hill followed by a lateral traverse back to the location of the hoodoos.
Clusters of hoodoos stand stubbornly stalwart and eerily segregated in several locations where existing and interconnecting trail provides the opportunity to tour and photograph the independent and unique formations.
Tiny birds on the hill seem comfortable with human presence and some will allow close-up photography.
Hiking west from the location of the hoodoos presents the opportunity to hike the ridge line above Kootenay Highway 95 heading north towards Golden for grand views over the large residential community hovering over the massive CANFOR lumber mill in the expansive valley below. Clear, open trail with expansive views over the valley soon morphs into substantially more rustic and undocumented trail through dense forest, where intuitively chosen options link with a gravel road that pops out near an old abandoned and derelict ranch and corral along Kootenay Highway 95.
The hike along the roadside apron passes the old corral and an electrical distribution substation for the link back to the car parked at the the entrance to The Canyon RV Resort on Sinclair Creek.
Long View to Brown Hill from Rotary Park near the Hwy 95 intersect with Hwy 93
Sinclair Valley, on both sides of Highway 95, offers a wide assortment of excellent and diverse hiking opportunities just a short walking distance from the center of the Village of Radium Hot Springs. One of the main attractions begins at Rotary Park where a long set of stairs descend into Sinclair Valley for the west component of the Sinclair Creek Trail.
All that remains for this day is another fine dining experience at the quaint and iconic 'The Old Salzburg' fully licensed Restaurant and Lounge along the main drag of the Village of Radium Hot Springs. The food here is consistently outstanding and rewarding at the end of a hiking day. The service combined with the quality and quantity of the food far exceeds the incremental cost.
Brown Hill is a prominent feature at the Village of Radium Hot Springs and although this hike was largely photographed on the same day (August 12) as hikes to Sinclair Falls and Lower Bugaboo Falls, the selection of photographs for this post were collected over several days in a wide variety of light conditions. It is worth the time to wander and discover the secrets of Brown Hill even though it is not an obviously published hiking location. Something for everyone.
Photographs of Brown Hill across Sinclair Valley from the Village of Radium Hot Springs were captured in August, 2016 in British Columbia, Canada.