Since 2017 makes this Pass is officially part of the Trans Canada Trail and we continue to see an increase of those following the Trail. The views up and down Kootenay Lake and to the west are astonishing. The Baker Creek bridge on the Kimberley side has recently been replaced adding to the safety.
The Gray Creek Pass forestry road to Kimberley
This 85 km scenic back road to the east Kootenays turns off highway 3A at Gray Creek, 20 minutes drive south of the Kootenay Lake Ferry. The Oliver Road turn-off is just a stone’s throw south of the Gray Creek Store, but you can also turn east on Anderson Road, one km south of the store. Both roads meet at a bridge; from here all traffic must continue up a series of switchbacks on Anderson Road, staying on the south of the river. The Gray Creek Forest Service road begins on a sweeping right-hand corner at 1.3 km. (you will see a red stop sign on your left).
Please take time to read the warning signs before proceeding. In the first 15 km. of this trip you will ascend to 2028 meters to the summit of the Purcell Mountains. The route, which can have snow even in August, includes numerous corners and grades of up to 14 percent. There are no emergency services. Travel slowly – this is not a short-cut to the hardtop.
The Gray Creek Forest Service Road offers opportunities for alpine hiking, wildlife viewing, creek fishing, huckleberry picking, picnicking, and photography at numerous spots along the way. Look for Oliver Lake, just before the pass. The forest service has provided picnic tables here, and there is a trail that takes you around the lake. This is a summer road only, usual open from July to October. Look at the map to the right to see how to get there.
When the Gray Creek pass was opened in 1990 all the bridges were wooden and since all except Baker Creek have been replaced with concrete. With this final cement installation ALL bridges are now solid concrete – emphasizing the permanence and importance of this seasonal route.
While this is the shortest route between West and East Kootenay it is not necessarily the quickest as it is a gravel Forest Road with steep grades and rougher surface, but is a scenic route popular with those who enjoy back road experiences. Because of the 6800 foot summit this road Is usually open from July 1st to mid or late October, depending on early snowfalls.