The snow melt is a month or more behind schedule as the true hiking season kicks off in 2022. Most of the more interesting hiking trails and peaks remain snow bound, so I decided to do a relatively quick and easy trip to Ironstone Lookout in the Crowsnest Pass. This trip is included in Andrew Nugara’s Popular Day Hikes: The Castle and Crowsnest. Bob Spirko also reported on his ascent back in 2015 (he also climbed it on June 6, as it turns out). Spirko was up-front about the journey itself being a little lack-lustre, but he views from the top looked great, so I decided to give it a shot. His ascent was on a day with better weather than mine, so definitely check out his post to see the potential rewards of climbing to this lookout on a clear day.
Access is via the York Creek Staging area south of Coleman. I outlined how to get there in my Mount Coulthard post so you can reference that for directions. Instead of parking before the yellow bridge, this time I kept driving to a point about 600 meters short of intersection 109. By that point the road was getting too rough for my tastes so I parked at a clearing and set off walking along the ATV path. At intersection 109 I took the left fork, then took the left fork again at the next intersection 800 meters later. From that point there was no further navigation required and I followed the trail all the way to the lookout. The ascent only took about 1h 40m.
The trail itself was not particularly exciting, but it wasn’t too long before views to the west opened up and there were expansive views towards Mount Coulthard and other peaks in the Flathead Range. The weather wasn’t great, with lots of low cloud, but that added a charm of its own to the views. Part of the way up I encountered “Sarah’s Bench”. Spirko got some information about this from a local man – Sarah Thompson was a former fire lookout and the bench is named for her. The bench sits in a serene little clearing beside the trail.
Aside from some gates, there really isn’t much else aside from Sarah’s Bench to look out for on the route. There’s the option to follow the ridge north from the summit to a lower northern summit but I opted not to, given that the views wouldn’t be much better from there.
Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.