Distance: 12.5 km
Elevation gain: 870 m Route map
The third hike of our trip to the David Thompson corridor was an ascent of the southeastern end of Mount Stelfox, referred to locally and in the David Thompson Hiking Guide as Coral Ridge. There aren’t many reports on this peak, but I did find good information on Bob Spirko’s website
, both of which gave me a pretty good idea as to the general ascent route.
Our hike started in the Coral Creek parking lot, located immediately north of the Cline River bridge. A wide trail departed from here, paralleling the Cline River (but far from it) before turning sharply to head along Coral Creek. The directions I had were to follow the trail for 4 km to a “viewpoint” of the Coral Creek gorge and to then turn off into the forest and bushwhack up the ridge, but after just 3.2 km we reached an obvious horse trail heading in the direction we wanted to go. We followed this for mere meters before we left it, following very sporadic flagging and cairns up the ridge. It didn’t take long for us to lose whatever bit of trail we were following, but we simply continued up while trending to the right. The slope steepened considerably as we gained elevation and we were very thankful it remained in the shade for nearly the entire ascent.
Eventually the forest thinned and afforded a view of the rocky summit ridge, which we easily ascended to its crest and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Abraham Lake. As we continued along the ridge to the highpoint we encountered a lot of slabby terrain, but by sticking to the crest of the ridge it was never more than an easy scramble. The highpoint of the ridge was sparsely treed and didn’t afford as nice of panorama as further back along the ridge, but a few of the bigger trees did provide shade for our lunch.
On the way back I tried to take a more direct line back to the main trail, but the lay of the land kept funneling us in the wrong direction and eventually I just gave up and headed back to our ascent route, roughly following it and a bit of trail I found in the middle of nowhere. It was near noon by this point and absolutely sweltering hot, so we stopped at a spring about a kilometer from the truck to cool off, then bought ice cream at the David Thompson Resort a short distance east of the Cline River.