Mt. Swansea is one of the more popular hiking trails in the Invermere region being close to town with fabulous views of the Columbia Valley. It is one of the first hikes to be free of snow in the spring. The main trail to the upper parking lot has a fairly constant grade on a well-defined trail, which makes it suitable for most family members. This trail is also used by mountain bikers as an “up track” to access numerous ‘downhill’ mountain bike trails. You may encounter bikers riding up this shared trail, but never down. Hikers of course can use the trail up or down. Weekends, as you would expect, are the busiest especially with the mountain bikers.
The main trailhead is accessed from the Windermere Loop Road but please use caution when crossing the active mine road. The parking lot is 100-120 meters past the mine road with the trailhead on the right. There is a rough 4-wheel drive road that goes almost to the top where you will find a small parking area. From here, the summit trail is a short 10-25 minute hike to the peak.
There are a few variations that can be done on Swansea rather than an up-and-back hike. There is a 6 km round trip hike by taking the main trial to the communication towers sign, where you go to the left for a short loop the comes back to the main trail. If you are going to the peak on the main trail it is approximately 13 km round trip and a 745 meter elevation gain. Once at the top you can retrace your steps or descend on the south ridge trail which will add a kilometer on a much rougher trail and eventually connecting with the main trail. Allow 3-6 hours for a round trip to the peak.
There are numerous vantage points along the way that provide spectacular views of the Invermere and the Columbia Valley. Keep your eye open for grouse and wild flowers on the way. Once on at the top you may be lucky enough to witness a paraglider launching to catch the thermals from the valley below.
While this is close to town, you should be aware of a few things: advise someone of your hike, wear suitable footwear and clothing, have a pack with food and water (there is no water on Mt. Swansea), always check for ticks (tick season is March to June), and for your safety never hike the mountain bike downhill trails. Enjoy your time in the mountains.