South of Revelstoke, B.C., on the east side of the Columbia River, lies Sproat Mountain. Part of the Selkirk Mountains, its commanding view of Upper Arrow Lake, the Columbia River and surrounding mountain ranges made it the perfect location for a forestry lookout.
As modern technology overtook the need for a ranger to be stationed on a remote mountaintop, the lookout on top of Sproat was shut down and left defunct.
Luckily for off-roaders, the Revelstoke ATV Club took over the lookout and now keeps the building and road maintained. Due to mountain caribou habitat, and in some years, snow, the trail is not opened until July 1. The season on Sproat lasts until the snow falls, which is usually mid-October.
How to get there
The Sproat Mountain trail is located approximately 55 kilometres south of Revelstoke at the end of a logging road. Navigating the logging roads can be somewhat tricky. A backroads mapbook or a local tour guide can help a lot.
Most people stage from the Akolkolex Forest Service Road (FSR) 20 kilometres south of town on the east side of the Columbia River. Follow the Akolkolex FSR past the Akolkolex River. A short side trip to view Akolkolex Falls is well worth some time too.
Eventually, you will come to a four-way intersection. The left (uphill) branch goes to McRae, a popular hiking and skiing location. The right (downhill branch) continues towards Sproat. From this point it is still quite a ways to the trailhead, but in general, stay on the most well travelled road.
The trail to the Sproat Mountain lookout offers fantastic view of the Selkirk Mountains. — Steve Shannon Photography
What the ride is like
From the trailhead, it is another seven kilometres to the lookout. The decommissioned road starts out in the forest, then opens into huge, south-facing avalanche paths before climbing a ridge to the alpine summit. Please stay on the designated route and help preserve this fragile environment for all to enjoy.
The trail is all two-track (dirt bike-, ATV- and UTV-friendly) but by no means is it an easy ride. It is best for intermediate and advanced riders who are used to loose rocks, rutted roads, steep hills and switchbacks. Don’t be turned off by the remote access and difﬁcult trail, though, as the views from the summit are well worth the effort.
It doesn’t get any better than this: a sunset view of Arrow Lake. Steve Shannon Photography. — Steve Shannon Photography
The reward is at the top
Once at the lookout, park in the designated area and take in the beautiful views of the Columbia River Valley and both the Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges. See if you can spot the Shelter Bay ferry far below, taking weary travellers across Arrow Lake.
The lookout is open to the public and worth looking around in. Sign your name in the log book, then for a side trip, you can follow a hiking trail to the summit of Sproat Mountain a few kilometres away.
On the way back down, enjoy beautiful views of Beaton Arm and Galena Bay as you retrace your tracks back towards Revelstoke and more opportunities for adventure.