The entire Moose River Route (about 40 miles) goes from a trailhead about 40 miles east of the Berg Lake Trail
trailhead, on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16), to Berg Lake Trail
at the British Columbia/Alberta border. However, this trail description is only about the Moose River Route section from the Smoky River crossing to Moose Pass.
This trail starts with the Smoky River ford that can range from easy when the water is low - ankle to calf deep, to treacherous with high water levels such as waist level or possibly higher. Water levels are usually lower by the end of August when the winter snow melt has subsided. However, even then, they will typically be lower in the morning and higher in the afternoon due to glacier melt during the day. Water levels are also higher after rains. Regardless of water level, the current is swift. Best to use trekking poles when crossing such fast flowing water.
Beginning on the southwest side of the Smoky River, the trail crosses the river at a flagged crossing, from a cairn at the end of a big log on the southwest side, to a hikers sign on the northeast side. However, to ford the river where the water is lower, head downstream along the gravel flats about 0.25 mile to where the river has spread out and is shallower, as described by Moose River Route: Smoky River Crossing Alternate
After crossing the Smoky River, there is a trail junction with Coleman Glacier Trail
. Go left here to enter the dense fir forest and begin climbing a forested ridge. After about 0.8 miles, one can hear Calumet Creek, a large tributary of the Smoky River, below. However, still in the thick forest, Calumet Creek can not be seen yet. From here, the trail follows Calumet Creek all the way to the Moose Pass meadows, where the creek's headwaters cascade down from the snow and glaciers of the surrounding peaks.
After about 1.8 miles, still in the forest, the trail levels out. Another 0.3 miles later, the trail emerges from the forest into a broad, mile long wet meadow with Calumet Creek running the length of the meadow. Many side streams flow through this meadow into Calumet Creek. At the meadow's edge, almost immediately, it is easy to lose the trail. Actually, there may not be a true trail here, just paths that others have taken. DO NOT CROSS CALUMET CREEK in this meadow. Angle for the forest on the south side of the meadow to pick up the trail about half way through the meadow. This can vary, but definitely by 3/4 of the way through the meadow one should be on trail at the forest's edge on the south side of the meadow, with Calumet Creek next to the trail on the left (north).
Now on good trail, leaving the big, wet meadow behind and re-entering the fir forest, Calumet Creek Horse Camp on the banks of Calumet Creek, is passed. From here, the trail climbs continually to Moose Pass. The forest thins into meadows dotted with firs, and finally into the most beautiful, treeless meadows surrounded by rugged mountains of Calumet Ridge with their snow and glaciers, peaks to the east and south also, as Calumet Creek runs through the meadows.
From Moose Pass, one can continue on Moose River Route, down the other side of the pass into the remote, wild Moose River Valley (not described here).
This is a segment of the GDT (Great Divide Trail)