There are some fantastic hiking trails at the Panorama Mountain Ski Resort near Invermere in East Kootenay, Canada. In the summer, the ski-lifts are re-purposed to carry up mountain bikes and hikers, so there are trails that you can reach without needing to climb up the lower part of the mountain. Just make sure you pick up a map if you decide to hike here, as walkers should avoid the bike trails. The resort is nestled in the Purcell Mountain Range, where wilderness stretches off in every direction, so no matter where you look, you’ll see spectacular mountain views.
We did this hike when I was still in pain from falling and smashing my knee the previous day. We didn’t plan to climb to the top of Panorama Mountain – but the views from the Panorama Summit trail were sooo pretty, that somehow I managed it, even with a gammy knee.
Panorama Summit trail map (ish)
Ask for a summer trail map from the kiosk when you buy your ticket for the chairlift. After we started hiking I noticed that although the trail is obvious on the ground; It’s not on maps like Maps Me or All Trails. Once I noticed that, I pressed record on my phone…so you can sort of see the route we took below. We ran on the way down, so this recording isn’t very accurate! This map is a bit better.
Panorama Summit trail – The basics
Distance: 9.6 km
Elevation gain: 930 m
Highest Point: 2370 m
Time: 3.5-4.5 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Trekking poles are helpful for this hike.
Bear spray (although most other hikers didn’t seem to carry it here)
Everything you could need – loos, a chairlift, restaurants with ice-cream etc.
There is a loo at the summit as well.
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? The resort lists this hike as difficult, but I think it’s more intermediate (if you’re not injured!) It is steep, but there is an easy to follow path and no scrambling.
Panorama Summit trail – getting started
First you need to get to the lovely Panorama Mountain resort near Invermere in the Columbia Valley. There was plenty of free parking, and the resort is quite small, so it’s easy to find the Mile 1 Quad Chairlift (that starts running at 10am.) You can hike the whole way from the base of this lift; It’ll add 1.6 km and 369m elevation gain (as well as a a smug feeling) to the hike. We took the chairlift and followed signs for the Panorama Summit trail.
Once you’ve found the right path, you can just follow the wide service road all the way to the summit. The surrounding mountains are lush and green, and the grassy ski slopes allow you to look out to the fantastic views of the Purcell Mountains.
Is Panorama Mountain busy in the summer?
Now I am used to the busy trails on the West coast of BC, it was lovely to hike at Panorama Mountain! There were other hikers on this trail, but not many, which is mad when you see how beautiful it is!
After the first part of the walk in the trees, the trail goes under the Champagne chairlift, where you’ll have views for miles!
You can’t really tell from my photos, but the trail has some very steep sections. This was a bit of a shock to the system after all the recent hikes we did in Canadian National Parks! This makes the trail to Panorama Mountain’s summit a real workout, even with the help of that first ski lift! The section in my photo below was so steep I found it tough to even run down it.
Look for wild strawberries!
I was climbing pretty slowly on the steep sections (I can use my ouchy knee as an excuse – but it was mostly because I was out of breath!) But I noticed a fantastic reason to stop and take little breaks! If you look carefully there are loads of wild strawberries growing on the grassy areas of the trail. They are often right by the main path, so you don’t need to trample the flowers. I found more and more as we ascended the mountain.
Champagne Chairlift to the summit
Once you’ve made it to the top of the Champagne chairlift you have two choices; You can hike directly up the “top of the world” ski run. Or, you can take a longer, shallow path that has easy switchbacks up the mountain. Marc felt like challenging himself, so he went straight up! I don’t think I could have managed that route while injured, so I opted for the easy way.
For the easier (longer) route just follow the blue signs that say “easiest way down”. With Marc off, I took my time, eating strawberries, taking photos and admiring the views.
This is the part of the walk where I took post of the panoramas (scroll down to the end of the post to see them). The mountain is called Panorama Mountain after all – it definitely lived up to the name with all these views.
You can see, this part of the route is not steep at all. It was much easier for me to hike despite my painful knee!
I have to admit, I had been a bit disappointed when I woke up that morning hardly able to walk around our camp site. I was not expecting to be able to see any alpine views! So, I was soooo happy to see the roof of the Panorama Summit Lodge!
Panorama Summit Lodge
The lodge was closed, BUT they left comfortable chairs out on the patio, so it was the perfect spot to stop for a late lunch. It looks like such a sweet, cozy lodge – I bet it is a fantastic spot to stop for lunch if you ski here.
There is also a loo with a view if you need to use the facilities. (Woot – one for my collection)
The highest point
The best views are close to the Summit Lodge, but we noticed that the highest part of Panorama Mountain was a little further along Outback Ridge. We popped over there to see views in the other direction. It turns out the ridge links Panorama Mountain with several other mountains, including Mount Goldie. I am keen to return and go a little further along these ridge walks next time!
On this occasion, I was just happy that we’d managed to climb a mountain!
Panorama Summit – heading down
There are a couple of different routes you can take to loop back down the mountain. We decided we’d prefer to go back the way we came, so we could descend on the chairlift. Hiking up took us 1 hour and 45 minutes. The only problem was, when we checked the time, we only had about an hour and ten minutes before the chairlift closed for the day.
So, we did what any crazy mountain lover would – we ran the whole way back down the mountain. This worked out really well, as I didn’t need to bend my injured knee so much. Plus running seems to put less pressure on knees anyway, so it was far less painful than walking.
We stopped a couple of times for photos, and then because this beeeautiful buck was watching us with bemusement as we jogged past. We figured we should walk past anyone with antlers that big! In the end, it took less than an hour to zoom back to the Mile 1 chairlift. We were some of the last people to ride down the mountain; But we made it!
We finished our hike with ice-cream at the Panorama Mountain Resort. We still had plenty of time to head back to our campsite to make a fire, cook and watch the sunset. I had not expected to hike in this part of the Rockies, but I am so glad my poorly knee led us to explore in this beautiful area.
Panoramas from the Panorama Summit trail
I think this might be the most appropriate place for me to post Panoramas! The views were fantastic – and even included some beautiful wilderness areas that were not so scarred by logging or fires.
You never know what you might find in the Candian Rockies. Panorama Mountain may be off the main tourist route through Canadian National Parks, but it is still an incredible area to explore. I hope you like the look of it, Please click on the pins below to save them.