- Selkirk Mountains
- Snow Lake, Bottleneck Lake
- Excellent on trails, but Bottleneck Peak is a bushwhack and the Bottleneck Lake side is densely overgrown.
Following an old forest road, trail #185 starts out easy enough, climbing rather gradually for about a mile to the fork between Snow and Bottleneck Lakes. The choice is yours, but the bushwhack on the Bottleneck side is a whole lot easier going downhill than uphill. So take left and continue on the old forest road through fir and spruce to Snow Lake, about 3 miles from the fork. The trail crosses Snow Creek a couple of times, both easy crossings, with the second one, just ahead of the lake, benefiting from a newly-installed boardwalk. The last mile on that section is also much more open, impacted by the 1967 Sundance Fire, but views of the lake are really not possible until you’re virtually upon it. From afar you see only a nameless mountain, which looms over the lake, and since it shares the basic shape with Roman Nose to the south, we’ll call this “Little” Roman Nose.
At the lake (stocked with cutthroat) you’ll find several pretty campsites and you’ll get a good view of the hillside about to be ascended to the ridge leading to Bottleneck Peak. This hillside is very open and comparatively easy to climb, with the huckleberries and other shrubbery at their worst just a couple feet deep. The elevation gain is about 700 feet up to the ridge, and then another 300 feet uphill along the ridge to Bottleneck Peak. That bare-granite peak offers grandiose views across the Pack River valley to Harrison Peak, the Beehive and Harrison Lake cirques (but you can’t see the actual lakes), and prominent Chimney Rock. To the south you’ll see Roman Nose and “Little” Roman Nose and the ridge that burned during the 1967 fire. At the foot of Bottleneck Peak lies its namesake lake, far below.
For the descent you get to choose between two ridges, one heading north, the other east. We picked the northern one, which required a bit of climbing to get down (Naughty wasn’t too eager, but she made it). The scramble along that ridge is easy, but the descent to Upper Bottleneck Lake is thickly overgrown and rather tedious. There were no obvious campsites at the upper lake, nor, to our chagrin, any established trails to the lower lake. That required another bushwhack, and Bottleneck Creek offered the path of least resistance.
Lower Bottleneck Lake sat rather prettily in its cirque, nestled against Bottleneck Peak to the south and offered a number of excellent camping opportunities. From the lake, the trail heads out as a single-track, but soon enough widens once again as it takes over a former logging road. It just slightly touches on Corner Creek during the descent, a spot where an avalanche or landslide ripped a gouge into the forest (you can actually see where you’ll end up on trail #185 below). The trail then turns south one last time and soon merges with the Snow Lake trail. Head out the way you came in.