Raft Mountain stands above Clearwater, a pyramid-shaped peak when seen from the valley. We have hiked this 8000 foot mountain a few times, but this last time, we came to traverse the 5 peaks.
To get to the trailhead to Raft Mountain, continue past Clearwater on Highway 5 North for 4 km pst the Visitors Center. Turn left onto the Raft River Forest Service Road (Road #9). At 6.5 km, turn left on the Raft Peak FSR (Road 90 – readio controlled). We encountered active logging on this road. Stay left at 13.3 km (the route to the right crosses Willis Creek, but the bridge was out anyway). The road ahead gets rougher at this point. The parking area is at 15.2 km, but low-clearance vehicles may wish to park sooner and hike the last kilometre. A trail sign can be seen at the parking clearing area with the trail bearing northwest through the trees. Follow flagging tape through sub-alpine forest and emerge onto a steep alpine meadow. Aim northwest to the high shoulder.
At the crest of the shoulder, views extend north to the Trophy Range. The backside of Raft drops steeply down into the Spahats Creek Valley.
Follow the ridge to the peak. The summit is a rocky ridge. Continue a short ways along this ridge to look over the rest of the Raft Range. For those without scrambling experience, look, but don't proceed down. The next section is the most difficult of the whole traverse. There is no trail, nor any correct route. Follow the ridge down, looking for the safest and easiest route, but there are some awkward spots down and then up over the next hill. Some sections are along a narrow ledge, not for the faint-of-heart.
There are 5 summits along the ridge. The route from 1 to 3 is quite difficult, then it gets easier, but it is slow-going all the way, not for the inexperienced. From the summit of the third peak, the route to Raft 5 could be seen ahead.
From Raft 3 to 4 is also slow-going over boulders and steep sections. Views down to the north follow a steep snow-slope to the Cirque of Tarns, to the upper tran, crystal blue, 900 feet below. We had hiked to the edge of the lake in the previous year, looking up at the Raft Peaks.
We had lunch of top of Raft 4, a wide flat-topped rocky hill. Views extended east to the Monashees and the northern Selkirks. A long ridge ran east toward the Raft River Valley. We heard aseries of calls from a wolf pack on the ridge below us.
Ahead was the easier summit of Raft 5, our favorite part of the whole route. The top of Raft 5 was the end of the high ridge traverse.
From Raft 5, we followed the ridgeline south to the treed slopes over Willis Lake, finding a game trail down the steepest slopes to the lake. The best route is probably a chute down from the ridge off the east end of the lake and then a line across the north side of the lake. On our next trip, we will go straight to Willis Lake and look for a good route up to Raft 5 as our destination hike. Willis Lake is a scenic spot below the summits.
A traverse of the 5 summits along the ridge is an all-day, challenging route. The views are superb and there is a variety of challenging and easier terrain, but it is quite a difficult route overall. The summit of Raft 1 is a good route for everyone, but beyond is only for those who enjoy scrambling and adventure and have the experience to know their limits.
- Road 9 and Road 90 junction – go left – N51 39.440 W119 56.625
- KM 13.3 Junction – stay left – N51 42.248 W119 52.042
- Parking lot/trailhead – N51 42.875 W119 52.023
- Raft 1 Summit – N51 43.664 W119 51.674
- Raft 5 Summit – N51 43.548 W119 50.273
- Willis Lake shoreline – N51 43.171 W43.398