The Coquihalla Summits recreation area is on of BCs most fantastic access points for incredible hiking and backcountry skiing. Coquihalla Mountain itself is tucked a bit further away to the south along with its companion peaks Jim Kelly, Spiral, Illal and Elephant Mountain. A daytrip or backcountry camping adventure to this location is absolutely recommended. The area is less frequently visited and has a more remote and peaceful atmosphere.
The signature adventure is the traverse of Coquihalla Mountain which is a long ridge that can be carefully scrambled across. The trek does not specifically require mountaineering equipment but has several class 3 scrambling sections or even more difficult depending on the route chosen.
A journey to the area is normally not complete with out a scramble up Jim Kelly mountain. The approach up this pointy mountain is much easier and less technical than Coquihalla Mountain. To complete the trio of nearby mountains, there is Illal Peak which serves wonderful views of Jim Kelly and Coquihalla as well as other familiar peaks in the area like Needle, Yak, Thar, Zoa, Vicuna, Alpaca and other favourites in the Coquihalla area.
Illal Mountain also has a picturesque lake at the bottom which makes for a wonderful backcountry camping location.
The traditional access point starts on the Coquihalla highway (HWY5) at Britton Creek Rest Stop between Merritt and Hope BC. From here take the well maintained Tulameen FSR for 19.5km where the road crosses Illal Creek. Just past the bridge there is a suitable area to park several vehicles. The hike begins along Illal Creek and only takes a couple hours to reach the plateau below the mountains. Three hours is plenty of time to reach the base of the peaks or a suitable camp location at one of the lakes.
There is an alternate access point which makes use of the Gardiner Trail. This route requires a bit of research as it also combines some walking on abandoned logging roads. The Gardiner Trail passes by Spiral and Elephant peak, adding 2 more potential climbs to the journey