Summit Elevation (m): 1488
Trip Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 350
Round Trip Time (hrs): 2.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 11
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: An easy trail up Two Pines from Center Ave. From Two Pines to Last Break is surprisingly bushy and confusing with a number of ridges and hills to navigate. NOTE: You are trespassing if you continue to Last Break from Two Pines and descend the way I did via the Wintergreen Ski Hill. I didn’t see the “No Trespassing” sign until I got to the bottom of the hill and it was too late to go back but you should NOT carry on from Two Pines or hike at the Wintergreen Ski Hill without express permission from the relevant landowners.
Technical Rating: TL2; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
Tuesday, April 28 2020 was a gorgeous day. I decided that it was time I tackle the infamous “Two Pines & Last Break” hike near Bragg Creek. I’ve been resistant to doing this hike so far through the Covid-19 pandemic that’s ripping across the globe this spring. The reason for my reluctance was simple. The town of Bragg Creek was asking folks to stay away as they were trying to deal with the pandemic and didn’t need tons of outsiders crowding their sidewalks on the weekends. Many of my friends did the hike / ski earlier this year but I didn’t feel right about it. I decided to wait until the hype died down a bit and do it after work when things dried out and I could easily hike with minimal gear.
As I stepped out of my truck in Bragg Creek I noted how quiet it was. That was a good thing. I hiking along Balsam Avenue over the Elbow River and turned left on Centre Ave. I didn’t have a track for Two Pines so I looked for a trail in the ditch across the road as I walked. You can see by my track above that I walked a bit too far and had to turn back. I followed a faint trail through the ditch and up into light forest from the road. The trail was less defined than I expected but it was plenty obvious once I was on it. I was expecting a Prairie Mountain level of destruction but that was not the case.
Within 30 minutes of leaving the parking lot in Bragg Creek I was already at the summit of Two Pines! Views were surprisingly good to the west. Honestly, you should just sit on the bench here, enjoy the views and have a nice beverage and then head back down. There is very little reason to continue to Last Break other than being a silly peakbagger who can’t resist an after work “twofer”. Two Pines is totally worth the short and easy hike from town – I highly recommend it if you’re a hiker and in the area.
As I alluded to above, the traverse to Last Break (Lyon Mountain) from Two Pines was surprisingly manky. I should caveat this statement with a comment that there might be a trail that I missed. I started down a trail from the summit of Two Pines but it deviated east almost right away and I didn’t trust it was going where I wanted. I have a pretty good head for directions but still found myself getting off course quite easily in the moderately thick forest and many bumps and ridges along the way to Last Break. A deep and fast stream surprised me along the way but a large tree fallen across it saved me from a chilly knee deep wade across. I’m still very surprised at the lack of a trail between Two Pines and Lyon Mountain.
Finally I found myself on the south end of Last Break and picked my way slowly up Aspen forest towards the summit. There were no views from where the summit was marked on my map so I decided to push on a bit further north. I realized as I approached a tower and semi-bald hill that I was now at the top of the Wintergreen Ski Hill. Views were not that impressive – certainly not compared to Two Pines! This ski resort used to be known as the “Lyon Mountain Ski Hill” and sported 190 meters of vertical with 4 lifts and 11 runs. It is now owned by the RCR group and the Wintergreen Golf Course is located nearby.
My original plan was to return from Last Break to Two Pines because I didn’t want to trespass on RCR’s Wintergreen property. The problem was that the bushwhack wasn’t that pleasant or straightforward and now I could see a very easy exit that a friend had taken earlier in the year via Township Road 234 and Wintergreen Drive back to Bragg Creek. It was too tempting so I went for it. I didn’t know for sure that I was trespassing until I got to the bottom of the small ski hill where there were signs posted.
The trudge back along 234 and Wintergreen Drive took longer than expected but it was a gorgeous spring evening so I didn’t mind. Too bad I don’t have $1.3 million lying around – there’s a nice shack for sale at the Wintergreen Golf Course.
The reason there is not a trail from Two Pines to Lyon mountain is because once you go a short way down the back of Two Pines you are on private property. There is a barbed wire fence indicating the boundary. On your map the private property begins shortly north of the word Two Pines – so on the entire bushwhack part of the trail to Wintergreen you are trespassing. Just a heads up that Two Pines is a small environmental reserve and there are no bathrooms and there are no public washrooms in Bragg Creek. Parking in the Bragg creek shopping Centre is also illegal unless you are using the shops – as is indicated on the sign in the parking lot.