Summit Elevation (m): 2165
Trip Date: May 29 2021
Elevation Gain (m): 800
Round Trip Time (hr): 4
Total Trip Distance (km): 17
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you tripped over your shoelace and sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking up an OHV track with trails the entire way and shortcut tracks around many intermittent bumps
Technical Rating: TL3
In order to take advantage of the long drive to the Upper Clearwater / Ram PLUZ Wietse and I decided that we’d be hiking and scrambling several objectives in the area. We started our day on Onion Peak and had breakfast on the summit of Falls Lookout a few hours later. On our way down from Falls Lookout we realized that our third planned peak might be stretching our time frame a bit. Ram Mountain was a long way from the Hummingbird Creek staging area. We estimated that we had almost an hour to drive to the North Fork road and all the way to the parking spot for Ram, not to mention at least 5 or 6 hours to hike it. On top of this we weren’t even sure of the route! We had a general idea of Cornelius’ route and I had Matt Clay’s track but we didn’t love the sounds of either of those. We decided that we’d do the drive and see what time it was, we could always take headlamps if necessary! It was 15:30 when we finished Falls Lookout and started the long drive towards Ram Mountain.
After a scenic but lengthy drive, we found ourselves driving past Ram Mountain and wondering where the trailhead was. There seemed to be some direct routes to the mountain via logging roads from the south but we suspected this would lead to bushwhacking and at this point in the day we wanted a good trail. When we pulled up alongside a group of hikers beside the road they told us that we were at the right spot and should start up the trail right there. We didn’t need to be told twice! It was now after 16:30. We asked the group if the trail could be biked and they looked dubious. “Possibly” was the answer but we could sense by their description of the trail that we’d be pushing the bikes uphill most of the way. We simply didn’t have that kind of energy and so we decided to pack the headlamps and start trudging up the OHV track. (I realized later that this track is the one showing on Gaia base maps.)
The trail was running water for the first 1-2 km and quite rough, making us initially happy we didn’t bother with bikes. Wietse set a good pace at 4.3km/h uphill – there was no way we would have pushed bikes that quickly! We felt surprisingly good in the cool afternoon air and kept pushing the pace, hoping to descend before dark. We met a few hiking parties coming down the trail, including a few with long guns – supposedly for protection? We didn’t see much in the way of scary wildlife but I guess you never know… Near the top of the approach trail there was a branch off to the left which I’m dubbing the “hiker’s by-pass”. The OHV track took a very steep turn up to the right here, presumably to get to the ridge top. We traversed the by-pass with great views to the Rockies and both commented on how lovely our late afternoon hike was shaping up to be. We had expected to be much more tired but the gentle ascent trail had re-energized us somehow.
Once we finished up the hiker by-pass trail it merged again on the ESE ridge leading to a distant fire lookout. We followed the obvious OHV track towards the lookout, bypassing some intermediate bumps on the way. Once we arrived at the SE summit / lookout col we turned left up towards the SE summit, deciding to tag the lookout on return and the peak first. The rumors all indicate that the SE summit is the lower one with the NW summit only a short distance away and only a tad higher.
We easily hiked to the SE summit and took in the late afternoon views, including over the North Saskatchewan River. We noticed a pink Ephraim Roberts register too – but also noted that the NW summit did appear to be a bit higher. Without taking too much time we traversed over to the middle and NW summits only a short distance away.
The middle and NW summits were only a 15 minute walk and sure enough – they were slightly higher than the SE one. The views were similar to the SE views (obviously) and we spent a few minutes enjoying them and picking out DTC and Clearwater / Ram summits in every direction.
It had only taken us just over 2 hours to the NW summit so we decided to tag the lookout on return. The return hike to the lookout was beautiful in the late afternoon / early evening air. We both agreed that Ram Mountain was the 2nd favorite peak of the day after Onion Peak and ahead of Falls Lookout.
From the lookout we descended steep scree and then enjoyed the walk back down the OHV track past a strange contraption (later confirmed to be a sheep study project) and then down the approach trail through the forest.
We arrived back at the truck only 4 hours after leaving it – much quicker than expected. I loved the Ram Mountain hike and will likely repeat it again some day with family or friends if I’m in the area. The views are far reaching and the hiking is easy and consistent grade all the way up to the upper mountain. It would be possible to bike this entire outing but be prepared for some pushing and some rough patches.