The trail between Sparrowhawk and Buller creeks contains one glorious section across rocky avalanche slopes with spectacular views across the lake to Mount Nestor and to the peaks of the Divide to the south. The last section to Buller Creek will be closed in winter conditions because of avalanche hazard.
Sparrowhawk to Red Basin Creek – 1.6 km
Traverse the steep bank and cross the bridge over Sparrowhawk Creek above a waterfall. The trail then undulates slightly and winds slightly through the usual mossy spruce forest. About 70 m after the bridge a small cairn indicates the latest recommended route up Red Ridge. See the bottom of this page for more details. In 1.8 km come to a staggered 4-way junction above Red Basin Creek. Go straight. (A good trail to the right reaches Highway 742 and Spray Lakes day-use area in 600 m. Faint trail to left heads up the creek a way and was the original route onto Red Ridge.)
Red Basin Creek to avalanche bypass – 2.3 km
Cross Red Basin Creek on a bridge above a waterfall. Up left is the ridge route to Red Basin and bouldering area. Traverse the lower west slopes of Buller Mountain, ultimately descending a long downhill to a T-junction with the old highway close to Highway 742.
Turn left and walk the flat old road that edges closer to the highway. Seventy metres before reaching the highway, turn left up another old road. In winter continue through to the highway and follow its marginally safer line to Buller Mountain day-use area. The High Rockies Trail turns left up another section of old road.
Avalanche bypass to Buller Creek – 5.2 km
Keeping left, plod up a long uphill to the wide avalanche slope below the northwest slopes of Mount Buller. Look across the reservoir to Mount Nestor and behind you to Rimwall, Windtower, and mounts Lougheed and Sparrowhawk. Continue climbing through a belt of trees onto the first scree slope with its unique cairns built by the contractor having fun. A downhill section through trees, the crossing of a stony creaked and the corresponding uphill climb leads to a second scree slope giving a spectacular view of the reservoir’s south end, and of Eon Mountain, the pointy peak near Mount Assiniboine.
Round the end of Buller Mountain close to the highway in trees. The trail then swings away and climbs relentlessly below the crags of Buller’s southwest outlier to a high point in a swath of black-burnt timber. From here is all downhill to a Y-junction with Buller Pass trail.
Go straight and cross the bridge over Buller Creek. (Trail to left leads to Buller Pass). Carry straight on for another half a kilometre to a junction where the High Rockies Trail turns left. The trail ahead leads to the highway and the Buller Mountain day-use area parking in about 0.5 km.
The building of the High RockiesTrail opens up a new start that goes directly up the ridge. From Sparrowhawk Day use head up to the HRT and turn right, crossing the bridge over Sparrowhawk Creek. Continue on the HRT for about 70 m. Look for an open area above the trail and head directly up its steep slope. Keep trending right as you follow a ridge, transferring continually to higher ridges as they appear. Just don’t be tempted to traverse right. There are good, though intermittent, sections of game trail. The higher you get, the better defined the ridge becomes.