Total Distance: 5 km
Return Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 504 m
Traditional Territory: TRTFN
Ruby Mountain is a beautiful and accessible hike near Surprise Lake, northeast of Atlin, BC. It is part of the Atlin Volcanic Field, and red coloured tephra adorns the summit and flanks giving it that red 'ruby' look. The route is straightforward and the hike is less than 5 km return with about 500 m elevation gain. There are some rocky sections and a bit of exposure at the top to add to the excitement. Watch for Dall's sheep and caribou in the area and give all wildlife a wide berth.
Coming into Atlin from Whitehorse via the Atlin Road (Highway 7), turn left at the T-junction onto Surprise Lake Road. Drive this road for 20 km until you reach Surprise Lake, you will pass Pine Creek Falls and all the placer mining activity. Once near the outlet of the lake, continue following the main road that winds left and across the bridge over Pine Creek and the lake outlet. Keep right immediately after the bridge at the T-junction, staying on the main road. Follow this for another 6.5 km. After 6.5 km, the road heads left up the Ruby Creek drainage. Continue for another 5.9 km until you reach a gate. Just before the gate, there is a rougher side road that heads up to the left. This is the trailhead. Up to this point the road is quite well maintained and driveable in all vehicles. If you have good clearance and 4-wheel drive you can drive up the rougher and steeper side road if you want.
From the trailhead, follow the road up into the mountain valley. The elevation gain is gradual and the views are wide open of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. After 1.2 km of hiking the road, you will see a vegetated ramp on your left that leads up to the base of Ruby Mountains' north-facing ridge. Leave the road here and traverse the alpine to the base of the ridge.
Hike up the ridge staying on the vegetated areas as much as possible to avoid the looser rocks. There will be some hiking on talus slopes but you can avoid a lot of it. At one point, soon after starting the climb, you'll have the option to either stick right or left on the narrow ridge. The left (east) side is a lot easier, as it is less steep and you can pick up a light trail that leads up to a grassy alpine plateau. Once you reach this point, you should traverse to the right (west) to pick up the last stretch of trail to the summit. There is a summit marker on the top.
The 360 degree views are beautiful on a clear day. You can clearly see Surprise Lake and Atlin Lake and all the surrounding mountains. Mount Leonard and Mount Barham are prominent peaks in the area to the northwest and north, respectively. There is a huge amount of mineral exploration that has taken place in the area, with many roads, criss-crossing the mountainsides and the Mount Leonard area still has some active exploration.
Follow the same route down, or if you are looking for a longer day hike, you can continue from the summit and head down along the west ridge, and then following the ridge to the right (northwest - north) to meet up with the exploration roads that zig-zag down the parallel ridge (to the northwest) of Ruby Mountain.