July Mountain is a remote peak on the north end of the Coquihalla Summit area. It is accessed off the Coquihalla Highway at the Juliet Creek exit. A narrow gravel road goes uo the valley for 4 km before crossing the creek. Over the next 4 km, the road becomes rougher, more grown-in with alder, and there are a number of challenging waterbars to get through. A high clearance vehicle can make it all the way to the end of the road, but many others will have to park and walk the road. We had to add 2 km to our hike because of one difficult waterbar on a steep section of the road. The trail then follows an old double track paralleling South July Creek.
The double track becomes a single track, then the trail becomes steeper through the forest. The next section runs through a wet meadow, lush with wildflowers. At the end of the meadow, the trail curves out to the foot of a boulder slope under an arm of the mountain, then up thorugh steep meadows, following the stream.
A steep climb up a talus slope is required to get onto the upper ridge. The final section of the hike is a traverse along the ridge to the summit. We spotted ptarmigan, camouflaged in mottled black and white summer colors in the granites of the Coquihalla Summit peaks.
The clouds started to lift off once we were down by the lakeshore. There are some nice spots on the east and south sides to pitch a tent (after the mosquitoes dwindle). This would be a drier hike in late August or September.
The 12.85 km (return) hike took us about 5 hours. The steep downhill is unforgiving on the knees, but overall we liked the July Mountain hike. When we return to do it again, we will pick a late summer date when the meadows are drier, the snowslopes have melted, and the mosquitoes are gone.