The muddy path inclines slightly to gain the upper aspect of the Paint Pots. At the top of the ochre beds, the path becomes indiscernible, but it does pick up at the far end, after crossing the outlet of one of the cones. The cones are formed from the iron oxide buildup at the outlet of cold mineral springs. They rise in height from the deposit of minerals at the rim of the cone.
The trail into the forest narrows where an old, rough-looking sign guides you to Helmet/Ochre Creek, Tumbling Creek and Helmet Falls campgrounds. A stairway of railway ties assists the entrance into the woods. Within another five minutes, a sign steers you to stay straight on the path and you feel a mild elevation gain. After crossing a couple of small streams, the hike through spruce and pine forest levels off. At about the 3.5-km mark, you come to a magnificent avalanche slope of shrubs, flowers and maybe bears.
After crossing the slope, you re-enter the forest for another six to eight minutes and eventually come across signs in a small cleared intersection. Turn left to follow the trail another 7.1 km to Tumbling Creek Campground. Six to eight minutes later, the route crosses a suspension bridge, meets the Tumbling/Ochre Junction campground and passes through it quickly. Tumbling Creek sticks to your left flank for a few more minutes until the hike begins to switchback uphill. Ten minutes later the route levels off into a forest of spruce and pine.
The forest takes on an odd characteristic here as it begins to thin out, leaving only the thickest, strongest trees standing. Looking upward through the trees, it becomes apparent that the thinning results from years of bombardment from snow and debris sliding down the mountainside. Here, you can see the forest for the trees.
The forest continues to thin and will meet with an expected wide avalanche slope that periodically glances into forest. The journey progresses toward the campground in the midst of trees, shrubs, rocks and soil, meandering up and down through this paradise, and at 6.5 to 7 km into the journey, you cross Tumbling Creek over a short metal bridge. The reason for the name of the creek becomes evident the further upstream you go. This is not a deep, wide, raging river, but a creek that actually falls – tumbles – onto itself. It is steep enough and contains enough rock and debris that it truly does tumble rapidly down the valley.
Continue briefly uphill, to be rewarded with uncluttered views of the green, open slopes on both sides of the creek. Drainage down the slopes into Tumbling Creek is spectacular. An added bonus is the sight of Grey Mountain directly down the trail to the southwest. A couple of waterfalls in Tumbling Creek simply add to a magnificent day. Combine this with a bit of elevation gain within the forest and some stretches of creekside rambling and the day will soon be complete at Tumbling Creek Campground.