Seven of us set off for the Fraser Canyon on an overcast morning. After almost a two and a half hour drive, we arrived at the trailhead. The parking area for the trailhead is in a new lot, about 400 m past Alexandra Lodge, with a large information sign about the trail. The old trail has been blocked off with logs where it meets the new trail. A map is available on the Hope Mountain Center website.
The trail has been restored by the Hope Mountain Center, Spuzzum First Nation and other groups over the past year, so it is in excellent condition and includes a number of interpretive signs at various places along the trail. The trail climbs steeply (approximately a 20% grade) for the first three kilometres, switch backing through the trees and around a rock slide.
We took breaks at both the lower viewpoints, to read the signs, admire the views and catch our breath. The first viewpoint looks west across the Fraser River, while the second one looks more to the north-west, towards the Alexandra Tunnel on the highway.
We continued to climb upwards. After the first three kilometres, the trail becomes more undulating, with some downward sections, although any sections of uphill still remain quite steep. After passing some culturally modified cedars, we finally arrived at the only major fork in the trail. We took the right-hand loop and continued up, arriving at a lovely field of lupines. As the trail began to level out towards the top of Lake Mountain, we came to the site of a 2004 forest fire, caused by sparks from a motor home on the highway. We heard a grouse in this area, but it remained hidden. After passing a small creek, we found a lunch place overlooking one of the lakes along the trail.
The only drawback to the entire day was the number of mosquitoes along the entire trail, which required multiple applications of bug repellent. However, this was only a minor inconvenience and was more than offset by the variety of flowers, including prince’s pine, tiger lilies, columbines, star flowers, lupines and many more. There were also a number of birds, including the grouse, a red-breasted sapsucker, and a very noisy raptor in the burn area, which was likely a peregrine falcon with a nest in a rock outcrop. Other birds were heard, but not seen.
After lunch we continued on to the campsite, where a trail leads off north to Gate Mountain and the 17 Mile Creek trail. We headed south, passing more small lakes and stopped at a final viewpoint, which gave a fantastic view of the canyon from north to south. After a break and some photographs, we continued back to the fork in the trail, and headed back down towards the trailhead. The skies cleared up, and the sun came out, but the temperature remained moderate throughout the day. We arrived back at the cars in the late afternoon and headed back to Vancouver after a great day.
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