This hike (like many others we have done) is in Dawn Hanna’s book Best Hikes and Walk in Southwestern BC. Like many such low-level hikes, we’ve found ourselves constantly putting it aside to do `at some point’. The last two winters have seen an awful lot of snow dumped on the local mountains, which rules out the hikes that would take us to the high country. Some fine hiking weather was on the cards, though, so perhaps it was time after all to try out one of the low-level hikes we’d been putting off for so long. We got in touch with Merewyn and she liked the idea of doing this trail again as it was rather damp the last time she was there.
A warm sunny May morning saw us driving up to and beyond Squamish, into Paradise Valley before turning off left up the road to the trailhead. The steep paved section near the beginning has a nasty little dip deep enough to ground the car if it’s driven over too quickly. I took it slowly uphill (easy) but coming back down later I saw it too late (ouch!). No damage though. The trailhead parking lot is small (only 4 or 5 cars) and was already mostly full. I ended up backing the car into an uneven spot right next to the start of the trail. Satisfied, we pulled on our boots and set off up into the forest.
The trail starts out as an old logging road, gradually gaining a little elevation. We reached a sign pointing to Silver Summit, which Dawn Hanna says is best left to another day. Later on we found a map which showed it to be barely 10 minutes further along the trail! If we’d known that, we would have gone up there! Honestly… Turning off the old road the trail became a typical lovely sea-to-sky country trail, with lots of granite knolls and bright green mossy rocks. We stopped briefly at Copperbush pond to admire the now demolished shelter before heading off again.
Continuing on, the trail meandered through the aromatic Lodgepole pine and Douglas fir forest, up over small knolls with peek-a-boo views of the surrounding peaks. At one point, the Sky Pilot group was beautifully framed by a couple of trees. We passed a large group of older hikers admiring one of the views, and joined another old road. Merewyn marvelled at the complete lack of water, telling us just how wet it was when she was last here. From our perspective, on a warm sunny day it was hard to imagine that much water could even be running over the trail. But the pictures prove it.
The trail descended and crossed over a small creek on a bridge (apparently not always visible due to high water!). Here we joined the main driveable dirt road up to Levette Lake and plodded our way along. Boring but not difficult. We were passed by a couple of pickups and dirt bikes, and before too long we found the turnoff to the lake. The forest recreation site campground was busy with two or three tents crammed onto most sites. We picked our way through the trees (passing the odd barking dog) and found a nice little spot down at the side of the lake with good views across to Alpha and Omega mountains in the Tantalus Range.
Time for lunch and some lazing around. Then a swim – for Merewyn of course. But remarkably even I was tempted into the water for a short time. We hardly needed to use towels to dry off as it was by now quite a hot day. Setting off again, we walked back along the road and took the trail off to the right, again on an old overgrown logging road. But once again, before long the trail turned off the road and took to the trees becoming a pretty trail again, especially with the salal bushes coming into flower. This section of the trail was by far the nicest, passing through a lovely unlogged area (called `Unmanaged’ on the Forestry sign…), and ambling up and down over rocky outcrops. Views were few and far between, but it was sunny and warm and aromatic.
We stopped for a breather on one mossy outcrop and as we put on our packs to leave, Merewyn’s camera tumbled off her pack and down the slope. We only recovered it because I saw a flash of silver as it bounced a couple of times! The moss on the slope cushioned its (silent) fall and Merewyn was able to get down and recover it. A bit further and we were back into logged areas, though the second growth was unbelievably green with moss and lichen. Almost made up for the logging. Almost…
As we descended further, the trail skirted the edge of the Evans Lake forestry camp (with dire warnings that hikers are most definitely not welcome) and I found a couple of Morel mushrooms, the first time I’d ever seen them. I took a couple of photos and left them for the forest critters to enjoy. We passed a couple of huge cedar stumps (they must have been really impressive trees not so long ago), and soon were wandering along a rocky trail back up to the car, which had spent most of the last 4 hours becoming a toasty greenhouse in the sunshine. Urk. Maybe we should get the air conditioning fixed.
A big helping of gelato in Squamish and the cool refreshing mist off a thundering Shannon Falls made up for the lack of A/C in the car. All in all, a fine day out and, ignoring the popularity of the lake and the uninspiring section of road, a very nice little trail. Next time we will go to Silver Summit for the view.
Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 300 m