Finding some snow on Elk Mountain

Elk Mountain is one of the gems that hovers over the east end of Chilliwack British Columbia. It’s an easy to access hike that’s best June to October though it can be hiked almost any time of the year if you’re up for dealing with snow. This is a dog friendly hike but remember to keep your animal under control and clean up after them.

My daughter on one of the 3 bridges in the first bit of Elk

My daughter on one of the 3 bridges in the first bit of Elk this summer

If you’re coming from Vancouver get off at the Prest Road exit in Chilliwack (exit #123) and go south. After about 4km at a 4 way stop just before the road starts going up hill take a left then go to the right uphill when the road forks.

Stay on Elk View road by going straight through the 3 way stop. You’ll hit a gravel road and keep going around another 2km to a clearing on your left. Park here and the trail starts at the far end of the parking lot.

There are 2 main lookouts on Elk Mountain. The first is where most people stop which is unfortunate. By the time you get to this beautiful rocky outcropping with views of Cultus Lake and the entire valley you’ve done about 95% of the work to get to the ridge line.

First lookout on Elk Mountain Nov 11 2015 with a bit of snow on it

First lookout on Elk Mountain Nov 11 2015 with a bit of snow on it

If you continue up the trail for a few more minutes you’ll be treated to views of the Chilliwack River Valley and International Ridge both of which are stunning. If you hit your timing right you’ll get beautiful views of the sun rising along the ridge line over the mountains.

One set of the repaired/new stairs put in this summer

One set of the repaired/new stairs put in this summer thanks to the trail crews

If you go all the way to the summit which is on your left just after the flag used by para-sailers then you’re looking at about a 10km round trip. If you’re really fast you can do this trip in 90 – 110 minutes though most people leave 3 – 4 hours to make the full circuit.

I regularly get on Elk just to see some snow after October and my most recent trip was no exception.

Hiking up from the parking lot it was standard going with no gloves needed. About 2km in to the hike I had to stop and put on gloves but my softshell was cutting the wind nicely. By the time I got to the lookout the wind had really picked up and it required my proper hardshell but I was treated to a light dusting of snow. There was a bit of ice as well going around the base of the first lookout so once on it I put on my ice spikes to continue up the trail to the proper summit.

Elk summit with Cultus lake on the right and the Chilliwack river stretching below

Elk summit with Cultus lake on the right and the Chilliwack river stretching below

How cold was it at the top? Well just after the picture above my phone shut off. Now I generally store it in an outside pocket of my Nathan Vapour Cloud so that means it had no body heat on it and was taking the full force of the wind. I wasn’t cold but I was fully dressed and moving quick. Sticking my phone in an inside jacket pocket for 10 minutes brought it back to life.

The ridgeline to Thurston one snowy day in November 2014

The ridgeline to Thurston one snowy day in November 2014

If you’re in the area make Elk Mountain a stop to get some awesome views of the valley. It’s one of my favourite training hikes due to it’s year round accessibility and steepness coupled with a gorgeous view of the valley. Even if clouds come in to cut it off, they’re generally so awesome to watch swirl around the summit that you’re happy to be there. If you’ve got a day then even look at continuing the ridge line to Thurston or Mercer. The only caveat for these longer hikes is that there is no water at the top of the mountain so you need to pack everything in for both yourself and any furry friends you bring.