Hiking International Ridge and Mount Amadis

International Ridge and Mount Amadis have been on my hit list for about a decade, ever since my wife and I made an attempt at it one snowy day. That first trip ended in a car getting stuck up some logging road and a little bit of hiking in the snow.

Looking back I have no idea where we actually were, maybe the backside approach? Who knows because International Ridge is easily accessed from Cultus Lake BC. You don’t need 4 wheel drive the road is totally paved.

The high point of Amadis is at 1506m which puts it about 100m higher than Elk and about 500m lower than Cheam. While the guidebook says that the average grade is 13% it’s totally tricking you.

Sure it may be 13% average but a huge chunk of the hike to get to the ridge is easily as steep as Elk (which averages 23%). The overall gain for Elk is only 800m (since you drive up around 800m to get to the trail) where International Ridge starts you off much lower and has an elevation gain of 1445m over the 22km.

This hike also has deadfall to climb over/under and plenty of foliage to make things just a bit loose under your feet. The foliage on the ground won’t be as big an issue if you’re doing this in the summer/spring but if you head out in fall it makes the off-camber steep hiking just a bit harder.

Deadfall on International Ridge

Deadfall on International Ridge

In short, this is one stout hike with a few spots where a fall would mean a long fall down the knife edge ridge. It’s got some great views to make it all worthwhile though.

Me at one of the truly exposed spots. It drops off 100m on the left

Me at one of the truly exposed spots. It drops off 100m on the left

Getting to the International Ridge trailhead

If you’re coming on highway 1 get off at exit 119A and head south towards the US/Canada border. About 1km after you cross the bridge over the Chilliwack River (called Vedder River on the downstream side) you need to take a left hand turn at a set of lights to head in to Cultus Lake.

From there you’re looking for Edmeston Road. The old guidebook talks about a marina just after the road but it hasn’t been there for years. From the roundabout in Cultus Lake you need to travel about 2.5km and Edmeston road will be on your left.

Beautiful quite slightly snowy forest on top of the ridge

Beautiful quite slightly snowy forest on top of the ridge

From there travel about 200m up the road and find a parking spot near the yellow gate that will let others park as well. This is a popular trailhead for many trail runners and dog walkers as it joins with all the other Cultus Lake trails on this side of the lake.

The route

Get out of your car gear up and get ready for a bit of hiking on old roads. Your first turn on the trail is at a trail marker that points to Watt Creek on the right you want to go to the left fork and things start getting just a bit steeper.

Your next turn is a left fork and will take you out of Cultus Lake Park and in to the International Ridge Provincial Park. If you look over your shoulder here you’ll see the sign for Cultus Lake Park.

Keep going till you cross an obvious old slide which covered the road years ago. Just after this on your right you’ll see a well marked trail heading up hill. This is where the going really gets steep.

Keep going up till you hit the next road then go right for about 80m where you’ll see another well flagged trail heading off to the left. Get ready for more uphill work to gain the ridge.

There are a few tricky loose spots along the way. Just keep your eyes open and make sure you have great footing where you see fall possibility. The worst few steps have a rope hung you can grab if you feel the need.

Now it’s just a matter of continuing the hike till you reach the summit. Along the way you’ll get treated to a number of views either towards the Chilliwack River valley or over Cultus Lake. One of my favourite things this time of year was the light dusting of snow we encountered in a midst of green and brown forest.

Looking down towards the Chilliwack River Valley

Looking down towards the Chilliwack River Valley

The forest at the top of the ridge looks much like Vedder which I’ve always thought is something out of a fantasy novel. The only issue with the upper forest is that many of the markers are on the ground or pretty old and hard to see. Numerous times we stopped at a marker and ranged back and forth a bit before we saw the next marker. We had a bit of snow on the ground so maybe if it was bare forest floor you’d see the trail easily. Just note that a bit of route finding may happen on the ridge.

Check out the picture at the top to see Amadis from the point we stopped.

To get back, turn around and head back to the car. If you click through to view the activity below you’ll note that the pictures are attached to the GPS track where they were taken.

All told our trip was around 22km which matches with the guidebook description the only problem is looking back at the GPS track we were short of Mount Amadis. It looks like we had another kilometer or two to get to the summit proper. The route says to allow 10 hours to complete it. We ended up taking around 7.5 hours total time and around 5 moving time but like I said we didn’t quite get to the summit of Mount Amadis.

Based on my GPS track the actual hike to the top of Amadis is more like 25km round trip or more. Either that or my iPhone was so inaccurate that it added a few kilometers to the trip. 3km seems a bit excessive for error though so I think the hike is longer than it says in the guidebook.

Still even without hitting the Amadis summit the upper forest and the great ridge views were well worth the day out in the rain/snow. If you’ve got a full day and are feeling strong then go hike International Ridge and see if you can get to the proper summit of Amadis.

If you’re looking for the map of the area you need 92H/04 Chilliwack.