This is one of those hikes that I have been willing to do for the last 4 years. To reach this place you need to drive north on Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, past Alexandra Lodge and through Alexandra Tunnel. About 5 km after you past the lodge, there is a pull-off on the left (west) side of the highway, this part of the road has a passing line, so, if it is not safe to pull over you better drive to Cooper's Corner Rest Area and do a safe turn.
After you park, cross the higway and 100 meters ahead you will see an ugly wooden trail sign at the top of the bank.
The first part of the hike is very steep with a lot of switchbacks.
This trail uses an old pack trail, established at the time of the gold rush to the Fraser River and the Cariboo. Can you imagine the tremendous efforts of the poor mules carrying loads over the ridge between the Fraser and the Anderson River to the east?
Finally I reached the junction to the Bluffs Trail (the connecting link with the 1848 Trail, but let's leave that one for another day). From here the grade eased a little bit, I took the left (north) towards Gate Mountain.
Following the trail I couldn't stop thinking about the people, that 150 years ago had the determination to refused to be stopped by the natural difficulties associated with this place.
The open forest helped me to follow the faint trail.
It was time for a very quick break and for one nice view of the Fraser Canyon. Colloquially, the term "Fraser Canyon" is often used to include the Thompson Canyon from Lytton to Ashcroft, as they form the same highway route which most people are familiar with.
Very soon I reached an old logging road that looks like is going to be reactivated. If you are doing this hike, cross the road and keep going straight.
At this point the trail was quite bushy and in some points quite difficult to follow. No wonder this hike is classified as a "semi-popular hike".
Finally I reached an old access road. Depending of the season, you can see wildflowers and eat strawberries. Small ponds along the way can provide some cooling.
There is a minor summit called The Notch. This is another destination if you think 90 minutes on an overgrown trail are not worthy.
I keep going, after passing two minor summits on my left -- the trail stays on the east side of the ridge -- I found myself on the rocky summit.
Due to its panoramic aspect, this was a B.C. Forest Service Lookout. Now, instead of the lookout there are three small microwave towers that were helicopter-transported.
The view that greeted me was panoramic: The Fraser Canyon stretching north and south, the Anderson River System spreading to the east and southeast and in the distance many adjacent peaks.
I was able to see Hope Mountain and Isolillock Peak on the south but they were quickly covered by clouds and the quality of the pictures was not very good.
On the southweast I saw a distant peak, not very sure but I believe it is called Mount Urquhart. If so, this is a difficult to reach but rewarding climbing destination.
Back to the Gold Rush, 10,500 miners and an untold number of hangers-on populated its banks and towns during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858-60, during which it was the setting for the bloody but largely-unknown Fraser Canyon War and the opera buffa farce of a series of events known as McGowan's War.
To make story short, the Province of British Columbia was potentially targeted to be part of the United States. Thank goodness that didn’t happen, otherwise I wouldn’t be here enjoying the outdoors.
1. Elev: 270m N49'45.328" W121'24.982" Pull-off (parking)
2. Elev: 816m N49'45.644" W121'24.287" 1858-Bluffs Trail Junction
3. Elev:1003m N49'46.172" W121'24.188" Logging Road (Just crossed it)
4. Elev:1231m N49'46.737" W121'24.430" Open Forest
5. Elev:1427m N49'47.831" W121'24.426" Gate Mountain
Round trip: 16 km (9.9m mi)
Elevation gain: 1157m (3795ft)
Time: 6.5 hours
Driving distance from Vancouver: 200 km (125 mi)