Today I decided to do a different workout, an easy backcountry skiing combined with some downhill skiing. I went to Mount Seymour which is located just 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

Trailhead and Mistery Peak Chairlift

There are many trails of various lengths and difficulty. Lower mountain trails are used extensively by mountain bikers and hikers, while upper mountain trails are restricted to hiking. Winter trails are put in place Mid-December through Mid-April each year. Winter snowshoe trails and ski trails marked by BC Parks do not require a permit or pass.

There are two backcountry trails, both trails begin at the park kiosk located at the North end of parking lot #4 nearest Mystery Peak Chairlift. At the kiosk, the latest trail conditions and Avalanche Hazard ratings are posted. Snowshoers, backcountry skiers, snowboarders and hikers use the backcountry trails throughout the season.

The Mount Seymour Backcountry Access trail takes you to the saddle between 1st and 2nd pump and offers great views. Trail length is 7 km return. Trail rating is moderate to difficult depending on snow conditions. Return time - 3 hrs on skis, 4 hrs on snowshoes.

The First Lake trail has very little elevation gain, and loops out to the lake, then intersects with the Mount Seymour trail to bring you back down to the parking lot. This trail is rated easy to moderate depending on snow conditions. Return time - 1.5 hrs on skis, 2 hrs on snowshoes.

In my case I was doing the Mount Seymour Backcountry Access trail. Although not particularly high, these mountains are rugged and should not be underestimated. Severe weather conditions in the North Shore Mountains often contrast dramatically with mild conditions in nearby Vancouver.

This is especially true in winter, but even in summer large precipices are hidden very close to popular hiking trails and it is very easy to get lost, despite being in sight of the city.

Reaching First Pump

The park lies in the coastal western hemlock and mountain hemlock biogeoclimatic zones. Below 1,000 metres, old-growth Douglas-fir and western redcedar are interspersed with second-growth coniferous and deciduous trees and a variety of shrubs. At 1,000 metres and above, forest cover is mostly amabilis fir, yellow cedar and mountain hemlock. Some of the higher meadows are cloaked with sub-alpine flowers, providing colourful early summer displays.

The park offers viewpoints overlooking the city of Vancouver and east over Indian Arm Provincial Park. There are several lakes in the park. Elsay Lake is the largest. Its waters and those of De Pencier, Gopher and Goldie drain eastward to Indian Arm. Some of the smaller lakes and ponds feed their waters west to the Seymour River.

Burrard Inlet, Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park

Although the first recorded climb of Mount Seymour was made in 1908 by a party from the BC Mountaineering Club, Mount Seymour was virtually unknown to most of the residents of Vancouver and vicinity until the late 1920s. In 1929, members of the Alpine Club of Canada explored the mountain as a potential skiing area and the following year applied for a 21 year lease covering the primary skiing terrain, however the Depression years forced the club to drop the lease.

Second Pump and Mount Seymour

A variety of large and small mammals inhabit the park. Coyotes and deer are often seen close to the access road. Black bears, bobcats or cougars may be sighted in the backcountry. It must be strongly emphasized that bears, cougars and bobcats are wild animals and should never be approached, offered food or tormented.

Mistery Peak

I still have a long way to go before I can learn how to use alpine skies but it was worth the try. I returned using the sky facilities The winter facilities are operated by a private company and includes four lifts, a tow, various ski slopes and runs in the alpine ski area. A ski school and ski equipment rentals are also available. A snowshoe interpretive program is offered during the winter operating season (check with Mount Seymour Resorts at (604) 986-2261 for details).

On my left from the parking lot I had views of Indian Arm. Indian Arm is a steep-sided glacial fjord formed during the last Ice Age, it extends due north from Burrard Inlet, between the communities of Belcarra (to the east) and the District of North Vancouver (to the west), then on into mountainous wilderness. The area was explored by Captain George Vancouver in June 1792..

Indian Arm

On my right from the parking lot I had views of Burrard Inlet. Formed during the last Ice Age, it separates the City of Vancouver and the rest of the low-lying Burrard Peninsula (to the south) from the slopes of the North Shore Mountains, home to the communities of West Vancouver and the City and District of North Vancouver.

Burrard Inlet forms Vancouver's primary port area, an excellent one for large oceangoing ships. Freighters waiting to load or discharge cargoes in the inlet often anchor in English Bay, which lies south of the mouth of the inlet and is separated from it by Vancouver's downtown peninsula and Stanley Park.

Mount Seymour has three weather stations: one at the bottom of the Mystery Peak Chairlift, one near tower 9 of the Mystery Peak Chairlift, and one just below Brockton Point which is the top lift station of the Brockton Chairlift. Except for the unusually warm winter of 2004-2005, there is usually a snow depth of 500 cm or more at the Brockton weather station.

BCRFC historical records (from 1960 to 1989) report that Mount Seymour's average snow base has been 160 cm on January 1st, increasing through winter and spring to 345 cm on May 1st.

Driving distance from Vancouver: 30 km (18.75 miles)


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