For unknown reasons some people love to compare Vancouver's Grouse Grind with other hikes on the Lower Mainland like Chilliwack's Elk Mountain and Campbell Lake Trail on Harrison Hot Springs.

To reach the trailhead, drive north on Highway 9 (Hot Springs Road) 5.7 km from its junction with Highway 7 (Lougheed Highway), then turn left into the small parking opposite to Balsam Avenue.

A word of warning, this is one of those places where you need to leave your car in public sight and with nothing of value inside. Picture yourself after a hike but when you get to your vehicle, you discover the windows are broken and all your gear is gone. What emotions would you feel? Despair? Confusion? Anger? In this place 3 years ago I got my stereo stolen.


Dude, don't leave me alone

The first part of the trail goes into the village water-supply area, rising almost immediately to a reservoir, at which point you jog briefly right

The Village of Harrison Hot Springs is a small community at the southern tip of Harrison Lake in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. It is a member of the Fraser Valley Regional District.


Village of Harrison Hot Springs

After the reservoir, the trail rises steadily in long swings on the route of an old road, shaded by trees and with low shrubs until you reach the first major viewpoint at Tower 92 on the power line right-of-way. You can have some decent views if you go to an open bluff on the edge of the forest beyond.


Tower 92

The power lines are owned by BC Hydro. Under the Columbia River Treaty BC Hydro exports power to the US. These power exports became controversial as BC Hydro sells power to California to meet its peak summer load. During the Enron induced blackouts of 2003, BC Hydro was accused of price gouging.

From Tower 92 you can have some views across the valley to the Cheam Range and Lucky Four Group


Cheam Peak and Lucky Four Group

Then you go into tall timber where the trail zigzags upwards assisted occasionally by steps and gaps craftily bridged by sturdy logs. You can rest in fine log seats while you admire the forest with its fine trees, mossy rocks and logs, and varied ferns and flowers.

The mosses can give you an idea of the humidity of this place. Mosses require moisture to survive because of the small size and thinness of tissues, lack of cuticle (waxy covering to prevent water loss), and the need for liquid water to complete fertilization. Some mosses can survive desiccation, returning to life within a few hours of rehydration.

Later on, you will emerge at an area cleared for a helipad, where you can have views of Harrison Lake and the mountains girdling it and its islands. To the north, opposite to Long Island, you can see a little knob on which perches the heritage Harrison Lookout, a relic of the not-so-distant past.

The helipad brings memories from June 2006 when Harrison Hot Springs was in the news due to the discovery of drug dealers using helicopters to smuggle drugs pass the border and into the United States.


Long Island on Harrison Lake

The lookout is a fine destination but if you find the lure of the lake irrestistible, you need to hike another 1.5 km. You will return to the forest dropping gently along the north side of the ridge. You may try to cross a long log bridge or go safely on the side eventually joining a grass-covered road across an old rock slide and through alder and maple towards the little mountain lake.

Don't be surprised if you find campers in residence, a rough logging road from Mount Woodside makes the lake accessible by 4WD vehicles unless it is gated but they won't have the satisfaction of a good little enjoyable workout.

If you look carefully, you may be able to see Columbia Spotted Frogs. The mountainous regions of Alberta and most of B.C. are home to the Columbia Spotted Frog. In the breeding season these frogs can be found along the margins of permanent water bodies. In summer, adult frogs are most active by day and will forage on land, but never stray far from water. In the winter months, Columbia Spotted Frogs hibernate by burying themselves in the muddy bottoms of lakes and ponds that do not freeze to the bottom.


Columbia Spotted Frog

Download Campbell Lake Video - 13 Seconds
Windows - WMV File - 1.38 MB

1. Elev: 008m N49.2963 W121.7848 Trailhead
2. Elev: 417m N49.2949 W121.7972
3. Elev: 531m N49.2948 W121.8053
4. Elev: 639m N49.2946 W121.8067 Viewpoint
5. Elev: 645m N49.2879 W121.8166' Campbell Lake

Roundtrip length: 10 km (6.2 miles)
Time: 4.5 hours
Elevation gain:
610 m (2000 ft)

Download route in GTM format available for free at www.gpstm.com
Download route in plain text


Driving distance from Vancouver: 132 km (82.5 miles)

 

Copyright © 2008. Outdoors With Juan all rights reserved