Chadsey Lake
2007-October-08

This is a hike I recommend as an early season or middle-of-the-fall hike. In its full extent you can reach Sumas Mountain, either from the east or west (part of the Centennial Trail). I have a late start so I decided just to hike to the lake. Today I will describe the east approach.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The east approach is an active quarry blasting area, before hike call 604-807-2924 or contact the quarry official.

To reach the trailhead, take Exit 104 off Highway 1 and drive east on the north frontage road and turn left on Quadling Road over the Sumas River and park by the dam. The trail starts opposite, beneath a rocky bluff.


Cheam Peak on the distance

The Sumas River has its headwaters in Washington State. In Canada it flows north from the border to the Vedder Canal just before the Vedder enters the Fraser River. The river has a drainage area of 62,600 km2 and is important as rearing habitat for salmonids.


Dam by Sumas River

What you see here used to be a lake, better known as Sumas Lake. The Fraser River flooded each spring, spreading fertile silt across the valley floor and rejuvenating the wetlands that supported abundant wildlife. As settlement increased, so did the property damage caused by the annual flooding until diking and reclamation projects more or less confined the river to its main stem. In 1894, a major flood inundated much of the Fraser Valley. The largest drainage project in the valley was the Sumas Reclamation Scheme of the 1920s, when Sumas Lake was drained to create Sumas Prairie. The project created more than 130 sq km of fertile crop land.

In 1917, the property owners of the area petitioned the provincial government to undertake the project. Finally, in August, 1920, work was begun, but delays continued. Dredging equipment was hard to find, the winter of 1921-22 was very cold, and the contractor went bankrupt. Despite this, the first phase - the diversion of the Vedder into a canal - was completed by 1922. Pumping out the lake began in 1923 and was completed within a year.

The total cost of the project was over $3.7 million - $2 million more than the original estimates. The government was subjected to heavy criticism because of the excessive cost but the project was nonetheless worthwhile to facilitate settlement, agriculture and highway development

Back to the hike, you start going zigzag upwards quite steeply having views of the cannal almost below you, then you swing back westwards until the trail eventually levels off.

Now, back to the draining of Sumas Lake, let's hear to the other side. According to the First Nations people, Sumas Lake was an important place of Stó:lo mythology and home to the Sumas people. The reclamation project , with no concern for its aboriginal heritage, make the rich wetlands habitat that nutured waterfowl, migrating birds, fish and plants disappeared.

Finally you will reach an old logging road, go right and walk on the road for almost 600 meters before going left on a trail that cuts through a strip of old-growth forest before you intercept another abandoned road.

According to Sumas Chief Dalton Silver, all of Sumas Mtn. should be a heritage site due to its many sacred caves (I have never seen a cave). Today Sumas Mountain is being mined by six aggregate companies and development plans include a residential area with over 40,000 homes.

On the abandoned road you walk for almost 2 kms, eventually you will see a trail going left, walk on this trail for almost 300 meters before you start to gain elevation.

Fraser Valley

From this point is less than 500 m to the lake, however some parts of the trail were washed out at the time of this hike, so you want look for flags showing an alternative route.

From the lake, you go left to reach the peak. If you keep right, you will reach a road that leads almost to the peak as well. This area has a lot of evidence of camping with the various spots that I could see being popular in the summer months.

Heavy rains from storms caused damage along steeper sections of the road up to the park. Due to the instability of the road, the access gate has been closed until repairs can be completed. For road repair inquires, please contact the Ministry of Forests at (604) 702-5700.

If you try to reach the peak from the lake, I do not recommend to do it on an early hike (for me, early hikes are from April to June), at that time of the year the area is flooded and you can get stuck in mud.

Chadsey Lake

This lake has trout and, oddly enough, goldfish. Chadsey Creek flows into the lake and was named in 1939, after pioneer William Harvey Chadsey (an undated provincial reference map marks it as "Lost Creek"). Chadsey died at Chilliwack General Hospital in July 1940 at age 73. He was the third of four brothers who farmed in the area in the last half of the 19th Century.

The Halqemeylem name for Sumas Mountain is Teq'qéyex which means "gap where chunk broke off". During the Great Flood, canoes filled with people were tied to this mountain; the canoes broke off and floated away to the south. Halqemeylem is the language spoked by the Stó:lo (the group of First Nations peoples inhabiting the Fraser Valley).

The Halqemeylem is an upriver dialect of the Halkomelem language, a Coast Salishan language which in turn is part of the Salishan language family. All Salishan languages are endangered—some extremely so with only three or four speakers left. Practically all languages only have speakers who are over sixty years of age, and many languages only have speakers over eighty.

I would like doing the whole traverse including the peak with a two car system because there is not need to back track. If you are interested, please feel free to drop me a line. A good time to do it is early June.

Download Chadsey Lake Video Hike - 24 Seconds
Windows - WMV File - 3.18 MB

1. Elev: 6m N49.1148 W122.1137 Trailhead
2. Elev: 620m N49.1249 W122.1441 Chadsey Lake

Roundtrip length: 13.6 km (8.5 miles)
Time: 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: 87 km (54 miles)

 

Fraser Valley Hikes

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