Hayward Lake

May 25, 2008

To reach the trailhead if you are coming from Vancouver drive east along Lougheed Highway over the Pitt River Bridge. Go about 6 km beyond the bridge, then turn left onto Dewdney Trunk Road (note: do not take the access to Dewdney Trunk Road immediately after the bridge). Go straight east on Dewdney Trunk Road for about 23 km and watch for signs as you near the Hayward Lake Reservoir Recreation Area.

Note: Parking is on a first come, first-served basis. When parking lots are full, entrance gates will be closed. The gates also close at different times depending upon the season - times are posted on the entrance signs. Parking is free.

From the Hayward Lake recreation area parking lot, walk towards the lake, passing the washrooms and follow the paved trail as it becomes gravel. Just as you leave the recreation area, on the right of the trail is a scenic Beaver Pond.

Top: Trailhead
Bottom: Beaver Pond

With the completion in 1999 of an east-side trail, Hayward Lake reservoir, between the Ruskin and Stave Falls dams, now offers 17 km (10.5 miles) of all-season walking that can be tailored to suit hikers of all levels.

First you start going counter-clockwise on the 6-km Railway Trail, on the west side of the reservoir. This trail was built to accommodate both hiking and biking.

Many traces of an old railway remain today. Beneath the water of Hayward Lake Reservoir lie rails and ties from the original railway line and the weathered trestles still stand as reminders of the past.

Traces of the old railway

This was an electric railway known as the Stave Valley Branch of the British Columbia Electric Railway which ran between the CPR mainline and the dam at Stave Falls. It was relocated to a higher elevation with the creation of Hayward Lake.

There are some swimming areas but for your own safety observe posted signs and be aware of rising water levels. Canoeing or swimming within 1 km of Ruskin Dam is prohibited due to the risk of being sucked into the Ruskin Powerhouse's intakes, with a log-boom drawn across from shore to shore as a reminder.

The lake is very unusual in that it has a hydro electric dam at each end. To the north is the dam that falls from Stave Lake and to the south is the dam that drops to the Stave River.

Once you reach the end of Railway Trail, you need to cross Ruskin Dam to start the second part of your hike, the Reservoir Trail which starts at the yellow gate and follows the eastern shore of Hayward Lake.

Top: Hayward Lake
Bottom: Ruskin Dam

In 1929, construction began on Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse at the narrow granite gorge 5.6 km downstream of Stave Falls. This development created Hayward Lake Reservoir, named after Stave Falls Dam's first Production Superintendent.

A point of interest of the Reservoir Trail is the floating walkway over Hairsine Inlet.

Floating walkway over Hairsine Inlet

There are rustic picnic tables and benches through this second-growth forest of cedar and Douglas fir. The trail meanders through lush green forests and across wooden bridges carpeted with moss.

Some logging operations in the area were owned and run by Japanese-Canadians until their expropriation in World War II, and evidence of Japanese-style logging activity such as corduroy roads can still be found in the surrounding forests.

Eventually you will find the sign to Steelhead Falls. Go left for this short detour and follow the path as it heads downhill and through a short set of wooden steps before arriving at a view of the waterfall.

Steelhead Falls

Then you will cross Steelhead and Brown before you start a short ascent before reaching the top where there is a view of the valley below.

Stay on the left side of the fence and then cross Stave Falls dam staying of the edge to avoid traffic.

Top: View of the valley below
Middle: Stave Lake
Bottom: A reminder that drinking and driving don't mix

The trail continues down to a paved area to the Stave Falls Dam and Power House

Construction of the Stave Falls Dam and Powerhouse began in 1909 and was completed by January 1, 1912. There is at visitor centre at the Power House where you can experience an authentic 1912 generating station with interactive and historical displays.

The original salmon fishery was severely affected by the damming of the river but its lower stretches remain popular with sport fishermen, especially in search of steelhead. The hydro corporation has worked in cooperation with the federal Department of Fisheries to rework the gravel bars and channels below Ruskin Dam, but this has had only marginal effect relative to the former size of the salmon runs. Stave and Hayward Lakes have a kokanee population as well as other fish such as trout, and are sometimes stocked.

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1. N 49.2223 W 122.3598 Elev: 44m Parking Lot and Trailhead
2. N 49.1984 W 122.4067 Elev: 48m Parking Lot before Ruskin Dam
3. N 49.2113 W 122.3634 Elev: 66m Rest area

Roundtrip length: 19 km (11.80 miles)
Time: 5.0 hours
Elevation gain: 76 m (249 ft)

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

Driving distance from Vancouver: 70.3 km / 43.68 mi

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