Print Edition: July 17, 2013
Hiking season is in full swing. In this season many of my fellow students pack their sacks and travel to distant mountains to search out the most remote locations to escape the bright lights of civilization. These true hiking enthusiasts know the best trails and spend much of their summer out in the woods somewhere. To be able to devote this kind of time and energy is truly a life choice and commitment.
Unfortunately for the average student there is never the time or the money to engage in expeditions like that. So where does that leave the rest of us? Are we stuck hitting up the same select few beaches and trails all summer? It was this question that fuelled my search for new and more exciting outdoor locations in the Fraser Valley – I figured the quest for the great outdoors didn’t always have to include a lengthy and arduous drive. One location on my search was a very promising trail on Elk Mountain.
I began my quest at the UFV campus in Abbotsford where I met up with a few equally inexperienced hiking companions. We all loaded into my vehicle and headed east on the highway to our destination. The drive up to Elk Mountain took just about an hour and 20 minutes. I got my directions from Google Maps and was pleasantly surprised to find that my little Honda civic had no issues with the logging roads that led up to the trail base in Chilliwack.
By the time we had arrived it was about noon and the sun had really begun to beat down on us. Although this trail is fairly well known among the locals in Chilliwack it was evident by the lack of vehicles at the base of trail that we were going to have the whole trail to ourselves.
As we headed up the trail, the initial grade was relatively flat and the trail was wide and easy enough to navigate. We found ourselves in the shade for the first hour or so of the hike and the view was obstructed by the tall forest growth and trees, but considering the heat of the sun shining down, the shade was a welcome relief.
As we neared the lookout point, the grade of incline gradually increased and the trail began to get a little more exposed to the sun and wind. In combination with the increased steepness of the trail there was a fair amount of loose gravel and rock that was spread out across the trail, making the final portion of the ascent more challenging than the lower sections of the trail.
As we reached the top of the trail it was clear why Elk Mountain had been so highly recommended in trail guides – the far reaching view of the Fraser Valley was spectacular. From this perch I could see Cultus Lake, the Chilliwack River valley, and a wide range of Chilliwack and Abbotsford into the distance. The near 360-degree views are something better seen firsthand than described in a newspaper article.
After taking in the view, having lunch and recuperating we headed back down the mountain into the shaded paths of the lower trail. The descent took about three-quarters of the time of the climb, leaving the total hike time at about 3.5 hours. Not a bad day’s hike.
Overall, the Elk Mountain trail is a hike that is best suited for intermediate hikers who maintain a decent level of fitness. This trail is a great way to get a workout in while experiencing the outdoors in our own backyard. For anyone looking to check out a new trail in the Fraser Valley, Elk Mountain is the place to be!