Distance: 10 km o/w
Time: 5 h
Elevation Change: 1475 m
Season: June to Oct
Topographical Map: 92 G/11
Access: Getting there is as simple as hopping a bus destined for Squamish [See Getting to Whistler.] The Woodfibre pulp mill is no longer in operation which is good news for those averse to the rotten egg scent of sulpher dioxide. The bad news is that the trailhead is no longer serviced by ferry from Darrell Bay. Instead, you'll have to arrange private transportation across Howe Sound from Squamish. Contact Jay Bicknell [1-866-466-BOAT or 1-604-815-9647] at Squamish Riverjet.
Unlike various trails in Garibaldi Park, Henrietta Lake and beyond are rarely visited by more than a couple groups at a time. The route to Henrietta Lake follows a service road behind the now-defunct Woodfibre pulp mill. Breathe deeply: the air hasn't smelled so good in decades. The service road will take you steeply up through a series of switchbacks, under a large powerline and up into the Woodfibre Creek Valley quickly leaving the sights, sounds and memory of heavy industry behind. At each branch of the road take the right fork to remain on the mainline.
At kilometre four you may enjoy a brief side trip to check out the flume which supplies the mill with water. A 15 minute stroll along the boardwalk-topped flume itself takes you to the intake pond. On a hot summer day this enticingly deep pool offers an icy jolt that will take your breath away. A metal grill separates the intake from the pool so there is little danger of being sucked down the flume. During times of high water, however, excess spills over the front of the pool creating a waterfall and considerable peril. Use your own judgement and keep in mind that whatever you do on company property is at your own risk. At the very least, top up water bottles here.
|Lakeside Refuge: Watertight cabin overlooking the dam at Henrietta Lake.|
At kilometre six the logging road abruptly ends at a sturdy aluminum footbridge. Steep suddenly becomes steeper as you follow a series of switchbacks up the last pitch before Henrietta Lake. As the narrow trail winds upward through an attractive old growth forest it crosses and re-crosses remnants of a rail lift that was once used for hauling construction materials up to the lake when it was dammed in 1947. Near the end of the trail you'll come across a strange looking structure. Keep out! It provides access for engineers from the pulp mill to the underground shaft that drains the lake.
At Henrietta Lake you'll find the aforementioned dam, a rather rundown but watertight cabin, a rustic picnic table and a floating platform perfect for hot day dips of the skinny variety. The water of Henrietta Lake is surprisingly warm, bearable at any rate and supports a healthy, if over-fed, trout population. Try fly fishing later in the season-say September or October-once the bugs have bugged off for good.
Since water flows were once manually controlled the cabin originally served as a hermitage for on-site staff. Now, with the advent of automation, the cabin is still maintained as emergency shelter. Visitors are welcome to use it but are requested to clean up after themselves. Being mouse-infested, it is suggested that this resort be used only as a last resort, particularly since mice droppings as close as eastern Washington state have been linked to the deadly hanta virus. Outside there are comfortable campsites for up to two tents.
Behind the cabin the trail leads past a sturdy helipad and begins climbing steeply towards Mt Roderick. Look for a rusted diesel "donkey" in the bush to the right. Being less travelled the trail is somewhat overgrown with blue huckleberry bushes in places but is otherwise in good condition. Remember, bears also find the fruit delicious.
Once on top you'll continue climbing the ridgeline past Sylvia Lake. The best camping is to be had beyond the rock slide. Or take the high road and continue past tiny Woodfibre Lake and on up to the summit of Mount Roderick at 1475 metres. A stupendous view on all sides is the reward for making the ascent.