Distance: 46.6 km
Time: 3-5 days
Elevation Change: 1067 m
Season: June - Oct
Access: See Getting to the Sunshine Coast Trail
Having come this far, the summit of Tin Hat Mountain is an option which should not be missed. Those on a time budget can scale the peak as an out and back overnighter from Fiddlehead Farm. Only those well-equipped and absolutely sure of their abilities should consider undertaking the climb to 1067 metres as a day trip. If pushing on down the Sunshine Coast Trail then consider the panorama from the top of Tin Hat as just a side trip on the long trek southwards. The turn off to the mountain is just over six clicks from the hostel. Leave backpacks securely behind at the crossroads to make the 1.3 km climb unencumbered. Many backpacks have detachable day packs or fanny packs for carrying food, first-aid kit and all-weather clothing in just this kind of situation. From the top the panorama stretches for a full 360 degrees to embrace over 30 Lakes, the Rainbow Range to the north and, to the north-east the South Powell Divide. Be sure to complete the ascent in a timely fashion as Spring Lake, a suitable, if undeveloped site to put up for the night, lies an additional six clicks from the detour. Much of the route cuts through virgin groves of forest that the loggers bypassed. A number of abandoned lumber camps will be encountered on the way to Goat Lake Road. Having flourished a century or more ago most have been reduced to moldering ruins largely reclaimed by the forest they set out to topple.
From Spring Lake a little-used logging spur leads two kilometres to Lewis Lake where you'll find a real campsite complete with outhouse.
Home on the Range
The next morning embark on a track along the crest of the Smith Range which divides the lakes arrayed along the first half of the Powell Forest Canoe Route from Haslam Lake which supplies Powell River with its drinking water. A number of suitable tent sites will be found in the vicinity of March Lake 7 km beyond Spring Lake but push on another six clicks to reach Coyote Lake before dark to slice the remainder of this stage in half. The terrain as far as March Lake is relatively flat though expect to be slowed by deadfalls as these sections are infrequently traveled and maintained. Save time for refreshment with an icy dip in Elk Lake before proceeding to the bluffs in the vicinity of Granite Lake. Patches of old-growth around Coyote Lake will provide welcomed relief from the late afternoon sun.
Anticipate steeper terrain along the final 13 kilometres to Goat Lake Main Road though thankfully more elevation will be lost than gained. Walt Hill and Blue Ridge both provide vistas of the surrounding countryside. If running short of time plan on putting up at the picnic area, mile 4 on the Goat Lake Mainline. During times of higher than average fire danger expect to hear a procession of logging trucks and crummy crews heading into the bush well before first light the next morning. Three kilometres further down the Sunshine Coast Trail a bona fide campsite has been established on the banks of the Lois River. Deep pools in the canyon downstream from the dam are popular with locals and visitors alike but be forewarned if a siren blows clear the banks of the river as the sluice gates upstream are about to be opened. Many locals refer to the popular swimming hole as Eagle River. If completing this stage of the Sunshine Coast Trail as a self-contained unit scamper 2 km downstream to Highway 101. Then wait for the bus on the opposite side the road according to the schedule in the appendix of this book.