Level: Moderate

Distance: 11 km

Time: 5 h

Topographical Map: 92 G/6

Elev Change: 855 m

Season: June to Nov.

Access: The #246 [Park Royal, Vancouver or Highland] Bus will connect with the trailhead on Mosquito Creek whether you board at North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay or at any of the stops along West Georgia in Vancouver. The #246 Highland bus only originates in Vancouver Monday through Saturday during peak hours. The #240 15th Street bus however follows the same route at any time, necessitating a transfer to the #246 Highland on Marine Drive at the foot of Capilano Road in North Vancouver during off-peak hours. Whichever route you take, get off at the corner of Montroyal Boulevard and Glencanyon Drive and walk west, towards the fire hall, crossing the bridge over Mosquito Creek to find the start of the trail.

The trail to Mount Fromme starts off the same as the previous hike but follows Mosquito Creek's western bank upstream instead. Within a couple minutes a sign declares that the trail is not maintained by the District of North Vancouver, warning of numerous hazards along the way. The trail is indeed rough especially at the upper end just before it meets up with the Baden-Powell Trail. Sections may even be flooded during spring runoff. The creekside route however is attractive with Mosquito Creek pouring steeply down over a course strewn with larger boulders. Photo enthusiasts may want to pack in a tripod and practice those tumbling-brook shots. To reach the creek crossing upstream at the Baden-Powell Trail should take just 40 minutes.

For an easier but longer alternative walk west along Montroyal Boulevard past Mosquito Creek, turning right at Skyline Drive. Follow the road uphill to the parking area under a BC Hydro powerline. Follow the right-of-way east (right,) staying with the road when it veers north. Continue uphill until the road intersects with the Baden-Powell Trail. Head east along the trail for a few minutes to return to Mosquito Creek.

Whichever route you take, cross the skookum iron and plank bridge over Mosquito Creek and note a side trail leading along the eastern bank of the stream. Though not the route to Mount Fromme, a brief, 10-minute stroll upstream leads to the mouth of an attractive gorge that was originally dammed as a source of water for early North Vancouver residents. The wooden dam is deteriorating now as are the wood and wire pipes.

You may also notice a faint path on the opposite bank at the foot of the dam. During times of low water, boulder hop across the creek and scramble up the steep bank to marvel at a cluster of Douglas fir giants, leftovers from when the North Shore was originally logged. Some of the behemoths have reached 2 metres in diameter and 60 metres tall.

conch In the photo note the woodpecker bore holes. Parasitical fungi, insects and their feathered predators all have a role to play in reverse-engineering dead or dying trees. Eventually the entire tree will be consumed, transformed into into a nutrient-rich soil that fosters new plant life.

 

The Mount Fromme trail proper begins a few steps east along the Baden-Powell Trail just behind two giant water tanks at the top of Prospect Drive. The trail marker states "To old Grouse Mountain Highway. 50 minutes. Trail not maintained." In spite of the admonishment, foot traffic is frequent enough to keep the trail open. A maze of old trails, old logging roads and the Grouse Mountain service road can sometimes make getting to Mount Fromme a confusing proposition. The first 50 minutes are steep but straightforward, leading, as the sign says, to the back door route that is still used by the Grouse Mountain Resort.

Turn left upon reaching the dirt road and within a few steps expect to be confronted with a choice. The left fork is a disused logging road that eventually reconnects with the so-called Grouse Mountain Highway. The right fork is a continuation of the "Highway" which loops around to the right in a large switchback. Not always obvious, the middle route is the best option: a 20 minute short-cut named Per Gynt Trail that cuts across the aforementioned loop.

Upon regaining the old Grouse Mountain Highway turn left again. After following the service road for another 30 minutes look for numerous ribbons hanging in the trees to the right of the road. This is the steep, final fragment of the Per Gynt Trail. Forest will soon enough give way to subalpine as the trail climbs up towards Mount Fromme's North and South Peaks. Plan to take sustenance at the top while gorging on views of Lynn Valley below and Lynn Peak and The Needles beyond. Mt. Fromme was named for the CEO of the company that originally logged much of the North Shore.

Though most will want to return via the Per Gynt Trail an alternative loop exists that leads back down to Mountain Highway. Since the trail, signed to "Senate Peak (North.)", is badly marked and overgrown only the experienced should consider this shortcut.

Nestled at the foot of the draw between Mount Fromme's twin peaks lies a mountain tarn known as Meech Lake. Make for the pond after filling up on bagels and buena vistas. Marked with old splashes of red paint, peeling orange squares and the odd pink ribbon, the route plunges steeply down to the Grouse Mountain Highway. At the bottom the trail continues across the road as Pipeline Trail, swinging back to the first Per Gynt shortcut mentioned above.

For an easier out stick with the Grouse Mountain service road as it leads southwest to the main chalet. Numerous sideroads can be confusing but the main one is clearly marked with a sign stating that the top of the mountain is up and to the right. The road will switchback across Blueberry Ski Run several times before reaching the resort proper.

The tourist trap boasts giftshops, resturants and a pub overlooking Vancover where nachos and suds are features of the house. Hiking out on the Grouse Grind is free but a quick exit via the tram will cost $5. At the base of Grouse Mountain the #236 Lonsdale Quay bus leads to the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal. For a faster, all-bus route, transfer to the #246 Vancouver or #246 Park Royal bus at the intersection of Capilano Road and Ridgewood Drive. The former operates during daytime peak hours Monday to Saturday while the latter will take you as far as the corner of Marine Drive and Garden Avenue at any other time before proceeding on the West Vancouver. Transfer to the connecting #240 Vancouver bus to reach downtown.

Alternately, take the #232 Phibbs Exchange bus to Edgemont Village and transfer to the #246 as described above.

The End


Puffball

Puffballs

Apart from being edible—and delicious at that—dried spores were used as diaper rash "talcum powder" by the First Nations of BC. Spores were also found to staunch bloodflow when placed on a wound. At one time the brownish spores were used as a photographic flash powder. A large puffball can contain as many as 7500 billion spores. If each of these spores were to grow to maturity the next generation would form a fungus colony some 800 times the size of the earth.

Illustration by Manami Kimura