Level: Difficult

Distance: 8½ km

Time: 6 h

Elevation Change: 1040 m

Season: May to Nov

Topographical Map: 92 G/6

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Access: Visit the Appendix for details on Getting to Horseshoe Bay

Get off the #250 Horseshoe Bay bus near the end of the line immediately after passing first Gleneagles Golf Course and then an elementary school on the left in quick succession. The bus will stop just before a stop sign on a short but steep uphill grade. Follow the green highway sign to the right across an overpass to Highway 99. The trailhead is just a short distance east, back in the direction of Vancouver, after you cross the busy highway. Exercise caution at this intersection as motorists are usually accelerating and jockeying for position on the treacherous road to Squamish and Whistler.

From the trailhead the route climbs very steeply, leading first to Eagle Bluff [1094 m] then on up to Black Mountain [1217 m]. Both prominences offer spectacular views of Howe Sound, Vancouver Island and the City of Vancouver. On a clear day the American San Juan Islands can be seen due south while Mt. Baker may be visible in eastern Washington State. Black Mountain is home to a record-sized Mountain Hemlock. Though, at 44.8 metres, it is not the tallest on record, its 5.46 m girth is a species first.

The going gets easier after Black Mountain as the trail winds down into Cypress Bowl at the heart of the Provincial Park.

If enamoured with big trees, a side trip to the south side of Yew Lake will reveal the world's chubbiest balsam or amabilis fir, a whopper at 7.14 metres around at the base and 43.9 metres tall.

Nothing is uglier than a ski hill bereft of snow and Cypress Bowl is no exception. In the off-season the park is not serviced by any kind of public transportation other than an expensive taxi ride. If you do not plan to continue hiking beyond the park you should ideally arrange for someone to pick you up at the ski lodge parking lot. Hitchhiking is also a possibility but just keep in mind that the most dangerous creatures in the wilderness are not the animals. Never hitchhike alone and, for obvious reasons, women should never hitchhike.

The hardiest souls will want to continue walking through the park and beyond to the British Properties. That route is detailed below.

The End


Vanilla Leaf

Vanilla Leaf

While modern adventurers smear their skin with toxic chemicals to keep pesky bugs at bay, natives of the Pacific Northwest took a less carcinogous approach. The fresh-squeezed juice of common Vanilla Leaf was applied to fend off mosquitos and black flies. Dried leaves, smelling faintly of vanilla, were hung in bunches about the longhouse for the same purpose. A potion of boiled Vanilla Leaf was used to wash bedding to eliminate bed bugs and mites and as a hair treatment to fend off lice and fleas. Look for Vanilla Leaf at trailside in heavy forest wherever moisture accumulates.

Illustration by Manami Kimura