A big hike with some serious hours carrying overnight packs and big elevation gain, but totally worth it for the camping spot at Upper Pierce Lake.
Starting from the car park just off Chilliwack Lake Road the trail quickly turns into a tree-lined set of tight switch-backs connected by steep-straights as you begin to ascend and gain altitude, rapidly. Expect to start sweating soon after heading off.
The occasional clearing along the trail, caused by land/rock slides provides some form of break from the darkness of the trees.
The clearings also offer some pretty good views looking back down the valley over the Fraser River…
After a couple of these clearings a creek crossing, which provides a welcome point for a quick refreshing break, you arrive at Lower Pierce Lake. Although only approx. 2.5km from the car park, it’s a good three+ hour hike with overnight packs and pretty demanding. Lower Pierce Lake, however, provides a pretty spectacular resting spot to refuel and relax.
Rumour has it that there is a canoe on the shores of Lower Pierce Lake, although we could only find the broken-up remains of one. There is, however, a large wooden floating platform and some make-shift oars from sticks, which you can use to paddle (slowly) out into the lake. The water is warm. The lake is quiet. And supposedly a good fishing spot too. There were also a number of camping spots dotted around the lake.
After lunch at the lake-side, a good swim and exploring the lake of the make-shift raft, we packed up and continued our way on to Upper Pierce Lake: a further 1.5 hours on foot and 500m of elevation. Heading South, along the overgrown slopes to the East, which provided some good views both over the lake and up to the summit of Mount MacFarlane.
The next camp rest in the saddle below the summit and on the ascent provided some great views north, back over Lower Pierce Lake as the sun was beginning to fall in the late afternoon.
The ascent from Lower to Upper Piece lake is much more in the open (except for a little switch back section in the middle) and there is a few fun scramble sections where ropes have been fixed in place to assist. Once past these the trees begin to disappear and you follow a cascading falling from the upper to lower lake. In the sun now, it provides a brilliant source of refreshing running water.
The hike up to Upper Pierce Lake, although you won’t think it when you finally arrive at the Lower lake, is absolutely worth pushing on for – regardless of how tired you are. The reason being that the camping options are significantly more in number and the view… well, the view, just take a look at it:
Yes, another tent photo… it’s like camping on top of the world…
As we arrive at Upper Pierce Lake, the sun was almost set. This provided us with one of the most incredible sun sets I’ve ever seen…
Upper Pierce Lake is also somewhat of a crater, the stones walls of which glowed orange with the reflection of the setting sun. It was quite the magnificnet site to see and provided for an excellent back drop when going for a I’ve-just-hiked-for-hours-and-sweated-buckets-and-need-to-jump-in-a-lake type of swim…
Once the sun had gone down we were fortunate enough to camp under a completely clear night where the stars were on full show.
Waking up to blue skies the following morning and a very still Upper Pierce Lake. A pretty amazing spot for breakfast before heading up to the summit of Mount MacFarlane. And in the morning sun, you can fully appreciate just how clean the water is. Like nothing I’ve seen before.
Shortly after an early breakfast, we started the ascent up to the summit to beat the midday sun. It begins by hopping over the crystal clear creek, literally, as it’s drops over the cliff and descends to the Lower Pierce Lake.
The scramble begins pretty immediately after crossing the creek. It’s super fun, with great views and little exposure. The odd little wall provides a bit of a technical hurdle, but the majority of it is a straight forward hike along the ridge.
A little over 45 mins from the camp at Upper Pierce Lake, you arrive at the summit…
After a good rest on the top, numerous photos at all angles it was time to descend. And the route back down provides epic views of Upper Piece Lake that really set off the colour of the water.
After having lunch and then packing up camp we made our way back down the 8km trail all the way to the car park. This was a looooong day (considering the summit round trip already done) and once in to the trees after Lower Pierce Lake be warned that the trail feels relentless and never-ending.
Saying that, all-in-all it’s worth the slog of a hike for the camp spot at Upper Pierce Lake, alone. And the fact that you get to check off the simple and fun summit scramble of Mount MacFarlane from the list, makes it all the more special. Absolutely worth a visit.