Capilano Mountain is an incredible peak a short drive from Vancouver, which makes for an excellent day trip. Map for a route, available here.
We parked just off the Sea to Sky highway as a gate up was blocking our way onto the FSR up to the tail head as described in Matt Gunn’s book, Scrambles. This added an additional 4.8kms (one way) so it’s pretty important you get an early start to get this beast done in a day. I have heard that the gate is sometimes open, alternative you can look into getting a key from the local logging company.
As we turned off the nice and we’ll kept FSR onto the old and now redundant logging road (parking option 2 if the gate is open – see map), the trail became slightly overgrown. As we arrived at what would be a final parking option (3 – see map) and arrived at the “trailhead”, the trail was considerable overgrown.
Along the trail, the bush only got thicker as you progress passed numerous flowing creeks. As you pass the largest creek (Beth Creek?) about 30 minutes from the trail head look out for very inconspicuous flagging tape to your right, as the trail turns South West and begins to zig zag up to steep slopes to Beth Lake. Still very overgrown.
After about 45 minutes of steep trail and the occasional switch back, the trees begin to thin and bush begins to clear making for a more clearly defined trail.
As the trees begin to get a little older and the ground begins to level it’s a only a few more minutes through old growth forest before you emerge at Beth Lake.
Beth Lake is welcome site after the hours spent in the damp and dark trees. The open space it offers is a perfect little camp spot for those looking to break up the hike with an overnight camp and makes for a great swim spot. Bugs can be bad here early in the season.
After a short break at Beth Lake to take in the views of the peaks overhead, we clambered over logs as we circled around the lake and followed the trail along the bolder field, heading north, away from the lake.
It soon curves around to the left (west) before making a large turn to head south again, back towards the peak and up towards the ridge that over looks Beth Lake in the above picture. It offers stunning views, north, towards Sky Pilot and over the Howe Sound.
As you continue to climb and after a few short steep sections, the trees really begin to thin as you emerge above the tree line and into the Alpine. You can know fully begin to appreciate the altitude (having climbed from sea level) and fantastic views, particularly ahead towards the ridge that heads up to the summit.
The last picture above, provides a good look at the ridge towards the summit, which is actually a long way behind the peak in the picture. Get up onto this ridge, by scrambling up the bowl in the right of the picture. Once through the bowl and up to the ridge, you’ll find the occasional snow patch.
From here on, once you get onto the ridge you travel along around false summits towards Capilano Mountain, you get amazing views south towards Mount Brunswick and the Lions.
The bizarrely flat nature of the ridge in particular places allows for a large number of snow-melt lakes on the plateau. There are also numerous brilliant camping spots if you can be tempted to haul your pack all the way up here. Plus, you now start to get some views of Capilano Mountain itself, as seen in the picture below.
Unfortunately, as we were about 30 minutes south of the summit the heavens opened up and biblical thunderstorm rolled in, which meant we didn’t make the summit. Something I absolutely need to get back to tick off and a peak I would highly recommend to all looking for a big day out in the mountains.