With summer hanging on in there for another weekend and waking up to clear skies in the East, we made the most of the weekend weather and headed for Mt. McGuire in Chilliwack. On the edge of the Cascade Mountains, it was only 1.5 hours from Kits this early in the morning.
The trail head as described in Matt Gunn’s book, Scrambles, begins 11kms up the Borden Creek FSR, however, there was a bridge washout only 400m off the Chilliwack Lake Road. Luckily, we knew about this through the Cairn Publishing updates and had prepared for a big day on foot. We parked by the logs at the first creek and headed across to pick up the FSR on the other side.
While you could get a decent high-clearance 4×4 through the creek a little further up-stream thanks to a make-shift quad trail, after making it across and following the Borden Creek FSR for 3kms we arrived at a much more substantial washout blocking any further travel in a 4×4…
Should you be determined, it is still possible to drive to the start of the original trailhead 11kms up the mountain (there was a fully-kitted jeep there when we arrived), however, you’ll need to find a route off the Tamhi FSR and have a seriously capable machine, as well as a chainsaw, winch and repair tools.
We made our way through the tangled debris left behind from the landslide and continued on along the Borden Creek FSR. As we rounded the corner heading west, we came out of the trees and got a decent view over the Fraser Valley thanks to a new block cut.
Shortly after the block cut, it’s back into the trees as the FSR begins to head north and pretty much becomes single track. From this point on, the trail is actually remarkably runnable as you’ve gained a great deal of elevation in the stretch up to the Borden Creek landslide.
Approximately 4km after the large Borden Creek washout we came across yet another obstacle for anyone attempting to drive up to the trailhead. This time the remains of the bridge were still there, but you wouldn’t want to attempt it. Again, quads had built a trail to bypass the bridge that go straight through the creek.
After another few kms running on the FSR and as we neared the trailhead we were eventually treated to some views of Mt. McGuire. A welcome relief after a good couple of hours just slogging it out on the FSR.
Once we got to the end of the FSR and the start of the trailhead for Mount McGuire we arrive to find no trailhead. What I mean is that the area was so over grown due to a lack of visitors that there was no immediately obviously trail to follow. After a short time beating around in the bush and studying the map again, we eventually found it. Make note that while it looks as though the trail keeps going straight on from the FSR, it doesn’t. Take a hard right and keep an eye out for the old pieces of flagging tape that are few and far between. The trail begins by gently weaving it’s way through a number of (very overgrown) alpine meadows, but progressively becomes more visible as it leaves them behind and begins to climb steeply up the South East ridge of Mount McGuire. As it does, it also become better marked.
Shortly after leaving the meadows and entering into the trees, you’re also quickly through those and into the alpine. At which point, the hard work begins to pay-off with incredible views north towards the US.
Once out the trees, you have a good line of sight of the route up the South East ridge of Mount McGuire, albeit that the summit is hidden from sight.
The South East ridge of Mount McGuire is an easy scramble with only moderate exposure and mostly hiking on trails. Once up onto the final summit approach along the South East ridge, the steep cliffs either side give the mountain a feeling of statue compared to the immediate surrounding mountains that seem to roll into one another. And the summit itself provides superb 360 views:
Total ascent to the summit was almost 15k and about 1750m of elevation, which took about 3.5 hours (see Strava). And while the monotony of the FSR was at some points a mental challenge, we were very glad to keep pushing-on and pleased we spent the time looking for the main trailhead: the scramble itself and the views from the top made the mission to get to the summit incredibly worthwhile. The descent and run out was pretty quick and easy going given the long and slow gradient, plus the good quality of the trail. Absolutely worth doing as a day trip from Vancouver.