Credits: running_bear_expeditions on Instagram
Opportunities for hiking abound in and around the village of Harrison Hot Springs. Whether you are looking for an easy, family friendly hike, or a trail that challenges your endurance and gives you a great workout; you’ll find trails of every variety here. Following is a list of five fantastic hiking trails which we’ve rated by difficulty using one to five pairs of Sasquatch feet! How many of these trails have you done?
Things to know:
• Check weather forecast before heading out
• Always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back
• Pack water and snacks (and always pack out everything you packed in)
• Walking poles are a great idea to help you through steep sections
• While hiking, make noise or wear a bell to alert wildlife of your presence
Credits: HarrisonResort on Twitter
Length: 1 km return
Time: 20-30 minutes
Trailhead: As you drive into the village on Hot Springs Road, turn right on McPherson Road (where the welcome sign & Hot Springs Harry are), then left onto McCombs Drive. From there, it’s about 500 metres to the trailhead.
Part of the East Sector Trail System, Spirit Trail is the shortest and easiest on the list at only one kilometre in length. But don’t discount it because of that – this trail is well worth the walk. A local artist and resident has crafted several dozen clay masks that decorate the trees along the walk. Children especially enjoy the walk as spotting the masks is akin to a treasure hunt! They can keep a tally of how many masks they’ve found as they walk the trail. The masks, combined with the beautiful cedar forest, velvety green moss and lavish ferns, give the area an enchanted and mystical air. The bonus of this walk is if you feel like continuing, a wooden boardwalk connects the Spirit Loop Trail to the longer Bridle Trail.
HICKS LAKE LOOP
Credits: stephantuinenburg on Instagram
Length: 7 km return
Time: 2 hours
Trailhead: Head towards the village on Hot Springs Road, then turn right onto Lillooet Avenue and follow it all the way through town; as it starts veering left it becomes Rockwell Drive. Continue on Rockwell, and when you reach a fork in the road, go right. Continue several kms until you see the sign for Hicks Lake. It will be a right hand turn there, continue and take your first left to the day use area. There are two big parking lots here. Start your hike from the boat launch in the day use area; the trail is on the right from the beach.
This long loop offers a walk that’s easy for all ages and skill levels. The beginning of the hike hugs the shoreline, and a short distance later you’ll come to a rocky outcropping that offers lovely views of the lake. After you pass over a metal bridge, go left and follow the trail along the shore. You’ll also see a trail that goes to the right, but that trails leads to the campsite area. The beauty of the Hicks Lake Loop is the wide range of terrain that you’ll encounter. Parts of the trail are along the shoreline, and it also weaves through mossy forests, and crosses many wooden bridges that span small creeks. About halfway around is a beautiful beach, a nice place to stop for a break and enjoy the view of the lake. The trail makes a full loop around the lake so it’s a great place to have a long, peaceful walk in nature, and let your mind and body de-stress.
SANDY COVE & WHIPPOORWILL POINT
Credits: jelgerandtanja on Instagram
Length: 4 km return
Time: 1.5 hours
Trailhead: To access this trail, park along the waterfront stalls on Esplanade Avenue, then walk the gravel trail that heads west past Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Continue past the building with the hot springs source and as you are almost at the end of the path you will see a trail to your left. It is marked with a yellow sign and starts off uphill.
One of the highlights of this hike is the beautiful secluded beach known as Sandy Cove. This trail for the most part isn’t very difficult but can be a bit challenging for younger children as there are some steep sections, including a challenging scramble over boulders partway up. Make sure to wear good hiking boots as there are a lot of exposed tree roots and rocks which can be slippery. After the first steep sections and rugged rocks though, it’s smooth sailing as the trail continues onto a flatter worn path. Eventually you’ll reach a T junction: this point is the beginning and end of the loop. Go right to get to the beautiful Sandy Cove beach. It’s often quiet (especially during off-season) as the only way to access this beach is the way you just came, or by boat. This area offers brilliant views of Harrison Lake and the surrounding mountains. The trail continues at the far end of the beach. The rest of the trail weaves its way through bountiful ferns and forest. At one point the trail climbs a small hill before dipping back down and follows alongside the Harrison River, and there’s a short trail that goes to a rocky bluff overlooking the river. The trail gets narrow in areas but other than the steep rocky start, it’s a fairly easy loop.
Credits: chelseastunden on Instagram
Length: 18 km return
Time: 6-7 hours
Trailhead: As you drive into Harrison Hot Springs, turn right at Lillooet Avenue. Drive for approximately 5 km, and at the point it starts to go up the east side of the lake, you’ll see a rough gravelly/grassy road on the right. Park here but don’t block any driveways (there are a few residences here).
If you’re looking for a moderately difficult hike, with some breathtaking views as reward, hike Bear Mountain! Your walk begins on an old forest service road. You’ll see remnants of an old mining operation as you walk. After you pass an old mining office, you’ll get to a fork in the road. At this point, take the trail on the right. Along this path, you’ll see some lovely small waterfalls and viewpoints. Then, you’ll gain plenty of elevation as you hike through a series of switchbacks. After about 2 hours of hiking, once you pass two talus slopes, you’ll get some incredible views of Harrison Lake and Harrison River. You’ll probably want to take a break here to savour the scenery and snap some pictures. Once you continue, you’ll soon reach another intersection for Bear Lake to your right, and the trail to the Bear Mountain Lookout to the left. Stay left to get to the lookout. There is some slow slogging involved as the trail is overgrown with deadfall and trees in some areas. Once you’ve reached the top, comes the reward: the forest opens up much like the heavens opening, and you’re greeted with spectacular, sweeping views of the Cheam Mountain Range, the Fraser Valley, Fraser River, and of course Harrison Lake and Harrison River. This is a fantastic photo opportunity and a dazzling feast for the eyes!
HARRISON GRIND (CAMPBELL LAKE TRAIL)
Credits: stellacarmen93 on Instagram
Length: 10 km return (including trail to lake)
Time: 6 hours
Trailhead: Drive down Hot Springs Road until you are at Balsam Avenue on your right. Park at the turnout to your left; the trailhead is here.
As this trail winds its way up Agassiz Mountain, it travels through a wide diversity of terrain. You’ll have to traverse some strenuous and sharp inclines, and lots of rocky and rooted sections— so it’s not a trail for beginners. Start by following the gravel road up an incline to the water reservoir, then go left around it. You’ll be walking a path that’s cut under some power lines. Next, you’ll enter the forest. Eventually the trail alternates, going back and forth between walking on a wet and slippery creek bed and a packed trail. After a while, the trail gets narrower and you come out into the open and a boulder trail goes up from there. The trail is more technical here, so you have to really watch where you step so you don’t twist your ankle or trip. You’ll end up back in the forest which again is very root-filled and rocky. Eventually you reach a moss-covered log bridge, but if you don’t want to try it, there is a path you can take next to it. You’ll have more arduous sections to climb before you come out to a flat section (known as the old helicopter landing pad). This is the spot where all your effort will be rewarded! You’ll be met with incredibly dazzling views of Harrison lake and the stunning rivers and mountain ranges that surround it. This is a great place to have a snack as you enjoy the mountain-fresh air and incredible beauty that encircles you. If you decide to carry on to Campbell lake, it’s another couple of kilometres, with a mossy boulder section to cross, stairs, and more slippery spots and roots. It’s a small, tranquil lake where, on a hot day, you might want to take a cool and refreshing dip. When you decide to head back down, walking poles will help immensely on the steep descent to take the pressure off your knees.
For more information on these or other hikes, or other activities to do while in Harrison Hot Springs, visit our website at www.tourismharrison.com, call us at 604-796-5581, or stop by the Visitor Information Centre at 499 Hotsprings Road.