Over the past few months the Pacific Northwest experienced some of the best autumn weather in a very long time. We had long periods of sun, warm temperatures and very little rain. It seemed like everybody was taking advantage of the good weather to get outside as often as possible.
For me that meant hiking as many trails as I could fit in. In my previous post I shared my adventure to the summit of Frosty Mountain in Manning Provincial Park. A couple days later I ventured out to another provincial park to bag another peak – Mount Seymour.
Mount Seymour, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, BC
Date: October 14 Distance: 5.6 miles Elevation gain: 1,476′
Mount Seymour is the highest peak in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, located only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, B.C. The park is one of the most popular hiking spots in Vancouver because of its variety of trails and of course its proximity to the city. The park protects over 8,600 acres of wilderness however the most popular trails are within only about 10% of that space. On a sunny Saturday in the summer there will be upwards of 1000 visitors to the 900 acres of alpine trails.
Because of the high volume of visitors I tend to avoid the park during the best hiking months. My opportunity to hike the summit trail finally presented itself this October when the weather was amazing but the crowds were thinner.
I started out pretty early with the sun’s rays just starting to hit the parking lot. For the first mile the trail climbed steadily over rocks and small creeks. The trail stayed mostly in the forest following the edge of a ski run. It was a cool and crisp autumn morning but I warmed up quickly with the uphill climb. I popped out of the trees near Brockton Point, about 700 feet higher than when I’d started.
The trail mellowed for the next half mile as it continued north. Another half mile and 500 feet later and I had curved around the north-east flank of the mountain to reach just below the first summit of Mount Seymour, also known as Pump Peak. I’ve been on the lowest summit a number of times before (mostly in the winter) so I didn’t bother with the extra climb to reach it. Instead I turned west to follow the trail towards Second Peak and Seymour Peak.
The trail descended briefly into a saddle and then climbs very steeply up a rocky couloir. I put my poles away before starting that section knowing that my hands would be more useful for clambering up the boulders.
The trail crested about 50 feet below the summit of Second Peak and then descended once more to a saddle before the final 200-foot climb to the relatively flat summit of Mount Seymour. I made sure to find the summit marker and stand on it, but sadly no one was around to take my picture. Instead, I found a nice spot to sit with a great view north.
I found it amazing to consider that I was staring at over 2.7 million acres of rugged wilderness. If you were to venture due north from Mount Seymour you wouldn’t reach the next road for over 60 miles (and you’d likely get very, very lost). For today however Mount Seymour was my turnaround point.
The trail was still quiet as I descended Seymour Peak just after 10:30 in the morning. However when I reached the Second Peak junction it was so crowded I could barely pass through the narrow saddle. It appeared to be a large hiking group trying to decide whether to make the push to the third peak. From that point on I had to be patient and gracious as I gave right away to uphill hikes as per proper trail etiquette. Even though I knew how busy the trail could be, I was still pretty stunned, especially by the large groups of people. It also didn’t help that a local trail running group was doing the trail (most of them were back at the trailhead when I got there – over 50 runners!)
I ended up joining forces with a couple who were heading down at the same time as me, just so that we could pass as a small group. Another silver lining of the trip back was being overheard chatting about the Pacific Crest Trail by another thru-hiker. The last couple miles flew by as Extra-Mile and I chatted about adventures on the long trail.
I’m glad to have finally summited the official peak of Mount Seymour but considering its popularity I doubt I’ll be back anytime soon. When I do go back, it will be to venture further into the park along a wilderness route to Mount Elsay and Elsay Lake.