June is a tricky month for hiking – usually snow still lingers in the mountains, making many higher-elevation trails inaccessible/dangerous/unpleasant to hike on. These 3 trails are great moderate-difficulty trails open for hiking in June.
1. Mt. Elphinstone
Trailhead location: near Langdale on Sunshine Coast, BC
Trail stats: 18 km (26 km if walking from the ferry), ~1300 m elevation gain (from the ferry terminal)
Pros: Great views of Vancouver and the Gulf islands from an unusual vantage point. It’s possible to get to the trailhead by walking from the ferry terminal, so no need to pay to bring the car on the ferry.
Cons: It’s a looong hike. And you have to keep the ferry schedule in mind so as to make it to the last ferry! We almost didn’t!
Hiked on June 4, 2017
This trail is fairly new. It’s one of the very few trails accessible on the Sunshine Coast directly from the ferry terminal, so there is no need to bring over your car if you want to save money on the ferry crossing. The Mt. Elphinstone trailhead is located in Sprodocks bike park about 4 km from the ferry terminal, but there is a connector trail from the ferry that takes you to the trailhead without having to walk on the highway.
To reach the connector trail, turn right to Port Mellon Highway after disembarking from the ferry. Walk up the highway a short distance and then take the first left turn (Wharf Rd). Walk to the end of the road and you will see a trail. Walk on this trail (ignore the multiple side trails that will soon appear), past a quarry and over a small bridge, until you reach the Sprodocks Bike Park. The park is a maze of trails with multiple different markings; just stick to the main trail until you see the markers for the Mt Elphinstone trail (yellow diamonds). The trail itself is very well marked, which was very helpful to us because about 1/3 of the trail was still under snow. It was surprising because it was already June, but we did have an unusually high snowfall this year.
The trail weaves through the second-growth forest for about 3/4 of the way, and then you will get glimpses of the water. There are multiple places when you think you’ve reached the summit, but you will see that’s not it. Once at the summit, you will see a cell tower and a helicopter pad. Catch your breath and enjoy the immense 360 degree views.
When we were coming down, we missed the signs to the Connector trail and ended up walking on the highway to the ferry for 4 km. As it was a very quiet stretch of the highway, I actually preferred it because I was worried about making to the last ferry! Keep the ferry schedule in mind and pace yourself.
2. Lindeman Lake and Greendrop Lake
Trailhead location: 137 km from Vancouver, (40 km east of Chilliwack, BC)
Trail stats: 13 km, ~395 m elevation gain
Pros: The “ow to wow” ratio is off the scale. This relatively easy trail packs in an amazing variety of sights and terrain: two clear emerald lakes, stretches of second-growth forest, creek crossings, boulder fields, etc.
Cons: None I could think of!
Hiked on June 17, 2017
This is one of my favourite hikes, especially for spring. You will see so many shades of green: the young foliage of deciduous trees, the darker shades of the evergreens, and the shimmering emerald of the clear mountain lakes. Add on top of that an interesting variety of terrain: the first 5 km to Lindeman Lake is a steady climb through second-growth forest, where you will feel the majority of the elevation gain. Beyond Lindeman Lake, the trail is less about elevation and more about the terrain: you will cross several boulder fields, tackle a couple of streams, and walk in a shady forest. Greendrop Lake is another gem: on a good day, you can see how it got its name: it’s green as an emerald and clear as a drop.
Crossing a stream
3. Mt. Pilchuck
Trailhead location: 220 km from Vancouver, near Verlot, WA
Trail stats: 8.6 km, ~700 m elevation gain
Pros: Great 360 degree views from the fire lookout at the summit
Cons: Long drive and having to cross the border. Probably best done as an overnight trip. There are a lot of camping spaces along Mountain Highway.
Hiked on June 24, 2017
This is one of the most popular trails in NW Washington State, and I have wanted to hike this trail for a long time. Because of the heavy snow conditions this year, a lot of the trail was still covered with wet, melting snow, which made the hike more difficult. I actually got sunburned from the light reflecting from the snow, despite SFP50 sunscreen. What I was most surprised (flabbergasted) at, however, was the number of people hiking the trail without proper footwear. It felt like our group was the only ones wearing boots! Most people were in sneakers, soaked through, slipping and sliding through the snow. They even brought little kids! Not to mention that the trail is not particularly safe in the snow, especially near the top. We concluded that it must be a favourite Washingtonian pastime to blatantly disregard common sense when hiking Mt Pilchuck 🙂
The elevation gain is considerable for such a short trail. The fire lookout at the top is a great place to relax, eat your lunch, and look at surrounding peaks such as Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and Mt. Rainier.