Trip 132 - May 19, 2018 (Saturday)

M Gurr Lake Trail Hike

Near Bella Coola British Columbia Canada


Distance From Vancouver to Bella Coola:
(via Highways 1 East, 97 North, and 20 West): approximately 1,000 kilometers.

Liked: Mountain views, "fjord" views, winter scenes, shade on the forest service road leading to the trailhead.

Of note: A high-clearance 4x4 vehicle is required to get to the trailhead, or the hike will be 18 kilometers longer (one way). Dangerous hole in the ground at the 11 km mark of Clayton FSR. Snow on the ground likely stays until at least late July.

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Backroad Mapbook (2015 edition) Coordinates: Page 22 (Bella Coola) C2. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available for purchase at BackroadMapbooks.com.

M Gurr Lake trail is located near Bella Coola, leads to some very fine mountain and water views, and is actually a nice and easy trail, provided a) you have a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle to get to the trailhead, and b) the snow is gone. In our case, neither of the above conditions were present, so we pushed our bicycle all the way up Clayton Forest Service Road until the snow covered the ground at about the 15 km mark, and then hiked in the snow for 3+ km until the trailhead, and then hiked the snow-covered trail itself.

1. To get to the trailhead, you need to take Clayton FSR, the beginning of which is located 1.5 kilometers past the western end of BC Highway 20 near Bella Coola. Here is the beginning of Clayton FSR. Coordinates: N 52'22'218 W 126'48'660. Elevation: 38 meters.

2. This road is quite smooth and relatively easy for the most part, except here and there it's fairly steep, with lots of loose stones, and there are a few water bars too, so a high-clearance 4x4 is needed to get to the trailhead. Or, you can do what we did today - pushed a bicycle all the way up, and then rode it down and saved a few hours.

3. The first good view arrived at the 2.6 km mark (all mileage is based on our GPS trip odometer).

4. The second view came at the 9.0 km mark.

5. Then, there was this dangerous hole in the ground at the 11.0 km mark. It's flagged now, but the flagging tape may not stay there forever, so watch out.

6. Mount Fougner recreation site arrived at the 12.0 km mark, at the elevation of 720 meters. There are a few tables and a pit toilet there, as well as a decent mountain view behind you.

7. Fine mountain views started appearing in abundance shortly after the recreation site.

8. As well as this neat waterfall.

9. So, it was all going well, until we started seeing snow in patches on the side of the road. Then, at the 14.8 km mark and at the elevation of 928 meters, the snow all but covered the entire road.

 

10. We went through this large patch while dragging our bicycle, and were able to take it with us a bit further, as there was a snow-free area on the edge of the road.

11. All good things come to an end, so we left the bicycle behind, and started hiking snowshoes-free on top of the snow-covered Clayton forest service road. The snow wasn't too soft, so it was possible to hike fairly quickly. Behind us, the mountains began to appear in all of their splendour.

12. We reached M Gurr Lake trailhead when the odometer showed 18.21 km, moving time was 04:01 hrs, stopped time 01:51 hrs, average speed 4.5 km, maximum speed 28.6 km (bicycle!), and elevation 1,241 meters. The trail info stand indicated 1 km of "easy to moderate" hiking to the lake, and then 1.7 more km of "moderate" hiking to the viewpoint. Trailhead coordinates: N 52'17'075 W 126'53'405.

13. Looking back at the forest service road and the surrounding mountains, before hiking the actual trail.

14. And off we go. There were a few metal orange markers nailed to the trees at the beginning of the trail, but that was all we could find. The only reason we could finish this hike was because of Backroad Mapbook software on our GPS, which showed the trail location.

15. Check out the depth of the snow on M Gurr Lake trail in late May...

16. After walking through some trees, there was this opening.

17. Snow melt was in full force, so beware of that and stay off the edges, if you ever hike in the shoulder season. Looking back here.

18. The opening seen in photo #16 narrowed down quickly.

19. Just a few more meters, and here's (mostly) snow-covered M Gurr Lake.

20. GPS trail map showed that the trail went around the lake on the right side. However, it was quicker to go on the left side, which may or may not be possible to do, once the snow is gone.

21. View of M Gurr Lake from above.

22. There were numerous fine winter scenes during this hike, this being one of them.

23. Now we are approaching the viewpoint.

24. And here it is. The sun was not cooperating, but the view was still very good. If we read Backroad Mapbook correctly, this is looking down at Bentinck Arm right before it splits into North and South Arms on the foreground, with Menzies Point being a piece of the ground sticking out in the center-left of the photograph. This is not the end of the trail as per the GPS, and there were still about 150 meters of elevation remaining. So, it's likely the view would be even more impressive, should you reach the actual end of the trail. But, for us, this was it. Coordinates for this viewpoint: N 52'17'563 W 126'54'315. Elevation: 1,329 meters.

25. Slightly to the left of the viewpoint, we could see what we believe to be South Bentinck Arm and Bensins Island.

M Gurr Lake trail has some great views, and is certainly recommended.


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