Trip 150 - September 4, 2018 (Tuesday)

Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road Trip

By BC Highway 5 (Coquihalla Highway) near Hope, British Columbia, Canada.

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Distance From Vancouver:
Approximately 170 kilometers via Highway 1 East and Highway 5 North.

Liked: Mountain views, two small waterfalls, fine natural views, fairly good road condition, no bugs.

Of Note: The road is frequently narrow and winding, the road is subject to slides, steep unbarricaded drop-offs, logging truck traffic possible, high-clearance vehicle is required (2WD ok), there are numerous small sharp stones - good tires and a spare are essential.

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains BC Backroad Mapbook (2nd edition) Coordinates: Page 16 (Coquihalla Summit) B5-C5-D6-E7 and Page 6 (Skagit Valley) E1. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available for purchase at BackroadMapbooks.com.

Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road is located by Exit 192 of BC Highway 5 (Coquihalla), about 20 kilometers North of Hope. It's not very long (not much longer than 30 km), and features several very fine mountain and natural views, as well as two small waterfalls. It is also possible to access HBC Brigade trail (which starts and ends elsewhere) from this road, which is very convenient, if you wish to hike only a portion of this very long trail, or want to cut your hike short. There is also a recreation site with a pit toilet (but no garbage bin) very close to the HBC Brigade trail. We did not encounter any logging trucks over the two days we spent on Sowaqua Creek FSR, but the signs of an extensive logging activity are certainly there. Also, there was an excavator working on building a side road, so logging trucks may be visiting Sowaqua Creek FSR again in the very near future. The condition of the road is fair, and a 2WD vehicle with high clearance can make it very close to the end of the FSR as of the time of writing (deep cross-ditches would stop most vehicles from going any further). Note, that there are numerous loose sharp stones on this road, which would easily puncture tires not suited for this terrain. Also, there are several potential areas of slides along this FSR, so be prepared to be cut-off from getting back, and reconsider visiting during or after a heavy rain. Finally, somewhat rough road condition, frequent potholes, as well as narrow and winding road conditions, would limit reasonable speed to 20-30 km/h throughout the entire Sowaqua Creek FSR.

Zero your odometer at the beginning of Sowaqua Creek FSR, if you want to follow the points of interest in the table below.

KM Feature Side
0.2 Split (stay left) Straight (S)
7.0 Forest Service Road (FSR) Left (L)
7.7 Waterfall 1 L
8.2 Waterfall 2 L
10.5 Road into the woods L
11.9 Mountain view R
13.5 FSR L
14.1 Road L
14.8 Valley View (Manson Ridge View) Right (R)
16.1 Road L
16.4 Split (HBC Trail/Davis Mtn - L. Mason Ridge - R) S
17.2 Mountain View R
17.8 Road R?
18.8 Road R
19.4 HBC Brigade (1849) Heritage Trail L/R
19.5 Sowaqua Creek/HBC Trail Recreation Site (pit toilet) R
22.3 Hole on the road L
25.7 Road R
27.1 Main Sowaqua FSR Split L/R
28.6 (if taking the road on the right - stopped) S
27.8 (if taking the road on the left - one more split) S
28.4 (if taking the road on the left after the 27.8 split - stopped) S

1. We are just North of Hope and are following the sign to Highway 5 North.


BC Highway 5 North near Hope British Columbia Canada

2. Approximately 20 kilometers North of Hope, take Exit 192 - Sowaqua Creek.


BC Highway 5 North Exit 192 Sowaqua Creek

3. Follow the sign to Sowaqua Creek Rd - the FSR start is a few hundred meters away.


Sign to Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road

4. Here is the start of Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road. Coordinates: N 49'26'844 W 121'16'120. Elevation: 314 meters. Zero your odometer here to follow the table of points of interest above. A sign warns of no telephone service beyond this point, but we did get a cell signal at least as far as the 17 km mark.


Sowaqua Creek FSR Start near Hope British Columbia Canada

5. Two hundred meters later, stay left. To the right is private property. A sign warns of slides and that travel is not recommended. All the slides have been taken care of, but there are several places where it looks like slides may happen just about at any time.


Sowaqua Creek FSR

6. Another sign at this split shows that the radio frequency for Sowaqua Creek FSR is 151.985 MHz. So, if you have a radio with this channel, it would certainly help in avoiding unpleasant logging truck encounters, as this road does get way too narrow in many points.


Sowaqua Creek Forest Service Road near Hope British Columbia Canada

7. After the initial somewhat rough (but not very steep) climb, here is a pleasant view. There are actually no excessively steep sections on this road.


Sowaqua Creek FSR near Hope BC Canada

8. Not much further, a good example of how narrow Sowaqua Creek FSR can get. Passing by a logging truck here might be complicated, and the drop-offs are very steep in some places.

9. The first waterfall arrives at the 7.7 km mark. It actually is mostly hidden by this tree.

10. Here is the first waterfall. You would need to walk for a few meters on a sturdy log to get the best picture. As this is the end of the season, the water flow was limited, and it would certainly look more impressive during the spring runoff.

Here is Our Video of the First Waterfall:

11. Only five hundred meters later, the second waterfall is waiting for you, and it is not hiding at all.

Here is Our Video of the Second Waterfall:

12. There are a few small bridges on Sowaqua Creek FSR, this being one of them.

13. And here is a good example of a potential slide area.

14. A good mountain view arrives at the 11.9 km mark. Except in the afternoon the sun is shining right at you, so you don't get to see much. Try to visit earlier in the day for the best views.

15. Two kilometers later, just a neat view ahead.

16. Another good view is at the 14.5 km mark. Even with the haze it looked impressive.

17. Three hundred meters later.

18. We have met five small vehicles on a workday, so this FSR might get quite busy on weekends.

19. A major split arrives at the 16.4 km mark. To the right is Manson Ridge access - the road to all the mountains we have seen on the right side. We did not go there, but, chances are, there are some pretty good views waiting out there. We went to the left towards HBC (1849) Heritage Trail / Mount Davis.

20. And here is a photo we took at the 18.1 km the next morning, when the sun was not shining right at us.

21. Now with a zoom.

Our Sowaqua Creek FSR Trip Report Continues on Page 2.


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