Trip 186 - May 29, 2020 (Friday)

Cutoff Butte Trail Hike

Near Vanderhoof BC

Trailhead Location:
Approximately 110 kilometers from the town of Vanderhoof via Highway 16 West, Bearhead Road, Telegraph Road, Kenney Dam Road, Kluskus FSR, and 500 Rd (Kluskus-Natalkuz FSR). Located at the 15.1 km of 500 Rd (Kluskus-Natalkuz FSR).

Liked: Knewstubb Lake views.

Of Note: Numerous mosquitoes. The trail is steep closer to the end with loose rocks and dirt hiking poles and boots are essential. Steep unbarricaded drop-offs closer to the end of the trail, with some trail erosion.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 9 (Fraser Lake) B7.

Related Website: Knewstubb Lake - Wikipedia.

Cutoff Butte trail is a short hike leading to fine views of Knewstubb Lake. The higher you climb, the better the views, until you reach the top of the short mountain (butte) and see the most panoramic view of the lake below. What's interesting is that a time-beaten sign at the trailhead says that the hike is 3 km long, and takes 1 hour. In fact, it took us only 25 minutes and 1.2 km in distance to get to the top. As the Backroad Mapbook software trail ribbon in our GPS ended there as well, and there was no apparent way (or point) to proceed further, it was clear that we, indeed, reached the end of the trail. The only reasonable explanation for the discrepancy is that the trail used to be longer, but a shorter trail was made after the sign was placed by the trailhead.

Cutoff Butte trail starts easy enough, but the last several hundred meters are quite steep, and the surface is often loose. Also, there is some trail erosion next to steep drop-offs, so watch out for that. There was no sun during our hike, which would have likely made the views of the lake even better. However, the heavy clouds, remote rain and thunderstorm made for an interesting background.

There are several ways to get to Cutoff Butte trailhead. You can get there via the end of Holy Cross FSR (then via Kenney Dam and 500 Rd, which begins at Kenney Dam), or via Kenney Dam Rd (which ends at Kenney Dam and connects with 500 Rd there as well). But we proceeded to this trail via Kluskus Forest Service Road right after hiking Greer Creek Falls trail, so check out the previous trip report for directions on getting from Highway 16 near Vanderhoof to Kluskus FSR.

All roads leading to Cutoff Butte trail from Highway 16 are either dirt of gravel, but are in very decent shape. Kluskus FSR could even qualify as a backroad highway - it's that wide and smooth. Speed limit of 70 km/h is realistic.

1. So, we continued on Kluskus FSR past Greer Creek Falls trailhead, which is located at 37.6 km mark of Kluskus (mileage markers are placed every kilometer there). The photo below is Kluskus FSR at about 62 km mark.

2. Almost immediately after the 73 km sign on Kluskus FSR, and 34.8 km after Greer Creek Falls trailhead, turn right onto 500 Rd (also known as Kluskus-Natalkuz Forest Service Road). Coordinates: N 53⁰33.684 W 124⁰34.295. Elevation: 1,013 meters.

3. Now on 500 Rd (Kluskus-Natalkuz FSR).

4. The trailhead for Cutoff Butte trail is at 15.1 km mark of 500 Rd. Here we see a 15 km sign on the left side - the trailhead is 100 meters further, on the right side, where the curve is seen straight ahead.

5. Here is that curve up close. The trail sign is seen on the right side.

6. Cutoff Butte trailhead. Coordinates: N 53⁰34.378 W 124⁰47.415. Elevation: 940 meters. The trail begins on the right side of the photo, where it's a bit overgrown.

7. It can be difficult to tell that there is a trail for the first 50 meters or so, but then it becomes obvious.

8. The first half of the trail is inside a forest.

9. After about 700 meters, the trail emerges out of the forest, and turns into a rocky path.

10. Shortly, Cutoff Butte trail becomes rather steep. The ground in many places is made of loose dirt and stones.

11. The first good view of Knewstubb Lake arrives at 0.8 km of the trail.

12. The trail then goes through a short rock field.

Cutoff Butte Trail - Vanderhoof Hiking

13. Another good lake view at 1.05 km mark.

14. Approaching the base of the top of Cutoff Butte.

15. At the base of the top of the butte, the trail goes to the left. If the erosion gets to be too much, see if you can get around on the right side - we have not gone there, so can't tell if that's a viable option.

16. Just a bit further. Some erosion can be seen at the bottom of the photograph. There are very steep drop-offs there, so erosion presents a substantial obstacle.

17. Getting close to the end of the trail.

18. And we are there. It took all of 25 minutes and 1.2 km of hiking. The elevation here is 1,117 meters, which is 177 meters elevation gain from the start of the trail.

19. Knewstubb Lake view from the top of Cutoff Butte is panoramic and impressive.

Knewstubb Lake

20. Zoomed view.

Knewstubb Lake British Columbia

Here is our video of Knewstubb Lake from the end of Cutoff Butte trail.

More videos are on our YouTube Channel.

21. And here is a view of Knewstubb Lake after we drove for 2 more kilometers on 500 Road after the hike. Some folks were camping in the area.

Cutoff Butte trail has some serious challenges closer to the top, but leads to a fine lake view. Recommended.

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