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Sea to Sky Backcountry Access Issues

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC (FMCBC) is very concerned that many areas in the Sea to Sky corridor are difficult for backcountry users to access, and that they have conflicts with snowmobile users in the winter.  Listed below are the priority areas that we want to work with the province to resolve, with more details on specific seasonal access issues after the list.

As well, about 10 years ago we participated in a LRMP process that resulted in some non-motorized areas being “designated.”  However, many issues remain since motorized users (mostly snowmobilers) don’t tend to respect the areas set as “non-motorized.”  This report also describes some of the long-standing issues and the short-term priorities that we suggest may be the easiest to resolve.

 

 

Priority 1 - Singing Pass Trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park

Winter

Parking issues for multi-day trips need to be resolved. The RMOW and Whistler Blackcomb are currently working on this issue with B.C. Parks. Parking is in currently designated areas of Lot 4 adjacent to Blackcomb Way. But those spots are frequently not available.

Summer

A long term issue. See the FMCBC website for more information. The FMCBC is working with BC Parks and other stakeholders.

Priority 2 - Mount Sproatt

Winter

Many conflicts with snowmobile users who continually access the non-motorized zone in the Rainbow Lake and 21 Mile Creek watersheds.  The FMCBC is proposing Section 58 restrictions to prevent public snowmobiles from accessing the ridge since they have demonstrated over the past 10 years that they do not respect the non-motorized zone. More information below.

Summer

Access blocked by Canadian Wilderness Adventures at 1100 m to all vehicles except ATVs and dirt bikes.

Our members put a high priority on reopening the road above the North Air mine to a parking lot at 1300 m. More details are provided in the report below.

Priority 3 - Brandywine Meadows

Winter

This was a very popular area for backcountry skiing until about 30 years ago when the snowmobilers “took it over.”  Backcountry skiers seldom go there now.

Summer

The existing logging road is getting very rough and requires some repairs to allow for hikers to access the popular trail that was rebuilt by Recreation Sites and Trails between 2014 and 2016.

Priority 4 - Brew Lake and Brew Hut via Roe Creek FSR

Winter

The access to Brew Lake, the Brew hut, and Cypress Peak area is not enjoyable due to the large number of snowmobilers using the Roe Creek FSR.

What is the best way to maintain access here?

More details are listed below.

Summer

As long as bridge over Roe Creek at 800 metres remains in place the current situation is fine.

Access to Cypress Peak is impaired due to very deep cross ditch at 900 metres at Branch 200 junction

Priority 5 - Chance Creek FSR

Winter

Winter ski access impaired due to high snowmobile use.

Action - High priority to maintain winter driving access to PMC base for ski-touring.

See comments above under Brew Lake.

Summer

Summer access to Tricouni meadows and lake limited to high clearance 4WD after creek crossing at 1040 m.

Action - Medium priority to maintain summer driving access to 1040 metres on Tricouni access road.  Medium priority to improve road past 1040 m on Tricouni access road to the Tricouni Lake trailhead at 1280 m.

Priority 6 - Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk trails via Rubble Creek

Winter

Parking is difficult in winter since only a very small area is plowed on the access road.  The FMCBC has proposed that the road to the Rubble Creek parking lot be plowed in the winter to facilitate public access.

Priority 7 - Callaghan Lake Park / Callaghan Conservancy

Summer

Summer road access is challenging for any vehicle without high clearance due to water bars.

Action-medium priority.  BC Parks is doing an adequate job of keeping the road drivable.

Priority 8 - Lizzie Lake Road

Summer

Road is washed out 1 km from In-SHUCK-ch Road. Action- medium priority to re-establish driving access to the Lizzie Lake trailhead.

Winter Access Issue Details

Mount Sproatt, Gin and Tonic Area

This area is just west of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and is accessed in winter via the Whistler Olympic Park cross-country ski area on a trail to Hanging Lake or via the Rainbow Lake trail from Alta Lake Road.  This area has become very popular with backcountry skiers since the Whistler Olympic Park cross-country ski area has provided much better access when the area opened in 2011.  Our members have many conflicts with snowmobile users who continually access the non-motorized zone in the Rainbow Lake and 21 Mile Creek watersheds.  The FMCBC is proposing Section 58 restrictions to prevent (public) snowmobiles from accessing the ridge on the south and west side of Sproatt since they have demonstrated over the past 10 years that they do not respect the non-motorized zone.

Snowmobile users have good access to the Brandywine and Metal Dome areas from the parking lot south of the Whistler Transfer station located off the Callaghan Valley Road.

 

Brew Hut via Roe Creek and Chance Creek FSR Access

Since the 1980s the Varsity Outdoor Club has built 3 huts in the Brew Lake area. The current hut is about 5 km west of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. It can be reached on a trail from the Roe Creek FSR.

The winter access to the hut and Cypress Peak area is not enjoyable due to the large number of snowmobilers using the Roe Creek FSR.

What is the best way to maintain access here?

There is a major issue with parking because public snowmobilers and non-motorized users are competing for very limited parking space on the Chance Creek FSR adjacent to the Powder Mountain Cat skiing base area located west of the Cheakamus River at 400 metres. Parking and access have become so contentious the operator took the unprecedented step of hiring a private security company to control access.

 

Garibaldi Lake Trail

The access road to the Garibaldi Lake trailhead is not plowed in the winter. As a result, there is minimal parking available for this popular access point. Plowing the 2 km of road to the summer parking lot and trailhead would reduce the trip distance by 4 km and provide ample parking for winter users.

Better access would allow more people to use the trail to the fabulous park area.

 

Elfin Lakes and Paul Ridge Access Road

This road is difficult for the parks contractor to plow during large snowfalls.  Is there a way for an additional plow to be added in December and January?  The road is going to need increased maintenance as use continues to grow in the area.

Summer Access Issue Details

Singing Pass Trail Access

This is an issue that the FMCBC has been working on since the 1990s with BC Parks and the Provincial Government.  The closure of the trail access road has made this fantastic trail a very long trip for most people. It is about 8 km from the old trailhead to Singing Pass. The distance from Whistler village to the old trailhead is about 5 km, so that makes it 26 km roundtrip.

The construction of the new Russet Lake Hut by the Alpine Club of Canada and the Spearhead Huts Society has increased the need for a solution.  The FMCBC has detailed information and proposed solutions for this issue on the website. 

Mount Sproatt Trail Access

Access to a new hiking and biking trail on Mount Sproatt is blocked by very deep cross ditches and rocks placed on the road just above the old North Air Mine at 1100 m to all vehicles except ATVs and dirt bikes.  The trail was built by built by the RMOW, Recreation Sites and Trails and WORCA at a cost of about $1 million.  Our members place high priority on re-opening the road above the North Air mine to a parking lot at 1300 m.

Brandywine Meadows Access

The existing logging road is getting very rough and requires some repairs to allow for hikers to access the popular trail that was rebuilt by Recreation Sites and Trails between 2014 and 2016.

Previously Rec Sites & Trails coordinated with Cheakamus Community Forrest, and Whistler ATV to regrade the road. This needs to happen again and every few years.

Tricouni Access via Chance Creek

Summer access to Tricouni meadows and lake limited to high clearance 4WD vehicles via a creek crossing at 1000 m.

Action recommendation – How can we improve summer driving access on the Tricouni access road.  Our members would like the old logging road maintained to improve the road past 1040 m to the Tricouni Lake trailhead at 1280 m.

Callaghan Lake Road

Summer road access is challenging for any vehicle without high clearance due to water bars.  Is this not an issue that BC Parks could address as BCP is responsible for the Provincial Park?

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3 thoughts on “Sea to Sky Backcountry Access Issues

  1. Thank you so much for your efforts to improve access. I wonder, though, about the Lizzie Creek access, and whether the area might not be better served by leaving the access road as is, i.e. walk-in access only? There is currently a clearly marked (if longish) walk-in route. Given the huge amount of work that would be required to re-build a road access, I wonder whether this is really the best use of resources, or the best way to support non-motorized users. I’d rather see a focus on trail maintenance of the middle sections of the Stein Divide cross-over, and improvements to the bridging at the log crossing two hours above the washout.

    1. Hi Sylvia
      We are waiting to hear the response from Jennie Aikman at BCP and Alastair McCrone from Rec Site & Trails. Let’s see what their response is. We’re hoping there may be some funds left in some Year End budgets… You make a good point.

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