I’ve been making the most of the beautiful late summer weather and enjoyed yet another terrific hike in Greater Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains. A sucker for punishment, I decided I could endure 6.5 km of heart-pounding uphill from Lions Bay, and 6.5 km of knee-knackering downhill to Porteau Cove for the promised “wow” views and scenery that lies between on the Howe Sound Crest Trail.
The rolling 6 km (approx.) between the up and down are indeed awesome and I was once again awed by the rugged backcountry so close to “civilization”. We were treated to outstanding views of Howe Sound, gorgeous alpine meadows exploding with sweet, juicy blueberries, crystal clear lakes, and pretty waterfalls. This is just one segment of the spectacular Howe Sound Crest Trail that stretches 29km from Cypress Bowl in West Vancouver to Porteau Cove.
The hike is about 19 km, and takes at least 7 hours (add in another hour or two for blueberry picking and swimming). Unless you can get someone to pick you up at the end of the hike, you’ll need to park a second car at Porteau. There’s a large parking area, clearly marked with a hiking symbol that is accessed off a ramp on the east side of Highway 99 ( about 2 km south of Porteau Cove Provincial Park).
The hike starts high up in Lions Bay, at the end of Sunset Drive, by the yellow gate. This is the trailhead for The Lions and Brunswick Mountain. To get to the Howe Sound Crest Trail, follow the signs for Brunswick Mountain. Be prepared for a two-hour grunt— mostly through forest with few views.
Finally, the torture stops when the trail gets to the intersection with the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Straight (up) leads to Brunswick Mountain (1788m)—the highest peak in the North Shore Mountains—another 45 minutes of an even steeper slog on rocky, rubbly terrain. We decided to save Brunswick for another day and turned left onto the mercifully level Howe Sound Crest Trail.
Great views to Howe Sound start immediately and the painful ascent is quickly forgotten. Soon you’ll get glimpses of icy blue Brunswick Lake and the lovely Deeks Lake Valley. It’s an easy 2.5km downhill to the lake, but the amazing mountain scenery and frequent blueberry picking stops had us traveling at snail’s pace. Leave yourself plenty of time to linger at Brunswick Lake, it’s a beauty.
From Brunswick Lake, it’s a pleasant 3.2 km to Deeks Lake. The trail follows a creek that connects the two lakes. There are a few crossings, but there’s very little water right now. The route travels past a stunning waterfall and vividly coloured Middle Lake before dropping down to Deeks Lake.
It’s time for another break at peaceful Deeks Lake before starting the long descent to Porteau Cove. The way down is steep in parts, but not as heinous as the uphill, and much prettier except for the last two kilometers on the logging road. It’s a good time to contemplate the beauty of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and plot your next hiking adventure.