Elsay Lake

Rough route from Mt Seymour Trail junction to Elsay Lake


Total Distance: 20.0 km (return)
Estimated Time: 12 hours
Average Grade: 6.1%
Structure: Linear - Return
Elevation Loss: -605 m
Start Elevation: 1260 m
Min Elevation: 655 m


From Highway #1 (Trans-Canada Highway), head north over the Ironworkers Memorial (Second-Narrows) Bridge in the middle lane. Take the third exit after the bridge (#22a), signed as Mount Seymour Parkway. Turn right onto Mount Seymour Parkway and follow it 4.4 km East before turning left onto Mount Seymour Road ( just past the Safeway).

Follow Mount Seymour Road up the mountain to the large parking lots at the end of the road. Start at the BC Parks Mount Seymour Trail information kiosk. Note: in Summer the upper ski area parking lots 3 & 4 are locked up at Sunset, with the yellow gate seen at the entrance to Parking Lot 2. Overnight parking is in Lot 1


Only experienced and well-equipped backcountry travellers should hike this trail. Hikers are encouraged to plan their hike early and not underestimate travel time. The trail starts on the main Mount Seymour Trail and follows it until the trail divides just before First Pump Peak.

You begin your hike by climbing 245m up the Mount Seymour main trail to the Elsay Lake trail junction, then, after a short descent, dropping a further 300m down Wes's Staircase to the valley to the east. Along the way you'll pass through a truly unique wilderness, wild and untamed, to coin a phrase.The east faces of Seymour, Runner Peak, Mt Elsay, Gopher Lake, and boulder fields are among the things you'll see. The trail can be overgrown and confusing in some sections. Wildlife sightings are frequent too.

Elsay Lake - Located betwen Mount Elsay and Mount Bishop. This is the largest lake in the park and is only accessible by trail. This trail is closed in the winter due to extreme avalanche hazards.

* 10 person BC Parks Emergency shelter at Elsay Lake [770m. elev.], however Elsay Creek has to be crossed at the end of the trail to get to it; this can be a major endeavour and in wet conditions the creek can rise suddenly, stranding parties of hikers on numerous occasions over the years and requiring helicopter rescue!

** Keep in mind that the cumulative elevation gain on this route is almost three times the net gain, and there is actually more uphill hiking on the return leg, including the 300 metre "Wes's staircase" built of rock to get back up to the Mt Seymour main trail: allow a full day and choose a good weather window.

***This trail is considered dangerous in winter due to avalanche concerns and is closed by BC Parks at that time. It can be subject to rapid weather changes or rolling fog at any time. Descending or ascending Wes's Staircase requires traversing some dangerously exposed slopes and runouts in snow conditions, crampons and ice axe recommended strongly.


GPS Waypoints

Mount Seymour trailhead kiosk N49.36774 W122.94889 10U 503711 5468338
Dog Mountain Trail Junction N49.36856 W122.94918 10U 503690 5468429
Dinky Peak Trail Junction N49.37233 W122.94948 10U 503668 5468849
First Lake Trail Junction N49.37311 W122.94987 10U 503639 5468935
Trail Joins Ski Run Service Road N49.37633 W122.94590 10U 503927 5469293
Trail Leaves Ski Run Service Road N49.37792 W122.94370 10U 504087 5469470
Brockton Point N49.38165 W122.94189 10U 504218 5469885
Elsay Lake Trailhead N49.38615 W122.93615 10U 504634 5470386