Mount Strachan


Total Distance: 10.0 km (return)
Estimated Time: 5 hours
Average Grade: 11.0%
Structure: Linear - Return
Elevation Gain: 549 m
Start Elevation: 910 m
Max Elevation: 1459 m


From Vancouver, cross either the Lions Gate Bridge or the Ironworker's Memorial (Second Narrows) Bridge. Follow Highway #1/#99 west to Exit 8, signed as "Cypress". Follow Cypress Bowl Road north as it winds its way up the mountain to the ski hill area. Park in the main parking lots at the end of the road, near the park information sign. Note that the yellow gate on Lot 1 is now locked at 8pm in summer.


You are in Cypress Bowl. There are three mountains (Black, Strachan and Hollyburn) that can be ascended from here (Cypress Mtn. refers to the name of the ski operation). The Howe Sound Crest Trail goes from here towards St. Marks, Unnecessary Mtn., the Lions and beyond. A trailmap is located near where ski lift passes are sold.

Strachan can be done in a few ways:

1. Head up ski runs/gravel road on the southeast side of the mountain and follow it to the top of south peak. Or cut onto trail mentioned below near the plane crash site when the road heads westward by a chair lift.

2. Start off on the Baden-Powell Trail in a easterly direction. After half an hour at a junction at the third creek, go left onto the Old Strachan Trail (staying right and crossing this creek will head east on the B-P Trail towards Hollyburn). Follow this route (red markers) uphill in a NW direction as it winds its way up to meet the ski run mentioned above. It will go around it and eventually through a meadow and then past an old plane wreckage. From here it gets steeper as it parallels a ski run to top out on the South Peak of Mt. Strachan.

To continue on to the higher north peak, follow the track down to a col and then up to the north summit.

3. From the parking area follow the signs west towards the Howe Sound Crest Trail, eventually on to the main HSC trail heading for St. Marks Summit. The trail has been recently rebuilt, allowing for one to maintain a better pace. After about 40 minutes you will come out into an open area (Strachan Meadows). The HSCT crosses two new bridges over Montizambert Creek and continues into trees towards St Marks. You want to turn right just after the first bridge (maybe boggy if it has been raining recently).

Looking up you should see a prominent gully (Christmas Gully) with two peaks (Strachan north and south). Start up the ~300m gully (note: snow which has avalanched into the gully in the winter stays late given its protection from the sun). There may be flagging here and there and a faint track. When the gully starts to steepen, keep an eye out for a couple big step-ups and flagging to your left. The trail heads up into the trees to avoid the steeper areas and the deep snow remaining in the gully some summers (which is undercut by the creek and can be hazardous). About 100m vertically down from the col, the trail comes back out into the steep gully of rock and grass: watch for rockfall if you are with a group, as the trail now becomes increasingly steep. Once at the col, the north peak is on your left, south peak on your right. Head up the north peak to enjoy panoramic views including the city and the St. Marks, Unnecessary and Lions chain. To return, follow #1 or 2 above to make a loop trip. Note that if you do this as a loop and intend to take route #2, keep a sharp eye out for the re-entry back into the forest - it can be difficult to spot. If you have reached the ski-lift on the south summit, you have missed it and should backtrack.


GPS Waypoints

Main Cypress trailhead N49.39537 W123.20245 10U 485310 5471428
Hollyburn / Strachan trail junction N49.40345 W123.18792 10U 486366 5472324
Edge of meadows N49.40461 W123.19089 10U 486151 5472453
Top of ski lift N49.40543 W123.19566 10U 485805 5472546
Airplane crash ruins N49.40627 W123.19515 10U 485843 5472639
Start of Strachan summit area N49.40888 W123.19581 10U 485796 5472929
Strachan - South Peak N49.41081 W123.19523 10U 485838 5473144
Strachan - North Peak N49.41314 W123.19306 10U 485996 5473402
HSCT / Christmas Gully trail junction N49.41368 W123.20393 10U 485208 5473464