The Lions (Binkert Trail)

Popular trail leading to knoll just south of West Lion. West Lion can be scrambled from end of trail

Statistics

Total Distance: 15.0 km (return)
Estimated Time: 7 hours
Average Grade: 17.1%
Structure: Linear - Return
Elevation Gain: 1280 m
Start Elevation: 245 m
Max Elevation: 1525 m

Directions

The parking at the trail head is limited and the closest overflow parking is down the hill at a school 1 km away . This may not seem like much but after a long day on the trail , the last thing you need is a walk on hot pavement back to your car . To find the trail head drive to Lions Bay on Hwy. 99 . Take the right exit on Lions Bay Ave. Turn left on Cross Creek Road , then right on Center Road . Go left on Bayview and left on Mountain Drive . About 2 km. turn left on Sunset Drive . There is a small lot just before the gate . If this is full you have to go back down the hill and park at the school on Mountain Drive .

Details

Built in 1971, named after Paul Binkert of the BCMC. Primary access route to the West Lion.

The trail starts out on a logging road and is a good warm-up for your legs for the trip to come. After about 30-45 minutes of steady walking you will come to a fork in the road , take the road on your right . There is a cute little sign posted on a tree to the left of the road pointing the way . In a short time there are peek-a-boo views of Howe Sound though the trees aftre which the road starts to narrow into a trail . You should reach Harvey Creek in about 1 1/2 hrs. there is a slight descent here and if it's a hot day this is a good spot to stop for a break , soak up the cool air and refill your water bottle . After you rock hop across the creek it's back up hill and this can be strenuous for new hikers . The bulk of the elevation gain is ahead of you . After about 2 1/2 hours of climbing on switchbacks , over or around huge logs and rocks you'll reach a viewpoint . The waters of Howe Sound & Lions Bay are far below and you can see the slope of Mount Harvey with it's clearcut to the north . The rocks in this area are flat should you decide to put up a tent and explore the area for a few days . Going southeast from here up a rocky slope are wide open views , and the Howe Sound Crest Trail , which is 200 m above you . The day I was up the North Shore Search & Rescue group were on an outing and remarking the trail as well . Once you are on the rocky slope the trail is easy to pick up just follow the muddy boot prints and all the orange dots . The guys did a really good job of marking all the way to the top . Once you make your way up to the top of the ridge you will see Unnecessary Mountain to the south and the West Lion above you . As you head away from Unnecessary Mountain ( northeast ) there is one last bump to ask your tired legs to get you over . Look around at the view and think about the great lunch you are going to have and that should give you energy to make this last little climb . Once you hit the top the Lions are before you .

The view is outstanding . Vancouver lays below with Mt. Baker in the distance . The snowcapped mountains of Vancouver Island to the west with the Gulf Islands , Garibaldi Park - Diamond Head to the north and the Tantalus Range to the northwest .

Now for the warnings : if you have your lunch on the rocks at the base of the East Lion be careful of the edge on the west side . The drop would be certain death . Several people have died climbing the West Lion so use caution if you attempt this.

Route description from September, 2008:

All of the following times are for a solid pace:

-Pass some sort of water treatment facility on your right (5 min).

-First fork in the road. Left heads to Brunswick and Hat. Go right; there is a rock arrow on the ground (15 min).

-Pass two more trail junctions - always stay right. First has the fancy "The Lions" painted sign. (Left here goes to Brunswick.) Trail levels off after the second junction. (Left there goes to North slope of Harvey.)

-Pass trailhead to Mt. Harvey on your left (45 min).

-Cross rock/landslide.

-Cross Alberta Creek.

-Follow trail as it turns the corner of the mountain and starts heading up the Harvey Creek valley.

-Trail starts getting more rocky with some water bars. Ceases being flat.

-Trail for the Lions/Unnecessary is on your right. Look for signs in the trees to the right and paint on the rock on the trail (1 hr, 10 min).

-Descend to the creek. Built steps have metal/wire on them for grip. One small ladder to the creek.

-Cross Harvey Creek on very well constructed bridge.

-Follow trail through old growth around a few larger boulders. There is rope on your right ensuring you don't miss the trail on the way down.

-Turn left and head uphill at the BCMC sign.

-Trail ascends fairly steeply. Follow flagging and metal tree markers. Some blowdown to go under, over or around. As of September, 2008, the blowdown is still there, but there are well trodden and flagged paths to follow.

-Minor viewpoint about 2/3 up.

-Break out of the trees. Views to Mr. Harvey and Harvey Creek watershed to the north, Northern slope of the West Lion is to your south (2 hours, 10 min).

-Follow the trail south (right as you come out of the trees) and follow it as it picks its way through boulders and scree. Follow flagging and cairns.

-Trail meets up with Howe Sound Crest Trail (2 hours, 45 min). Trail to the Lions is to the left. Trail to Unnecessary is to the right.

-Go left and follow well marked (painted on the rock and flagged) trail (3 hours, 15 min).

-At the obvious point on the top of a knoll, you have 3 choices. 1) turn around. 2) descend the gully to the east leading to the West Lion and follow that trail. 3) Follow the trail past the BCMC and BC Parks sign on the tree to the south, descend a bit, and follow trail over to West Lion.

Photographs

GPS Waypoints

Parking N49.47084 W123.23476 10U 482992 5479825
Water resevoir N49.47350 W123.23371 10U 483068 5480121
Watershed access road junction N49.47307 W123.23091 10U 483271 5480073
Mount Harvey Trail junction N49.46495 W123.22238 10U 483887 5479168
Alberta Creek waterfall N49.46471 W123.21961 10U 484087 5479141
Minor viewpoint N49.45986 W123.21512 10U 484411 5478601