The most under-appreciated hike in the Fraser Valley
With stunning waterfalls and huge trees, the hike to Eaton Lake is not to be missed, according to author Stephen Hui.
This story was originally published in the May 28, 2001, edition of the Fraser Valley Current newsletter. The road to Eaton Lake is currently closed because of last year’s flooding.
The Fraser Valley is a hiker’s paradise. But in a region where no hike is the same and plenty are heavily trafficked, it can be tough figuring out where to go next. Luckily, BC writer Stephen Hui has a new book that seeks to answer just that question. Destination Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia is a guide to 55 great trips near Vancouver, including a dozen in and around the Fraser Valley area.
We asked him a simple question: what is the most under-appreciated hike in our region? He wavered a bit, noting that he liked the quietness of the Taggart Peak climb on Sumas Mountain, beyond the Abby Grind. But he concluded that Eaton Lake, down Silver Skagit Road outside of Hope, was probably the spot for locals to put on their to-hike list.
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The road is gravel but navigable with a 2-wheel-drive car. The hike is 8.5km long and takes about 5.5 hours total, there and back. There is camping at the top, at Eaton Lake itself.
Hui: “It’s a wonderful trail and it’s been around for decades, but it’s still under the radar. Most hikers haven’t heard of it… You’re starting at the Eaton Lake recreation site, just this small dinky campground with a deteriorating outhouse (Hui last visited 2 years ago) and it’s a steep trail.”
“It’s just an all-around great hike, but it is steep, so you’re going to sweat a lot, you’re going to get tired… I’ve rated it as a moderate hike. What’s great about it is you go by three waterfalls, and there’s one that’s particularly nice, a horse-tail waterfall on Eaton Creek. You’re kind of heading up Eaton Creek to Eaton Lake, so it’s a waterfall hike, but it’s also a big-tree hike because there are big ancient trees along the way.
“It’s a really great forest hike with waterfalls, and then you get up to the lake. The lake is a big lake in a mountain bowl with mountains overlooking it and rock slides and it’s just a fantastic place to go for a swim. And people camp there. I remember when I was up there last time, there were a father and daughter up there camping and they had just caught a rainbow trout and were cooking it, and it was such a moment for the daughter. She was so proud to have caught her first rainbow trout and to be cooking and eating it.”
Eaton is well-known to some, but remains off the radar for many. Reviews from last year suggest that even during one of the busiest outdoor summers on record, traffic was still modest on the route. Hui notes in his book that the Wilderness Committee have called for the protection of the upper Silverhope watershed, within which Eaton Lake and the trail sits. Hui’s book can be purchased from local booksellers or online.