The Elaho valley is a natural masterpiece holding 1000 year old ancient cedars. The Douglas fir and cedar trees are cloaked in thick mosses and a wet haze. It is an incredibly lush rainforest, and walking the soft forest floor of the Fir loop trail gives you a first hand feeling of what rainforest is all about. Yet this special area is threatened - as is other areas in the Stoltman wildnerness area. The day we visited, it was raining, and that is how a rainforest should be seen; wet, green, and thick with life.
The hike, developed by Western Wilderness Committee is a short one and appropriate for just about anyone. The scenery is breathtaking, and the trees amazing. Your climb down a small canyon, cross a small river (above) and climb again to take on a great view of the valley below, then you level out for your hike through the main attraction, an ancient grove of Fir and Cedar. You will feel connected to this earth visiting a place like this, however all that gets shattered when you complete the last portion of the hike through the clearcut area.
Guided trips can be taken however, and we found this the best way to visit since the bus conveniently takes you from Vancouver to the Elaho Valley. The additional information on natural history and forest interpretation given by your guides also makes this a a good choice, even if you are a hardcore hiker (there were a number on our trip).
NOTE: The small hiking loop we are describing here should not be confused with the 2-day Meager-Ealaho hike also shown on the map above.
The drive itself to the Fir Loop trail takes 3 hours, and it is quite an adventure in itself. It usually includes a waterfall stop, a bathroom stop (not at the same place) and many calls out on radio to alert logging trucks of your prescence. Again a vote for a tour if you have an aversion to driving active logging roads. Those with a 4x4 can certainly make it, you'll see others on the road besides logging trucks. The river rafting and kayaking along the Elaho is also world renowned and you'll pass by some pretty scared looking people getting ready for their raft. The Elaho area is part of a larger area called the Stoltmann wildnerness area that is receiving a lot of media attention lately - as preservation concerns mount. For more information, please see www.wildernesscommittee.org, and let us know what you think of the area if you go. If you drive yourself, you'll want to get to Squamish before turning off the Sea-to-Sky highway and continuing as follows.
Most cars in reasonable running order can make this trip. You do not need a 4-wheel-drive or pick-up truck. Check your odometer at the Squamish McDonald's. Drive north on Hwy 99. (All distances are approximate) Don't forget to gas up! At 9.9 km, turn left onto the Squamish Valley Road. At 13.5km keep left at the fork in the road. At 33 km, the road turns to gravel as you enter International Forest Products (Interfor's) Tree Farm License #38. The logging road is named "S-Main" and is marked with mile signs (distance back to Squamish). At 34 km keep right, don't cross the bridge to your left. At 61 km, at mile 37, keep left and cross the bridge over the Squamish River.
This is the 'E-Main' logging road, following the Elaho River. At 71 km, near mile 39, keep right on 'E-Main'. Do not take 'G-Main' to the left over the bridge to Sims Creek. At 96 km keep left at 'E-1000/E-Main' fork to continue on E-1000. At the 'E-1000/E-Main West' fork keep right and continue up E-1000. Just south of Sundown Cr. is the Elaho Giant trail. (The Elaho Giant Camp is a great place to camp if you're arriving at night, with a good water source at Sundown Creek). Continue over the Sundown bridge along E-1000. The new Elaho trail access is located on the left side of the road, just south of Lava Cr. (approximately 102 km. out of Squamish).
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Posted By: wes m
- Sun Nov 28 18:02:35 EST 2010
QuestionI would like to get away snow shoeing and am wondering if the road to the fir loop is passable or has it snow'd to much in the last weekANSWERS are in this forum: elaho in winter
Posted By: freeridebryce
- Thu Jul 24 13:00:34 EDT 2003
UpsideNice valley, few people, some old growth
DownsideA long ways to go for so little
CommentIts a nice area for hiking but for such a long drive in I would expect more.
Posted By: trailpeak
- Mon May 19 02:24:50 EDT 2003
CommentThis ladder bridge is apparently no longer there -- DO NOT USE OR ATTEMPT TO CROSS RIVER -- IT IS VERY DANGEROUS.