For great mountain views of the Canadian North Cascades do this short hike. Its close to the lower mainland, doesn't see a lot of traffic and provides quick respite to the rigors of urban stress.
Years ago Ford Mountain had a Forest Fire Lookout but that has since disappeared. You can imagine what it must have been like spending a night here during a raging electric storm, hoping the lightning rod would do its job. Some gnarled and charred trees are around the hummocky summit area attesting to recent high voltage outbursts.
Rewards are high with austere mountain vistas. To the north lays the Cheam Range with Welch (2377m) and Foley (2286m) the highest peaks to the east. Directly across the Chilliwack River to the south, the Nesakwatch Creek Valley with Slesse Mountain (2377m) at its headwaters stands dominant.
Looking over to Slesse Mountain its famed NE Buttress directly faces you. This mountain route has been a technical prize for climbers since eminent mountaineer Fred Beckey climbed it in August 1963. In 1956, a winter storm caused a DC-3 to crash just right of the buttress killing all 62 passengers.
The trail is accessed by about 4 kilometres of steep logging road. The last 3 km require a 4x4. Add about an hour or so if you choose to hike the road through two small cut-blocks. In the fall the roadside is covered with fireweed and is quite pleasant so it's not all that bad to walk where most will drive. The trail begins with a Chilliwack Forest Service map (no longer present - see below) and follows square orange trail markers steeply through mountain hemlock groves. In another hour or so you should reach the 1421m summit. When you finish climbing the switchbacks that get you up the mountain, you'll think, where is the peak area for my 360-degree views. You'll get those, but not until walking a few kilometers along the ridge to the actual peak where the old concrete posts are. There are even some alpine flowers up top, in the peak area.
If you are on limited time, do this hike. It's a good pump if you want to push it--it is rather steep. For those that want to go slowly It's short. How ever you do it, you'll be glad you did even it is just for the sake of ridding your mind of visions of gonzo motorists, crying babies and hordes of people. The trail is an ideal one, cut out of moss covered forest floor. Again, although you can drive much of the steep logging road up on, you are eventually on a steep hiking trail, there is no 'road' to the top. Most people would in fact park much further below and avoid all the logging road ditches. For great mountain views of the Canadian North Cascades do this short hike. Its close to the lower mainland, doesn't see a lot of traffic and provides quick respite to the rigors of urban stress.
Best June to October.
There is GPS data attached to this trail (see "download GPS"), which if loaded into your GPS can help you find route points.
Location: Chilliwack River Valley. Topographic Map 92 H/4 1:50,000
Access: Drive Hwy One to Chilliwack. Follow signs to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. At the Chilliwack River Bridge turn left and follow the river east for about 28.5 kilometres and turn left on the Ford Mountain Forest Service Road. This is just past the "Ford Mountain Correctional Institution?; there will be a large sign for the "prison". Then you'll cross the Chilliwack river one more time and look for the FSR on the left, a bit further. A GPS map was produced; see above. It is four kilometres to the trailhead from the highway. 2-wheel drive vehicles will only make it so far--4x4s may make it another 2-3km if they can cross the logging road 'ditches'. There are a number of pullouts suitable for parking a vehicle, if you find you are not comfortable climbing the steep road any longer. Note: If you are driving up the road, you'll notice you come to a locked gate on the main logging road. Some might be tempted to park here and continue walking along the 'main' road, but don't do that. Looking back and left of the gate, you will see a narrower 4x4 road rise steeply away. This is your route. Maybe 500 meters up this road, the hike starts, as one would expect, on a steep single-track trail. Your best bet is to park below, or at the gate area. See GPS data marking the road turnoff (FSR), the 2 wheel drive parking area (estimated, 2 wheel drive vehicles can go as far as the first "ditch" in the road), and where we parked our 4x4.
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Posted By: MLShoe
- Sat May 26 22:34:23 EDT 2012
UpsideGreat fast cardio hike if you want to push yourself! Well marked trails, easy to spot the next way to go when the snow is covering the ground. It was nice to have the incline at the beginning and have it level out somewhat for the second half. Great veiw points, not quite comparable to Elk mtn.
DownsideWish the view could have been a bit better, but can't complain ! It was great :)
CommentDefinitely will have this in the books to do again, perhaps once the snow is gone. Would like to add on williams ridge to it as well.
Posted By: HaLu
- Sun Apr 24 20:56:14 EDT 2011
UpsideNice outlook on top, sweet trail through the forest and little waterfalls on the way up
DownsideCan be quite challenging in snow, hiking on the service road may be boring
CommentMy husband and I did this hike yesterday. We started from the very bottom and hiked the service road pretty relaxed with a rate of travel of 2,5 km/h. We had constant snow since the 750 m mark and from 900 m on deep snow on steep and winding but well marked terrain. Although we had no snowshoes and hiking poles the hike was doable with a little bit more effort in the snow (rate of travel 1 km/h). About 500 meters before the peak travelling became more difficult since there was a lot of snow and the trail marks were almost invisible. One has also to look out for tree wells. Going back was certainly easier. <BR>In sum it is possible to hike this trail at the end of April although it has some challenges. If you are lucky as we were with a sunny and clear day it can be a beautiful hike and the outlook on snowy mountains is gorgeous.
Posted By: brancher
- Mon Oct 18 03:56:09 EDT 2010
UpsideWell marked, excellent trail. The river below was full of fishers, the ATV's and dirt bikes were out in droves - but not a sound on this mountain.
CommentGreat hike, stupendous views all around and not a cloud in the sky. What more could one ask for.
Posted By: rvank
- Tue Jun 24 22:15:27 EDT 2008
Upsidegood workout. Straight up, straight down.
Downsidemediocre view compared with some other hikes in the area
Posted By: chrisdin
- Thu Jul 14 01:05:16 EDT 2005
Upsideeasy to find, and get to with 4x4
Downsidemust have nice day to enjoy veiws
Commentif you are looking for a short hike in the chilliwack area. This one is a good one
Posted By: stargazer
- Tue Dec 28 16:32:09 EST 2004
UpsideShort hike. On a clear day really nice views of surrounding mountains/valleys.
DownsideRequires 4x4 to park at trail head. Steep on first part of trail.
CommentHave done this one several times and never tire of it. Parked at the start of trail. Did the hike on Sunday Dec 26 04. Made it to summit in 45 minutes. There was about 3" of powder at the top.
Posted By: MJDJ
- Sun Sep 19 22:51:06 EDT 2004
UpsideGood workout, but not lethal if you're out-of-shape!
DownsideNot much in the way of views until you reach the summit.
CommentUnlike a lot of the hikes in this area, this one has very little garbage, a nice change! Although it was cloudy on my visit, Max (our dog) and I had a nice time anyway! The summit is slowly loosing its "views" as the timbers are starting to grow, especially to the North! The summit itself is a small area, good enough for a tent!
Posted By: mountaingirl
- Wed Oct 08 04:11:49 EDT 2003
CommentDid this hike with my 10 year old son last weekend. We made it to the top in under an hour and a half and that was with plenty of stops along the way to poke around and explore. Great views. Trail continues for 6km to Williams Peak if you are so inclinded.