A steep, no-nonsense charge upward to an alpine meadow and small lake, with opportunities to explore the basin. Route-finding skills necessary at times when the trail magically disappears. There are well-placed pockets of running water along the way. It's a tad remote, but with 4 hikes in the immediate area, worth the trip out.
The fact that you have to search out the trailhead a little hints at what the rest of the trail will be like in places. You have to start off down an old jeep track, now grass-covered, and through a few minutes of beautiful meadow before a solitary flag announces the trail's beginning.
For 30 minutes you'll amble through shockingly green corridoors of cedar and fern with a gently undulating, clearly defined trail.
Next you burst into a hanging valley so dominated by plantlife that it exhales its own warm, moist air. At this point you can see the surrounding peaks and a little ways up the valley. Berry bushes and the occasional stinging nettle encroach upon the trail, but, surprisingly (due to its remoteness), it seems to get enough traffic that the trail never quite disappears.
Eventually you re-enter a short patch of shady forest where you'll have to cross the main stream. At the very end of July the crossing was not dangerous and simply required a few well-aimed rock-hops. The route quickly re-emerges into the sweltering greenery.
Now things get tricky. When the trail nears the stream again, keep an eye out for a crossing. It was miserably signed when I went, but hopefully the flagging I've added will help the next hapless wanderer. Once across the stream (again, not too much trouble) look up at the long debris chute - you're going up that. It doesn't matter how, since you will undoubtedly lose the snippets of trail along the way. Look for the top of a rock wall, where the grade eases - that's where the trail re-appears. Don't worry, once the chute starts to peter out, you're bound to come across one segment of the trail or another. Your best bet is to stay on the right of the chute, out of the brush (which is mostly nettles) and stick to the high point (makes a bit of a spine most of the way up).
There is run-off in the debris gulley, which is the last water until the lake.The climb will take about 45 minutes before it zags right into some trees. There is a small flat, shady spot with perfect sitting logs - I recommend a rest since the vertical is only half done, and is about to get worse.
You'll quickly shoot out into the open slope again, at the mercy of the elements, and wonder what the trail-builders had against switchbacks. At times you have to grope for roots and rocks, hoping they won't come loose, and it feels like you're gaining more height than distance. There are moments where the trail levels and aims right, and you think "this must be the end of it" but it isn't.
This only happens a few tear-inducing times before you find yourself in a very alpine-ish meadow with large boulders and snow patches which signifies the true end of the climb. Should take about 1.5 hours in total.
From trailhead to lake you gain 650 meters, and I would wager 400 of those is straight from valley bottom to lakeshore in that unrelenting push.
Mere minutes after the end of the climb you find yourself lakeside. It's a small one, but has lovely colouring, and the outlet disappears over the edge of a cliff, giving it that "infinity pool" feel.
From here, everything is wide open to explore at will. There is a flat, grassy area just across the outlet where there is evidence of past campers. There is also a ridge-top traverse to Twin Lakes, with possibilities of coming out at a secondary trailhead, but the way is unmarked and requires topo maps.
Give yourself 3 hours to come up, and 2.5 down.
Along HWY 6 from Cherryville, drive East until you see the Goldpanner Cafe & Campground. Less than 2km from here, watch on the left hand side for the South Fork FSR, with wooden signs showing distances to the various hikes (there are 4 up here).
At about 2.5km stay right at the junction, then left at the next one. It is straight-forward from there until a fork after km 14 which is left for this hike, right for Pinnacle Lake (there is a great camp spot next to a creek just a few meters in on the right fork). Take a right at the next fork (Mt. Beaven is left).
The parking lot is around the 20km mark.
The road is excellent (average 40km/hr) until the 14km fork, then it is still fine for a regular vehicle, just with some short sections of steep with loose rock.
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Posted By: Cottonline
- Sat Aug 27 21:23:08 UTC 2016
CommentThe bridge on the south Fork access road is being replaced. According to government website the project should 7-10 days and I've heard unconfirmed reports that the replacement started Aug 8, 2016.
Posted By: alpinelady
- Mon Aug 01 02:53:34 UTC 2016
UpsideAmazing and beautiful, many places to explore DownsideBring extra clothes, the weather changes frequently. CommentAugust long weekend and saw bear tracks. While hiking to Riolux we saw a huge grizzly bear coming down.
Posted By: tlf135
- Sun Jul 06 15:48:27 UTC 2014
UpsideNew vegetation is everywhere and nature is at it's best. We did this hike last Thursday July 3rd. There is a log across the road at approx 20km (1/2 mile from trail head) that prevents you from getting to the parking lot at the trail head. A section of the log has been cut out but only enough to allow an atv through. No worries...you can still park at the log and walk .5 mile in to the trail head area. I had only done this hike once before about 24 years ago so we struggled finding the trail here and there. When you get through the forested area and into the high meadow area (before the assent up the rock/steep clim to the lake) water and snow prevented us from continuing :( Warning...do not walk on the snow as there is melted and running streams beneath it. It will likely be early Aug before you can get into the lake unless you are an advanced climber with gear. The trail is not clearly marked and hopefully someone will do this soon as I plan to attempt the lake in a months time.
Posted By: Cottonline
- Tue Jul 30 03:43:44 UTC 2013
UpsideBeautiful area. CommentHiked in for a couple of nights on July 10 2013. The road wash out from 2012 had been 100% repaired. It was 32Â° in the valley and our water froze at night. Monashee Lake was about 70% frozen when we arrived and down to %30 when we left. Had we hiked in any earlier we would have had a hard time finding level ground for a tent pad out of the snow.
Posted By: ctopf
- Sat Jul 28 23:17:39 UTC 2012
CommentI have not checked out the trail this summer, but I heard from the Vernon Outdoors Club that the South Fork road has washed out even before the turnoff to Mt Beaven. As a result Monashee Lake (and Mt Beaven) are not accessible from the South Fork Road. These hikes were subsquently removed from their 2012 hiking scheduld. The club member did not know if the Forest Service will be repairing the road. One can always make their way from Twin Lakes to Monashee Lake over the Berger Traverse and go back to Twin Lakes. It would take 2-3 days.
Posted By: hikerbabe
- Sat Jun 30 21:06:20 UTC 2012
QuestionHi there. I am looking to head possible to Monashee Lake near Cherryville next weekend. Does anyone know of the current trial conditions and snow level there?
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks.ANSWERS are in this forum: monashee lake current trail conditions