Difficulty: Moderate - some minimal route finding needed, and there is a lot of deadfall the last 3 Km.
Hiking time: 4 to 6 hours depending on your average ascent speed.
Elevation gain: 3200 feet.
There is nothing special about this trail, except that it has some great views, which are accessible early in the season.
At the beginning of the hike (trailhead), there is a gate and two signs, one giving you the distance to the top, and another one indicating that you are in fact on the Bear Mountain forest service road. Go past the gate and you start gaining altitude immediately. You will soon pass a rusty old boiler of sorts, and after the first turn, something that looks like an old storage building. In the beginning the trail is more like a gravel road, but after about 30 minutes hiking the road deteriorates and walking on it becomes more pleasant.
After 45 minutes, or around 920 feet of elevation gain, you arrive at a lovely little waterfall and the first chance (and the only one unless you go to Bear lake) of getting cooled off. Keep in mind that this is also the water source for the community at the trailhead. Pushing on, you continue to hike the switchbacks steadily gaining elevation. The next little resting spot is after 1 hr 15 minutes at 1600 vertical feet from the parking lot. This is a good snack spot for a job half done, but save your camera for later. You do get some views from this spot, but there are far greater opportunities for great pictures further up. Between 2200 and 2600 feet or 2 hours of hiking as you pass two talus slopes, you get some wicked views of Harrison Lake and mountains to the north and northwest of the lake. Some great views of the Harrison River are also right in front of you. This river is finally joining the Fraser further downstream. This is the time to get your camera from your backpack and take some pictures.
Passing the viewpoints and talus slopes, you soon arrive at the intersection for Bear Lake to your right, and the trail to the Bear Mountain Lookout to the left. Continuing towards the lookout, you will find that the trail soon gets overgrown with deadfall and trees. The trail also becomes single track at points. Due to all the deadfall it is advisable to use hiking pants regardless of the temperature. The trail continues for another 2.5 km before you reach a not too obvious trail on your left side, the best sign being that the Service Road/Trail is going no further. To this point you have only gained another 450 feet from the two talus slopes. Making the left turn, the trail becomes faint, and you have to rely on your sense of direction at points. Look for the red squares, and a distance marker saying 9 km. At the beginning the trail gains some altitude, and keeps to the right of a little ridge. You will slowly go left and cross some small ponds, being on the left side of a little valley. Follow the ridge as far as it goes, trying not to stride too much left. The ridge narrows as you reach your destination, the Bear Mountain lookout. It is like turning on the light inside your tent at night. Coming out of the forest, and all of a sudden you see the whole Fraser Valley in front of you. The Cheam Mountain range straight ahead, Hope to your left, Mount Baker in the distance and on a very clear day without too much smog, Vancouver on the right. Total hiking time to the lookout should not be more than 2 hrs 30 minutes for an intermediate hiker and 3 hrs 30 minutes for a slower pack. Going down is fast once you pass the Bear Lake intersection, and total hiking time should not exceed 5 hours. The views being enormous at the lookout, you might want to add another hour or so for lunch at the peak.
Being back at the trailhead, make sure you have some time to spare in Harrison for a swim in the lake or a dinner in one of the local eateries.
To get to the trailhead you have to take the Number 1 Trans-Canadian Highway or Highway 7 towards Harrison Hotsprings. Once in the township of Harrison Hotsprings make a right turn at Lillooet Avenue, and continue 5 km until you reach a small hill. Just before the top of the hill make a right turn onto a gravel road, and this is the trailhead just 50 meters off the road.
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Posted By: punkinhoot
- Wed Aug 26 14:47:08 UTC 2015
UpsideThis trail was featured in an episode of BBC's "Top Gear," as a 4X4 challenge to (not) rescue Richard Hammond. DownsideThey weren't up to the challenge. 2 trucks stuck on the side of a mountain, neither in operating condition. I'm sure it was a b* to get them hauled out of there. I hope they picked up the garbage from 4 days camping too. CommentThe guys at Top Gear finally drove some North American pick-ups in the environment they are built for. They fell in love. I find this odd, since both trucks left them stranded, and neither had a bed big enough for a sled...which is what they really needed. Did I mention this episode was filmed in winter?
Posted By: sugzinho
- Wed May 28 19:03:13 UTC 2014
Upsidehiked this yesterday...perfect conditions....people warned me its' hard but it's actually very easy....gradient on the first 6km is quite gentle...coming down is very fast....we did it in 3.30...there's a nice shop at the top which sells ice cream
Posted By: happyhopers
- Fri Jul 26 21:13:30 UTC 2013
UpsideInfo for goaroundglobe DownsideGPS coords can be found on these links: http://coord.info/GCKG4K http://coord.info/GC1HN8B CommentBoth of the above links are to geocaches along the hike. They have some waypoints for trail junctions to the lake or the lookout and also a coordinates for the trailhead.
Posted By: goaroundglobe
- Thu Jul 04 02:49:03 UTC 2013
UpsideNot busy at all, most of the hike is in the shade, which helps on a sunny day DownsideDifficult to find trailhead, no markings whatsoever, and the mentioned gate to look for is not visible from the road. This trail hasn't been maintained for a while CommentFirst challenge is to even find trailhead. Do zero your odometer as soon as your tun on Lillooet Ave and take right exit at exactly 4.8-4.9k depending on your car. Park and start your hike following old logging road. We hiked up for about 5km and I am still not sure if we stayed on the right trail. There are at least three forks leading left or right. Checking with Trails app on my iphone, I could tell that we were going the right direction but then again, logging road disappeared a few times and turned into very narrow and overgrown trail and back to logging road again. My party was getting a bit irritated and whinny due to very hot day. I am planning to go back and get to the top in September this year. If anyone has GPS or can confirm which one is the right way, please post here. Thanks! We'll post some pictures at www.goaroundglobe.com
Posted By: kzachary
- Mon Jun 07 18:24:50 UTC 2010
UpsideIncredible panoramic view at the top! DownsideFirst 6km or so are kind of monotonous and uninteresting in terrain. Just a steady slog up. Lots and lots of bugs! CommentI hiked this trail on June 5th, 2010. We had perfect weather - not too hot or too cold. The view at the top is well worth the long slog of the switcbacks that climb the side of the mountain. The last couple km of the trail are more varied in terrain but the bulk of the climbing is already done at this point. It was a bit boggy in a couple of places near the top (probably from rain earlier in the week) so good boots were an asset!
Posted By: brancher
- Sat Dec 26 06:02:28 UTC 2009
UpsideWe hiked this trail on a clear day in late Oct. 2008. The panoramic view at the lookout was stunning. DownsideThe dead fall in some spots was a little challenging but good exercise. CommentWe had only intended to go as far as the lake but couldn't resist the tempting 'lookout' sign once we got there. It was dark by the time we got back down the mountain but the spectacular views made it all worthwhile. The mountain probably got its name from its appearance from a distance. We've seen bears anywhere else but here.
Posted By: amelia.gwen
- Fri Jul 24 23:29:20 UTC 2009
UpsideI have never seen this view before! The last stretch of the hike leads you to a small clearing where you can see along the Fraser River from Vancouver to Hope. Its from the opposite side of most hikes in this area, so it is unique. DownsideThis trail really needs to get some markers. We ended up trampling along a deer trail through the bush on the way up. The turn off isn't easy to find. Use GPS or read the directions carefully. Oh, and if you're planning on swimming, hop in Harrison lake, the one on Bear Mountain is more of a swamp, although very pretty. Caution, its all uphill there and downhill back. CommentI recommend this hike. On a prime hiking day mid-July we saw only one other couple on the trail and no bears. Took us 6 hours hiking at a fast pace with breaks.
Posted By: rmcdonnell
- Thu Jun 19 03:40:36 UTC 2008
UpsideNice greenery. Nice view. DownsideNot maintained at all. No signposts at many forks. Plan an extra couple of hours for navigation.
Posted By: wendylori
- Mon Mar 20 21:26:32 UTC 2006
UpsideNice views, especially in spring before leaves have grown in. Good way to get in shape for more difficult hikes. DownsideCan be difficult to navigate - there are a number of roads that lead off of the trail. there is still alot of snow in mid march. CommentBring some snowshoes - or go later in the season.
Posted By: westons
- Sat Mar 05 22:55:39 UTC 2005
UpsideStrenuous hike for those wishing to get in shape. Terrific view from the peak. DownsideLong slog up a dusty road for much of the way, with an unrelenting inclination. CommentToo much deadfall to make for a pleasant day of hiking.
Posted By: Stratoblaster
- Tue Apr 27 00:39:37 UTC 2004
UpsideGreat Views DownsideRoad walking and depressing forest along with only a few viewpoints on the trail. CommentI hiked the trail with my group on Sunday April 25 and there is a lot of deadfall on the trail. Also, the snow starts after the junction to Bear Lake and all of the Vine Maple trees that line the trail are bent over onto the trail due to the weight of the snow. As a result, progress is very slow for the last 3 km. I would recommend waiting until the snow melts and some of the trees spring back up off of the trail unless you are willing to add another 2 hours to a hike that usually takes 7 hours.
Posted By: jeannette
- Mon Jun 16 06:22:30 UTC 2003
UpsideNice views and a shady walk on a hot day. DownsideNew exploration with heavy machinery on the road. The hike itself does not offer too much of a change in scenery. CommentHiking Bear Mountain in Bear Season with just one Bear Spray for the hiking party is not for the faint of heart...