The gravel road McNair Creek rd sort of turns into this trail for Panther peak. Marking/flagging might become difficult to spot at times after trail swings uphill from McNair creek. Trace of footing is often very faint to non-exsitent. The scenery after real trail starting point is quite beautiful all the way. One section of about 400m or so between McNair creek and Upper McNair lake is extremely slippery. After treeline is past ascent gets easier again if weather is clear.
Take Port Mellon hwy on the right immediately after leaving the ferry terminal. Follow the hwy about 10km and turn left right before McNair creek bridge. Keep going straight and follow this road for about 3.5k. There are about 40 waterbars. You will need a high clearance 4WD. You will reach a dam. Park your car and start from here. If you are ok with scratching the car, you can proceed another 1km or so.
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Posted By: trailrunner
- Sat Sep 11 04:40:20 UTC 2010
UpsideWHAT I LIKED Truly outstanding view form the top. It gets more beautiful beyond the end of logging road, then after reaching Upper McNair lake it gets progressively more scenic. Entire trip all but myself, and only birds. Worth going up there despite the poor trail condition on sunny day. DownsideWHAT I WISHED THE TRAIL HAD IT Unfortunately majority of sections were not runnable. I wished the growth of alder & other grasses were more stunted by the traffic. Less divergent trails or flagged routes would be nice. If people went on the same trail maybe that was possible. Clear and more marking or flagging after Upper McNair lake would be nice- there was very little to none in this section. Next flagging is usually not immediately visible so sometimes you need to stop minute and walk around to find the next step.
I should have brought the ribbon myself to contribute. Lost in the way and wondered around more than 2hrs. Less prickly salmon berry would be nice on lower section as it is difficult to grab. Today it was so slippery I fell so many times, mostly on roots and small shrubs past McNair lake. Comment After last fall's failure, I accepted that I needed to wear long pants to run for this trail, though I run only in shorts even in winter. In this trail, even when you only walk, long pants is a good idea. This year I parked my car at the McNair dam(3.5k from Port Mellon hwy), as overall plant growth increased into the road and road got some new washouts, windfalls and deeper water bars. I hope this report gives enough preparation for you especially if you are not very advanced hiker & still decide to go this route. It is possible to get to the top, but difficult for someone who is used only to clear trails like myself. And good to include ample buffer time for getting lost.
1 MCNAIR DAM TO THE LAST WASHOUT ON OLD LOGGING RD I needed to keep brushing off the grasses even at this starting point at the dam which is ATV passsable. This is because there is a plant growth in the middle and cannot see the foothold if you run in the middle. After the first slide(in 2-3k?), the growth is also increased though there were some spots someone cut the grasses on both sides(Thank you!). About half of old logging road section after the first slide was somehow runnable this yr(lot more last yr). After the 7th slide and trail goes up and into the forest.
2 REAL TRAIL STARTING POINT TO MCNAIR LAKE The grass still covers up the trail at times as there are openings between those magnificent Hemlock-Amabilis fir-Cypress old growth stands, but generally lot more like a regular trail until McNair lake. The trail eventually comes right next to a beautiful stream of NcNair creek, then it suddenly goes up hill along a tiny creek right before(about 100m or so)McNair Lake. This section is runnable.
3 MCNAIR LAKE TO UPPER MCNAIR LAKE On the map(Sunshine coast supermap) it does not look very steep after turning up from McNair creek, but it is. The trail also got very faint & flagging was lost often from here and I did get lost about 30mins wondering around. But strangely on my way back, flagging was clear most of the way at this section. In this section perhaps only about 400m or even less of grouse grind incline level stretch but is incredibly slippery and you need to hang on to dear life on the tree branches to go up or down. For someone without hiking skill like myself this took a very long time. This section is almost all unrunnable. Here I was unable to find the trail down from Upper McNair to McNair lake on my way back and I lost more than 60mins wondering around Upper McNair lake. - So it is important to remember how to get reconnected to return route at there.
4- UPPER MCNAIR LAKE TO THE PEAK The trail eventually gets to more gentle incline and reach some sort of ridge. And soon you will see the beautiful alpine lake(Upper McNair) on the left. You can see from here the semi-pre peaks of Panther. This is another section I got lost about 15mins, until I found a clear recognizable trail near the lake going in one direction. This trail started to swing towards Panther peak direction, and even this becomes very faint and disappear from time to time without clear flagging or paint, but you can sort of guess where to go rather easily on the way up. But you need to stop & constantly look out so that you won't get lost. The ascent gets easier to recognize as you go higher without getting lost as you are aiming towards the pre-peak straight up. After the pre-peak, you see the real peak very clearly. So you simply follow the ridge. After the pre-peak. It is all runnable. From the Upper lake to the pre-peak, about 30% runnable. Now on the way down, I got lost several times by taking the wrong ridge or wrong side of the ridge to far out towards south, and I had to come back all the way- lost at least 30mins there.
SUMMARY & TIME From the dam to the peak; 165mins(including about 45mins getting lost). Return 230mins(including at least 90mins getting lost). I might have been lacking some attention, but some people might get lost in the same way as I got lost. Note where I got lost is sometimes different between ascent and descent. I felt like most of the trip except at the very bottom and very top as a bushwhacking trip. I don't want to do this same trail again but the experience was worth it, especially the view from the top. Note downhill would have taken a lot longer even if I didn't get lost. It is very slippery all the way down to McNair Lake. Bring gloves to hold onto tree branches. Some kind of cane or pole might help, but prepare to free both hands.