Coquihalla Alpine Lakes - A Hiker's Paradise - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Default Coquihalla Alpine Lakes - A Hiker's Paradise

Ever been driving home down the Coq, on the Hope side, looked over to the high ridges on the left, and thought - That looks like an awesome hike? You might even recognize Jim Kelly, or Coquihalla Mountain in the background. After doing some research I talked a couple friends into helping me cut a trail to the group of lakes. Our first try was a big success, and when we broke through the pass we truly believed a new kingdom of hiking had been discovered.
The next weekend we were back, and had a try at descending into the valley, then cutting a trail up the other side. Our luck continued, a horse trail ended at the small lake in the valley bottom. This trail led to many wonderful things, and eventually all the way to Jim Kelly Mountain.
In part because we didn't want people leaving garbage on our trail, and also because I wanted to protect our "secret", the trailhead and first 50m of trail were never cut or marked. I've asked Karina (trail co-founder) if it's o.k. to post our route on CT. She was fine with that, and probably never cared to begin with. Our plans for a trip to Jim Kelly were cancelled by the rain, so I decided to clear the trail yesterday instead.
To get to the trailhead, drive through the toll booth then take exit #228, turn right on the parallel road, then left onto Tulameen FSR. At the 6km mark there is a fence and a filled-in cattleguard. At 6.5km the trail is on the right hand side, and is now marked with pink flagging. The trail cuts through a strip of forest, then across a marsh (not too bad- but watch for frogs), and then back into the forest. This is a well cut and marked trail all the way to the "alpine pass", there is no cutting or marking required beyond this point.
The trail described in pictures:

View across the marsh
Looking down on the marsh and pond
"Alpine pass"
Nearing the first lake
First Lake
Third Lake
Second Lake and Jim Kelly
Third Lake and Thar
Needle Peak and blueberries
Jim Kelly and Coquihalla
Lunchbreak pests
Yak with snowstorm
Needle Peak
Jim Kelly far away
Goodbye alpine
Heading back
Map

Alpine Lakes overview
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 12:10 PM
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I've been exploring the area the past few summers - this is the first I've heard of your trail though! B.C. Parks and more recent maps show the lakes named as "Baldwin Lakes".

There is an older, well used trail leading to the lakes from the 12 km mark on the road. It's fairly wide and was recently upgraded by the backcountry horsemen. I believe it connects with your map roughly at the point you have marked as "Horse Trail Begins". It's less direct than your trail, but still an interesting way into the alpine.



Nice work on the map annotations!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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I've hiked the Baldwin Lakes trail, and yes it does provide access to my "alpine lakes". Also there is a branch trail from Baldwin lakes to the ridges East of Dome, and a proper trail to Jim Kelly. My trail is a shortcut (under 2 hours), and is not intended as a re-invention but more as a way to link all the routes together. It sounds like you are also well versed in this fine area, so I'm not trying to correct you. Just wanted to say that I've been all around this part of the Coq, and didn't want to come across as some ignorant guy that thinks he's made a great discovery. We have been working on our trail since 1999, and it makes a fine easy dayhike - easier than Baldwin's trail.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Elkaholic

I've hiked the Baldwin Lakes trail, and yes it does provide access to my "alpine lakes". Also there is a branch trail from Baldwin lakes to the ridges East of Dome, and a proper trail to Jim Kelly. My trail is a shortcut (under 2 hours), and is not intended as a re-invention but more as a way to link all the routes together. It sounds like you are also well versed in this fine area, so I'm not trying to correct you. Just wanted to say that I've been all around this part of the Coq, and didn't want to come across as some ignorant guy that thinks he's made a great discovery. We have been working on our trail since 1999, and it makes a fine easy dayhike - easier than Baldwin's trail.
Nice In all honesty, I like the fact your trail is an extension of the existing horse trail - makes for a nice traverse across the alpine (previously you would have had to hike up the Baldwin Lakes Trail, turn right to visit the lakes, then backtrack).

Do you have a name for the trail? I've called the "12km" trail the Baldwin Lakes Trail since it was formerly the most direct route, but it's probably not the best name anymore name anymore []

I imagine that the traverse from your trailhead, through Baldwin Lakes, via the pass to Illal Peak/Lake, via the Jim Kelly/Coquihalla Col, and out via Jim Kelly FSR is effectively a single, epic trail now.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for making ammends, like you say the horsetrail ends at a certain point, and you have to hike up the steep slope below the lakes. Someone has built a new fire-pit at the main lake this summer, and their style is very horsey. There's a guy I met from Hope named Darren who used to work for an outfitter operating in this part of the Coquihalla. His boss passed away, and so did the business. Darren was able to show me a great deal of info on a map of the area, and they had their own place names for everything.
We've done the whole hike to Jim Kelly and back twice, and it's definitely in my top ten. On the first trip my partner injured his knee during the first hour, then toughed it out all the way to the peak. At the summit it stiffened up on him, and he ended up having to limp all the way home. It took us 7 hours to get back to the truck, and was an epic in our own minds - we ended up naming the hike "Wounded-knee".
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2008, 05:25 PM
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We've spent numerous nights up in that country via the Illal drainage and have explored the area a fair bit. We've made a few trips from Jim Kelly over to the Baldwin Lakes. There's also many other nifty little lakes and tarns on other ridges. Other old horsecamps dot the area.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 08:25 AM
 
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My cousin and I went on Sunday to explore the Baldwin Lakes area, an area that's interested me for a long time, especially now with the other end of the range becoming a lot more popular. Now, with the trail that Elkaholic cleared, access was much quicker. Crossing the swamp area was a different but fun experience. Once back in the timber, the trail does rise quite quickly and is easily followed for the most part. We pushed a lot of the light trail debris to the side and picked up a bunch of fallen flagging. We re-flagged a few areas where flagging had fallen down or the trail direction was not obvious, but not much was needed as it was already very well flagged.

We made it to the lakes in a couple of hours, followed the entire way by a horde of mosquitoes. The lakes area is gorgeous and allows for plenty of exploration.

I wanted to try to find the start of the horse trail, so we started downhill past the lakes and back into the subalpine area. We ended up bushwacking a few times until we reached the small lake and there lay the horse trail. This was to be our turn-around point. On the way back, we followed it back up the valley and saved ourselves the bushwacking bit.

I like it that you didn't add any flagging from the lakes area down to where the horse trail starts. In my opinion, it adds a sense of adventure and exploration to the hiking experience.




Swampy bit Needle Peak


Thanks again, Elkaholic, for sharing your trail with us.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Good to see the lakes clear of snow already. Thanks for helping with the flagging clean up, it needed to be done. In the future I'd like to see a proper trail without flags in place, but this would have to be done in cooperation with the ministry since the route is mostly in Park land. You should search out past TR's by ShadowChaser, and BillyGoat for this area, if you haven't already done so...


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post #9 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 09:36 AM
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WOW Tim, this is great! I can't wait to get up there. Thanks for sharing your secret!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 10:28 AM
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Hi,

Wauw, that looks awesome!! I would love to go there with the kids. I'll have a look at the map when I get home, but what distance and elevation gain are we talking about from TH to the Alpine lakes?

Are you allowed to camp there?

tx!
Bas
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by ge-an_bas

Hi,

Wauw, that looks awesome!! I would love to go there with the kids. I'll have a look at the map when I get home, but what distance and elevation gain are we talking about from TH to the Alpine lakes?

Are you allowed to camp there?

tx!
Bas
The hike in is only 1500 feet elevation gain, and probably something like 3.5km. We are going to camp up there in late summer with our kids, once the bugs are gone.

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post #12 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 11:22 AM
 
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Quote:
quote: You should search out past TR's by ShadowChaser, and BillyGoat for this area, if you haven't already done so...
Yes, I've read those trip reports over the years. I think it was TMC's trip report about 5 years ago that started my fascination with the area. I've done a few trips in the area, but mainly hiked the typical 'Illal Meadows' trail but also around Jim Kelly peak. So much more to see up there, though.



Quote:
quote:what distance and elevation gain are we talking about from TH to the Alpine lakes?
Are you allowed to camp there?
I'm not sure what the stats are. Somewhere around 1,500 feet elevation gain and maybe 4 km to the lakes. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to camp there.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 12:15 PM
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Thanks for the update....I do find the swamp area a bit tricky to cross.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2009, 02:41 PM
 
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Quote:
quote:I do find the swamp area a bit tricky to cross.
Yes, I almost stepped right into a creek on a couple of occasions as they are completely hidden by the tall grass.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 09-30-2016, 08:49 PM
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Has anything changed on this route over the past 7 years?

nili illegitum carborundum
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