Rambling in the Sproatt Area - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Default Rambling in the Sproatt Area

This was intended to be a summer visit to the old TV station above Whistler, from the Callaghan Valley. It was also a chance to have a look at the new trails in the area as reported by Mitch Sulkers.
https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=58029
https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=63332

This was also a follow up to the visit to the towers in the winter, and an unsuccessful trip last fall.
https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=60206
https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=58222

We drove past the Canadian Snowmobile Adventures base in the Callaghan Valley, and turned up the Northair Mine road. This road has a pretty rough surface and some obstacles that will challenge sedans. Just past the old mine site, and since last fall, someone has positioned some boulders to prevent larger vehicles from going any further. If you're going there, you may want to first check the width of your vehicle against the Grand Vitara's specs. Beyond that problem the road is narrowed by encroaching brush that will scrape your vehicle, and various protruding rocks etc. that will test your traction and clearance. It continues to the top of the clearcut, and then climbs up through the old forest to the snowmobile cabin. Though the last section looks like an ATV road now, I'm sure Jeeps could reach the cabin.



On the Oct. /2013 trip here with the Escape Hybrid, I was stopped near the top of the clearcut by a combination of snow, summer tires and a steep hill. I don't know how far the Vitara would have made it as we chose to park a little short of where the Escape reached. There is an obvious large flat place to park, and it's the last before the top of the clearcut. Up in the woods there are a few places with room to park. Probably the Vitara and Escape could have reached the cabin without damage, if we'd tried.

First we visited the cabin, then walked back down the road for a few minutes to where many trails branch off it. These various trails range from ATV tracks to little more than flagged routes. Not knowing which was the correct one, our guess was one that started out as rutted mud and then became a route flagged with yellow ribbons. We saw a more elaborate one nearby, but it looked like an ATV road. More on this later.


ATV/Trials Bike ruts at start of yellow flagged route


Canadian Snowmobile Adventures cabin

This is very convoluted terrain. The marked route twisted around and eventually intersected a much more established trail. This we followed to the ridge overlooking Gin and Tonic Lake. We followed this trail, marked with pink/red ribbons, almost to the top of a peak that we thought was Sproatt. We should have been paying more attention to the maps, because it turned out to be Tonic Peak. From it we could see Sproatt and the TV station very far away, with a considerable drop in between. The heat of the day was starting to sap our determination. So we went down to the large lake near the low point, where the hike ground to a halt. This is pretty much where I reached on the 2013 ski trip.




I put this in because as you are hiking east, you come to a point where there are three visible trails ahead. Take the northernmost one off the picture to the left, with red/pink flagging. Don't take either of the ones in the photo.




Sproatt ahead. Sproatt's summit is in line with Weart. The TV station is on the end of the ridge to the east of Sproatt. The lake is where we turned around.



On the way we'd seen a tent beside a pond, and we met a couple exploring the area. One of them had a golf club sticking out of his pack. Turns out he likes to drive a few balls off summits. We didn't ask if he retrieves them. On the way home we heard an ad on Mountain FM about a contest for which the prize was to be helicoptered to the top of Mt. Currie to drive a few golf balls. Nothing like a worthy reason to use a helicopter.

There has also been discussion about the sport of trials biking. Trials bikes are basic motorcycles designed to slowly navigate difficult terrain and for stunting. It looks like the pink flagged route is mostly used by them, but they don't stay on the route. The area around the lake where we turned around had track marks all over the place. Trials bikers say they leave no evidence of their passing, but perhaps that's with the exception of where there is evidence.



After plenty of rare alpine napping, we headed back. We did not attempt to find the yellow flagged route and instead stayed on the main, pink/red flagged trail. Near the cabin this abruptly turned into a very top-quality trail under construction. There were various pieces of machinery and many "Trail Closed" signs. This new trail follows the route of the well-traveled pink/red flagged trail.



What would be the purpose of the yellow flagged route then? It includes cut trees and bush, and there are sections where a narrow footbed has been grubbed out. I'd guess it's an alternate route for the trials bikers while the deluxe new trail is built.

Until the trails are done, and despite it looking like this is a fairly flat area, you'll find it's an energy-intensive area to hike.

When the new trail is built, what will be done about the road access? It seems someone is trying to limit use of the road, and few hikers will be willing to walk up from the old minesite. Does the pink-flagged route continue past Tonic? We were pretty sure it must continue over to the east side of Sproatt, but we couldn't find evidence of it. It also makes one wonder why there's no money to fix the disgraceful wrecks of trails on the North Shore Mountains when there are resources available to do such a fancy job in a place far less used.

Outside of the social issues, and despite the area not having access to dramatic peaks, the completion of a trail network will provide fine alpine rambling.

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2014, 02:15 AM
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Tons of info in there, thanks. I once was chatting with some ATV'rs dropping into Stein, and they said they were helping with "fungal dispersion". I was astounded.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2014, 08:15 AM
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quote:Originally posted by sgRant


I believe the image above is an extension of the Sproatt Flank trail. Work is scheduled to complete in 2015. The route will go through what is termed the "Sproatt alpine". The trail section in the photo will continue over the alpine area to connect with a new trail segment coming up the east side of Sproatt. The latter section of the flank trail is accessible from either Rainbow Lake trail or Function Junction. It is my understanding the trail will be multi-use. I don't know what that includes. Maybe it's just mountain bikes and hikers. Maybe it includes dirt bikes and trials bikes. The tread looks a bit narrow for ATVs so maybe it doesn't include them. Oh, and what about horses? That could help the fungal dispersion.

Edit: trails or trials bikes?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2014, 09:25 PM
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After hiking up partway up a snow trail in winter, certainly would like to visit this mountain again... but there are so many others..

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:14 PM
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Thanks for the report and the links. I have taken a mountain bike on Up Up 'N Away, but have yet to explore the Sproatt alpine.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2014, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
quote:This is very convoluted terrain. The marked route twisted around and eventually intersected a much more established trail. This we followed to the ridge overlooking Gin and Tonic Lake.
Steve, the yellow flagged route was marked last summer to provide an alternative for the many mountain-bikers using the meadows without a single established route. The intent was to move the mountain-bikers onto a single trail and away from some of the erosion created by the trails bike trails.

The yellow flagged route does the meanders because it is intended to be rideable on a Mountain Bike. This would be part of the route for the multi-use trail the RMOW will be building in the alpine of Sproatt over the next two years.

Trials bike use does leave tracks behind; where we have been building Skywalk, Whistler's first new alpine hiking trail (not in Whistler/Blackcomb's CRA) in 30 years on Rainbow, we've completed nearly 15km of route. However, in the past week some trials bikes have used sensitive portions of the trail breaking up rock structures that were intended to control erosion from hiking traffic. The intention in the RMOW is to create multi-use trails for human-powered use. Canadian Snowmobile is also interested in the possibility of some horse trails.

In the opinion of the trails advisory committee for RMOW, these uses were consistent with the trails planned for the area. The trails are not currently being designed for mechanized use.

The boulders you mentioned were placed by Canadian Snowmobile to manage traffic in their tenure. There were a number of close calls between large trucks shuttling mountain bikes and their clients on quads on the old mining road section above the North Air mining site.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-01-2014, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by msulkers

Quote:
quote:This is very convoluted terrain. The marked route twisted around and eventually intersected a much more established trail. This we followed to the ridge overlooking Gin and Tonic Lake.
Steve, the yellow flagged route was marked last summer to provide an alternative for the many mountain-bikers using the meadows without a single established route. The intent was to move the mountain-bikers onto a single trail and away from some of the erosion created by the trails bike trails.

The yellow flagged route does the meanders because it is intended to be rideable on a Mountain Bike. This would be part of the route for the multi-use trail the RMOW will be building in the alpine of Sproatt over the next two years.

Trials bike use does leave tracks behind; where we have been building Skywalk, Whistler's first new alpine hiking trail (not in Whistler/Blackcomb's CRA) in 30 years on Rainbow, we've completed nearly 15km of route. However, in the past week some trials bikes have used sensitive portions of the trail breaking up rock structures that were intended to control erosion from hiking traffic. The intention in the RMOW is to create multi-use trails for human-powered use. Canadian Snowmobile is also interested in the possibility of some horse trails.

In the opinion of the trails advisory committee for RMOW, these uses were consistent with the trails planned for the area. The trails are not currently being designed for mechanized use.

The boulders you mentioned were placed by Canadian Snowmobile to manage traffic in their tenure. There were a number of close calls between large trucks shuttling mountain bikes and their clients on quads on the old mining road section above the North Air mining site.
Thanks for the updates. We could see that even with our smaller vehicle, meeting a large group of ATV drivers above the Northair Mine would have been extremely inconvenient for everyone. There's almost nowhere to pull aside, and backing up either way would be quite difficult.

Horses are extremely damaging on trails, vastly worse than mountain bikes or trials bikes.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-02-2014, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
quote:Horses are extremely damaging on trails, vastly worse than mountain bikes or trials bikes.
Canadian is aware of this, and would likely construct separate trails for the horses; however, much of Sproatt's alpine is shale, which actually responds quite well to horse traffic.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-02-2014, 10:57 AM
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Nice exploration. I bailed on a hike to that area on Sun. (was going to go with wilderness seeker) due to blasted hives again. Great to see a report and click on your pics. Love that one with the lake.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-11-2015, 12:21 PM
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Are there any maps around showing trails in this area?
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-12-2015, 03:35 AM
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The new Sproatt Alpine trail gives way to an older trail and then a reasonably well flagged trail that follows the ridge system until you have clear sight of the Sproatt summit. From there it's pretty straight forward to reach the summit.

As for road access there is a road that branches from Callaghan FSR at about 4km. Follow that to approx 7.5 km just before the mine site and turn right. From there it gets steep and loose requiring 4wd to the trailhead which is marked with a sign advising against motorized travel beyond that. You follow the rough road on foot from there for something less than half an hour to a clearing prior to reaching the cabin. There is a junction there where you want to keep hard right to find the new trail

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post #12 of (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 12:26 PM
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A friend and I enjoyed the Sproatt Alpine area on Sunday, when the trail builders were taking a day off. It is truly a great area, and the trail building is much appreciated. Although we got most of the way up the road in a truck, the only thing I could ask for would be a ride to the trailhead (near the snowmobile cabin), or improvements to the road. My age does not allow large uphill grunts!

I have posted some photos at: https://picasaweb.google.com/1179698...attAlpineTrail
and am happy to send a Google Earth track and waypoints to people interested (the upload below does not allow .kmz files).
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ianc View Post
A friend and I enjoyed the Sproatt Alpine area on Sunday, when the trail builders were taking a day off.
and am happy to send a Google Earth track and waypoints to people interested (the upload below does not allow .kmz files).

Very nice trail as I can see from your pictures, and a photo set which clearly shows the attraction of this trail. Excellent work by the builders.

Yes, dirt bikes are bad news for the trails especially new ones and when wet. These guys should common sense and stay off a trail like this, with consideration for others.

I am very interested in getting a copy of your track and directions. this is one I would like to do later on in the Fall.

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post #14 of (permalink) Old 09-17-2015, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ChuckLW View Post

As for road access there is a road that branches from Callaghan FSR at about 4km. Follow that to approx 7.5 km just before the mine site and turn right. From there it gets steep and loose requiring 4wd to the trailhead which is marked with a sign advising against motorized travel beyond that. You follow the rough road on foot from there for something less than half an hour to a clearing prior to reaching the cabin. There is a junction there where you want to keep hard right to find the new trail
we did a great hike up that route in mid august, posted a TR on it. Your access description is spot on. Destined to be a go-to acess route to this amazing area

Here's a google earth and topo map image of the tote road, and most recent trail build.



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