Mt. Beautiful (aka Eagle Peak) via Swan Falls Loop

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trip Report: Ryan and I hiked to Mt. Beautiful (aka. Eagle Peak). We ascended via Swan Falls trail and descended via Lindsay Lake trail.


The Eagle Ridge trail system consists of the Lindsay Lake Loop, Swan Falls Loop, and Dilly Dally Loop; it is named after its builder, Halvor Lunden. Lunden is a trail-building pioneer and he has contributed to our community by building and maintaining various hiking and biking trails throughout the coast. Lunden had the original idea of building a trail around the Indian Arm; he didn’t make it too far past Eagle Ridge. Lunden passed the idea on to Don McPherson who took over and built the Indian Arm trail. – That’s the side I’ve heard/read anyway. I guess the story depends on who you ask. A few years ago, I read there is an archived journal of Lunden’s trip reports in a museum in Port Moody. I’ll have to check it out on a rainy weekend.

Anyways, back to the trip report!

Ryan and I ventured up to Mt. Beautiful (aka Eagle Peak) for the first time. I’ve poked around the Buntzen Lake trails numerous times before, but I haven’t ascended the Swan Falls trail.

Assuming a very long day, we parked outside the Buntzen Lake gates, just in case we didn’t make it back before the gates locked (current hours as of April 29th are 8am-8pm). We parked in a lot across the Fire Hall on Sunnyside Road.

We walked in, continued on to Powerhouse road and hiked to the north end of Buntzen Lake. We made a short detour to the North Beach.

From North Beach, we walked back on to the road. Just before reaching the trailhead, there was a view of a hydro electric generating station. This was the Lower Mainland’s first, built in 1903. It involved tunneling 3.6km under Eagle Mountain from Coquitlam Lake to Buntzen Lake. For more details on the history of the area, check out BC Hydro’s page.

We continued on the road and kept an eye out for the Swan Falls trailhead, to the right, under the power line. The trail steepened very quickly from this point on.

In some sections, there were ropes to assist with the ascent (or descent); these were placed here by the Coquitlam Search and Rescue (SAR) team. Given the dry weather conditions, I was able to skip the first set of ropes.

Our next stop was the Swan Falls viewpoint; a bluff which overlooked Buntzen Lake.

We continued to gain elevation and entered two signed sections marked as ‘Lower Gully’ and ‘Upper Gully’. The trail traversed the two gullies and continued to switchback the upper basin.

By now, we had gained most of the elevation. There was one section where the trail was covered by deadfall and we had to climb over a large trunk. As the trail began to flatten out, we found our first trace of snow.

Next, we entered a meadow. Navigation through the meadow was relatively easy; there was consistent snow and we were able to follow someone’s tracks. If it weren’t for the tracks, it would be somewhat difficult to navigate without a visible footbed or more frequent flagging. We did not need microspikes throughout the hike, snow was hardpacked.

We hiked through the meadows and reached the Swan Falls junction which put us on to the Eagle Ridge trail. Options were to turn left for the unbroken trail to Dilly Dally peak or right for Mt. Beautiful (aka Eagle Peak); we turned right.

We came across more rope to help with the last steep section before the Mt. Beautiful summit.

Along the ridge, we gained views of Dilly Dally behind us and Coquitlam Lake beside us. Coquitlam Lake is considered watershed territory.  Because of its inaccessibility, I have always found the lake and its surrounding area fascinating. Views of the lake are uncommon and found on a few trails in Coquitlam and Anmore; Mt. Beautiful provides the least obstructed vantage.

We finally reached the summit and stayed a short while to enjoy the views. The summit provides unique views of the the Fraser Valley, Fraser River, the Indian Arm, Mt. Seymour, and Deep Cove.

The views overlooking the city and beyond were not as satisfying as I imagined they would be. I was much more intrigued by the views of Coquitlam Lake and the mountains beyond. To the north we were able to make out the impressive Mount Bonnycastle and Meslillooet.

We continued along the ridge and dropped in and out of several passes with interesting names including: Spirit Pass, Hemlock Pass, T.T. Top, and Dead Tree Pass. Snow was still consistent through this section of the trail.

We continued along and dropped down to Lindsay Lake. We arrived at a junction; both options end at the same spot, El Paso junction. We took the left junction through the lake district for a quicker route back, instead of the right, which would have taken us to the viewpoint trail.

A short ways past Lindsay Lake, in the lakes district, we spotted 2 golden eagles.

We continued our descent and reached the Polytrichum lookout. By now, we had run out of day light and turned on our headlamps. We continued down the trail and took the lower Academy junction, which brought us out to the Buntzen overflow parking lot. We followed the road out and back to the truck.

On the trail, the details are everything; they remind you, just when you need to be reminded the most, why you’re there in the first place. At the end of the day, this hike was more about the journey than the destination. The views from the summit were ok, in my opinion. I enjoyed the Swan Falls trail at the beginning, as it followed the creek and switchbacked up the mountain. I loved the Eagle Ridge trail, as it continued in and out of the passes.

Diabetes Management:

As usual, I reduced my basal rate to 50% when we started our walk on Powerhouse Road. I checked my blood sugars every 30-40 minutes during the steep sections and less frequently when the trail leveled out. I did not experience any blood sugar spikes or crashes.

I ate less frequently than I normally do and I felt it in my energy levels.

I steered clear of eating Hammer gels on this trip. They taste great, but they cause me to become very dehydrated. Instead, I tried a Gu gel (Ryan’s favourite brand) and loved it! The raspberry flavour was great, it did not spike my blood sugars, and it did not leave me feeling dehydrated. We actually picked up more Gu gels for future trips.

Stats for the Day:

Total Distance: 32.6km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1509m

Thanks for reading!

 

– Ash

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