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Andre, Lonny, Maddie
Judge's Route Trail Guide by Lonny Barr
- Distance: From parking lot to summit is about 3km, with 1000m of elevation gain
- Difficulty: Difficult, steep trail with some exposed sections and scrambles
- Hiking Time: About 2-3 hours one-way from parking lot to summit. Makes a great day hike.
- How to get there: Follow Highway 4 east of Port Alberni up the hump and turn right on the logging road that is marked “Arrowsmith Ski Area” (Loon Lake Main). After a couple kms you will come to a junction, turn left onto Cameron Main. Follow this logging road for about 10km, cross over Cameron River, then take a left up a branch that has a sign that reads “Mt. Arrowsmith” (Pass Main) that leads up to the old ski hill area. This logging road leads up the mountain at a good grade. Look for the 4th branch on your right hand side (about 3kms up), which has a good spot to pull over and park immediately afterwards on your left.
- This trail is probably best in late summer and early fall, as there is considerable snowpack until late July/early August. The route can be taken in winter, but avalanche safety must be considered. The weather can deteriorate quickly at higher elevations. Always dress appropriately and watch the weather carefully.
- This can be a busy trail in the summer, be aware of the potential for rocks/debris coming down some of the steep/exposed sections if people are above or below you.
- Pack your own water as there is limited access to creeks on this trail
- The gates leading into this area are sometimes locked in the summer if the risk of forest fires is high
- There are no fires permitted on Mt. Arrowsmith
Arguably Vancouver Island’s most well known mountain, Mt. Arrowsmith has a wide variety of trails making it very accessible. Judge’s Route leads you to the summit, providing excellent views of the Alberni Valley, the southern peaks of Strathcona, and the east coast of the island.
The trail starts by following the old logging road branch near the parking area for about 25 minutes. There has been some new logging in this area, with new logging roads branching off the old road that leads to the trailhead. Make sure to keep right at any junctions to follow the old logging road to the start of the trail. This old road is not too steep and gives you a nice warm-up before the climb. At the end of the road, the trailhead is well marked, and immediately starts heading up some steep slopes. As you follow the trail up through the forest, follow the trail and flagging. There are a few branches in the trail, on each one make sure you keep to your left.
As you gain more altitude, you will notice the change in the size and types of trees. You will also start to get some great views of the Cameron Valley below. Once you are above the tree line, there are some sections that have some exposure. Be careful as some of the rocky slopes have loose debris that may easily be knocked down the steep slopes. Soon you will follow the trail up a small valley between two large peaks, and at the top of this valley you will head right towards the summit. Soon you will arrive at the first communication tower and helipad. From here it is a short scramble up to the summit on the right, which has another couple of towers and another helipad.
The summit sits at 1819m and provides a 360-degree view of Vancouver Island, and on a clear day you can actually see both coasts. Looking west gives you a great look at the Alberni Valley, Sproat Lake and Great Central Lake. To the North, you can see various peaks of southern Strathcona, including Big Interior, The Red Pillar, and the Comox Glacier. Looking east you can see a long stretch of coast, from Courtenay/Comox down to Nanaimo, as well as the Coast Mountains on the mainland. The cairn at the summit has a registry you can sign.
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