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Rosseau Ridge (Mt Cokley) Trail Guide by Lonny Barr
- Distance: From parking lot to summit is about 2.5km, with 600m of elevation gain
- Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult, somewhat steep trail. Along the ridge there are a few sections that require somewhat exposed scrambles. The ridge could be quite dangerous in winter as if you were to fall and slide toward the edge there is a gigantic cliff along the entire ridge.
- Hiking Time: About 2-3 hours one-way from parking lot to the summit of Cokley. 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 says “Mt. Arrowsmith” that leads up to the old ski hill area. This logging road leads up the mountain at a good grade. After all of the switchbacks, you will come to one last sharp left hand turn (around 7km up). This is the saddle trail entrance. Continue past here for less than a km until you see another branch on your right hand side of the road, which is the trailhead. If you get to distinct fork in the road with a gate on the right you’ve gone a bit too far.
- This trail would be best in the summer, although I have done it in winter as well. The ridge is one of the nicer routes in this area because you have spectacular views along the entire length of the ridge. If you head up in the winter make sure you have good snowshoes/crampons and an ice axe, because if you were to slip and slide towards the edge of the ridge there is a giant cliff. Also, avalanche safety must always be considered. The weather can deteriorate quickly at higher elevations. Always dress appropriately and watch the weather carefully.
- Instead of following the ridge back down there is also the option of hiking down the old ski lift trail and following the logging road back to your car.
- 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
The Rosseau Ridge trail is another great route on the Mt. Arrowsmith mastiff. Although the route is parallel and quite close to the Saddle Trail, it is a very different experience as it follows an open alpine ridge as opposed to ascending a forested hillside and meadowy basin.
The trail starts by following the old logging road branch near the parking area for a short period before heading into the trail through the forest. In the summer the trail is well worn and easy to follow, and there is also the occasional marker in the tree. This early stage of the trail is really nicely forested and very scenic. It begins to climb steeper as it approaches the base of the ridge. To gain the ridge, you must scramble up a narrow gulley and cross a section of somewhat exposed rock bluffs. Once at the top, the route is relatively easy to follow as it just follows the ridge east towards the summit of Cokley. There are also some rock cairns and flags to help navigate.
There are two main bumps along the ridge, and the first one requires a bit of exposed climbing to get down. Although ropes or technical climbing gear are not needed, people who are uncomfortable with climbing or afraid of heights will not like this section. These sections would be very difficult during the winter. See photos for views of the route along the ridge.
Once you have passed across the two bumps you should be above the saddle and in clear sight of the summit of Cokley and its distinctive communications tower. There is another scramble required to gain access to the top of Cokley. See photo of route to Cokley.
The summit of Mt. Cokley sits at 1631m and has spectacular views. This spot is my favorite view of Mt. Arrowsmith, looking across over the saddle and Jewel Lake. You can see the east coast of Vancouver Island, the Strait of Georgia and across to the Coast Mountains. Looking west across the Alberni Valley gives you great views of Mt. Klitsa and Nahmint.
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