There’s no better time to visit the south Fraser Valley than right now. Corn fields surround roadside stands stocked with freshly picked cobs. Just as prized are picnicking and angling sites sprinkled along the Chilliwack River Valley, as well as shaded trails on the slopes above the river’s headwaters in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. While river access comes easily at numerous roadside pullouts, you’ll need to expend more energy to reap the benefits offered by hiking routes such as the popular Lindeman–Greendrop Lakes Trail. One of the rewards will be an enhanced appetite for those juicy niblets; another prize will be the entrancing sight of sunlight sparkling on the surface of the two lakes towered over by craggy North Cascades peaks.
Beside the trail’s outset, lively Post Creek froths its way down the mountainside from high above, carrying a gentle breeze that helps keep biting insects at bay. Columns of old-growth Douglas fir line the way. In less than an hour, you’ll find yourself beside Lindeman, possibly the most beautiful subalpine lake on offer in the Lower Mainland. Clear green at the shoreline, its chilly waters deepen from a lighter blue to indigo when viewed from the trail. If you plan to journey on to Greendrop, save a swim here for the return journey.
Picking your way around Lindeman’s north side requires some tricky boulder hopping. Not only will shoes with good ankle support spare you the misfortune of twisting or wedging a foot in the scree, they’ll also afford you the benefit of improving your balancing skills. Thankfully, staircases and boardwalks assist hikers around the steepest section of the trail by this lake. From there, the well-marked trail to Greendrop passes knee-high wild gooseberry bushes and delicate mountain orchids as it wends through a narrow forested valley interspersed with open sections of scree. With the exception of the occasional whirring hummingbird, the air is thick with a rich stillness rarely experienced in everyday life.
As you near Greendrop Lake, a sign posted at a fork in the trail offers two approaches, either across a wooden bridge on a section marked “Trans Canada Trail” or beside a small stream that occasionally fans out across the forest floor. Regardless of which route you choose, orange metal markers affixed to tree trunks helpfully guide the way. While Lindeman Lake has a lock on looks, Greendrop’s special feature is the spectacular size of the western red cedar grove that surmounts its waterfront. Although a trail marker beside Greendrop’s wilderness campsite indicates that the Centennial Trail leads east from there into the Skagit Valley, attempts to find the faded route will prove futile for all but the hardiest of bushwhackers.
Intrigued by the presence of the Trans Canada Trail sign in an area that isn’t part of the trail’s B.C. route, the Georgia Straight called Léon Lebrun, vice president of Trails B.C. Lebrun said he had no idea who had marked it as such. “We do have some very interesting sections of trail along the Chilliwack River Valley, particularly from several kilometres before the Thurston Meadows campsite to Chilliwack Lake—a wonderful hike, really.” Lebrun also noted that the three-kilometre Tolmie Trail between Little Tamahi and Tamahi was “an absolutely beautiful section of the Trans Canada Trail. It’s a good hike, but ATVs have ruined it for cyclists.”
On the subject of all-terrain vehicles—commonly called quads—and the degradation that motorized users have caused on other sections of the Trans Canada Trail such as the Kettle Valley Trail, Lebrun said it was up to the provincial government to address the problem.
“B.C. is the only jurisdiction in North America that doesn’t license and register such vehicles. The ministry of culture, tourism and the arts [under whose aegis the trail falls] doesn’t see this as any kind of priority,” said the retired teacher and inveterate hiker. “In the meantime, ATVs are wrecking everything in the backcountry. A lot of us are starting to despair. Personally, I think this could be the demise of the Trans Canada Trail on a grand scale, as by far the biggest users of the trail are cyclists, who are being forced onto the roads.”
Lebrun pointed to Quebec and Prince Edward Island as having successfully dealt with the motorized blight. “Only in Quebec have they separated the two groups. I cycled 130 kilometres in one day alone during a 1,200-kilometre cross-province ride. As someone about to turn 70, that gives you an idea of how good it [the route] was, including lots of inns and pubs along the way. People have to be aware of the consequences,” he said ominously, “and the consequence can be quite severe.”
Chew on that as you dig into some fresh corn.
Access: Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park lies 150 kilometres southeast of Vancouver. Travel east along Highway 1 to the Chilliwack Lake–Cultus Lake exit (number 104), then head southeast on No. 3 Road through the community of Yarrow. Go east along Vedder Mountain Road. Just over the Vedder Bridge, turn south (right) onto Chilliwack Lake Road at a well-marked intersection. Drive 42 kilometres to the park. It’s an easy two-hour drive from Vancouver. Lindeman Lake is 3.4 kilometres return; Greendrop Lake is 10.4 kilometres return. Details are at www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/chilliwack_lk/. For information on the Trans Canada Trail, see www.trailsbc.ca/.