When I first looked for adventures in the Nanaimo Lakes area, I was only after some easy hikes I could peruse during the summer months. After discovering there is a wealth of fantastic places to climb, hike, mountain bike and kayak in the area, I’ve jumped headfirst into finding all the best spots.
One of the best so far has to be Green Mountain. An old ski hill abandoned before I was even born, its gentle slopes and wide open terrain make it a beautiful place to be any time of the year. Since my first attempt I’ve been up 3 times since and the trips have been very worth it.
A few weeks ago during our week of beautiful warm sunny weather, some friends and I made the trip out. The snow had started to recede and from all the melting and freezing, had packed down considerably. We all had snowshoes just in case but didn’t even pull them off our packs for the hour and a half hike to the summit. The snow was more than hard enough for us to cruise right over all of the terrain and straight up the wide open ski hill.
The hike starts with a gentle climb up the old access road. We were forced to park the truck a couple minutes hike down the hill from where we usually depart because of the snow. It was hard enough to drive to where we did but without chains, I wasn’t getting any further around the last steep corner. The road is typically very good aside from the snow that can get quite low in the winter. There is one washout about half way up the mountain that definitely requires a 4×4 of some sort. You could walk from here but it would probably add another hour to the hike.
Near where we usually leave the access road and turn up onto the open meadows there is a deep stream that melts all the snow above it. From the stream to the top of the snow it was about 10 feet but that includes a drop in the dirt below the snow as well. 4×4’s might be able to get past where we normally park but they would definitely not make it past this ditch.
Slightly wet from hopping into the stream at the bottom of the ditch, we headed up the open meadows and into the trees. During the summer the meadows are covered with bright green ferns. It is an incredible sight. We popped through the trees, over the access road that has curled around and is winding it’s way up the mountain and onto one of the main ski hill runs. The lodge is around this area but with all the snow that covers during the winter the burn rubble and foundation were nowhere to be seen.
The rest of the hike to the summit went quickly thanks to the great company, hard snow and beautiful blue sky and sun above us.
With 200 meters left to go to the summit there are some steep craggy bits that need to be negotiated. Heading right you can pick your way up and over the rocks and on to the summit plateau at the top. If that isn’t your thing you can head left to the west side and up a steeper but snow-covered section. We decided the rocks looked like fun this time and ascended those with no problems. There was ice on the odd rock so care had to be taken no to slip down to the bottom on the pointy rocks.
With the only difficult section behind us, we winded our way through the last few trees at the top before hitting the actual summit and were greeted with a heavenly view off into the rest of the snow-covered mountains with the sun shining brightly in the sky. Summit beers were out and everyone was contemplating digging a snow cave at that very spot and spending the night, or the week!
I drove into that area a couple of Summers ago but did not go much past the wash out. I don’t have a 4 by.It looks like a real good place for alpine touring !!Trevor
It’s definitely good for that Trevor. We got out on the snowboards once this year up there but the snow was terrible. Still was a fun day though. Watch out for a post about the day coming up soon!
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It would be nice to be able to get up there now. The gates have been locked for months. I don’t get it, last winter they were open from fall to start of the fire season. what a shame not being able to enjoy the outdoors in nanaimo.
Totally agree with you Rob. It’s such a beautiful place and it’s so much work to get there. There is an entrance by Cowichan lake too but last I heard it was gated as well. Sounds like they are being touchy about it right now because there was an accident where someone drove off the road into the lake and died. I’m not sure if that’s the whole story but hopefully this summer we’ll be back to better access.