Hiked Elk Mountain for the first time on Sunday, June 5th and again on July 3rd. One June 5th, we had hot weather and a cloudless blue sky. On July 3rd, lots of fog that came in and out to reveal only some of the mountain views...
The first section of the trail is nicely forested with Hemlock and lots of ferns and other greenery. On a hot day, this section of the trail is surprisingly cool. For the first 45 minutes or so, the trail is a pretty gradual climb to the first viewpoint (facing North). After that, there are a series of increasingly steep switchbacks amongst the trees, followed by a short set of steep stairs.
Past the stairs, the trail leaves the forest canopy and on hot days you'll feel the sun beating down on you. In July, this section of trail is a steep grassy meadow dotted with a multitude of colourful wild flowers (including wild strawberries). The trail itself is steep here, with a few embedded stair treads to make things easier.
The view from the rocky bluff is lovely, with a good deal of the Chilliwack and Fraser valleys seeming just an arms length away. To the North, you can see Harrison Bay and a good stretch of the Fraser River. To the West, you can see as far as Mud Bay and Point Roberts. To the Southwest, Cultus Lake, and below on your left Chilliwack River.
Above the rocky bluff viewpoint, the trail follows the ridgeline, once in awhile skirting the edge of the forest but mostly following the exposed, flower spotted ridge on the south side. As you progress along the ridge, views of the mountains to the South and South east emerge, including: Liumchen, Mount Baker and Shuksan, McGuire, TomyHoi, Larrabee, and the Border peaks to name a few. Below, the south face of the mountain descends steeply to the Chilliwack River valley.
We never did figure out exactly where the summit of Elk Mountain was, but we kept hiking along the ridge to the summit of what we guessed was another peak, this one marked by only a large rock cairn. Here, we had lunch and took lots of photos. From this vantage point, other mountains emerge including the Slesse. We considered continuing on to Mount Thurston but, due to the heat, we instead headed back down the same route we ascended.
The Elk Mountain trail is a perfect day hike for a weekend, almost certain to guarantee a good workout and some beautiful scenery along the way.