SUMMARY: This is the trail that goes to the first lake, also known (unofficially) as Holly Lake, and referred to as the Downton Alpine Lake trail in the "Canyon to Alpine" hiking book.
Just beyond the landing, look for flagging and a tree stump with a sign saying "TRAIL". This stump may have an old enamel teapot perched on top. Follow the trail through the re-growing cutblock into the forest where it climbs fairly steeply to reach open meadows on the south face of a ridge. At the end of the meadows, there is a junction. The trail turns left towards the lake (continuing straight leads to the open terrain on the way to Statimcets Peak, referred to as Peak 8700 in the Scrambles book), crossing a small creek and reaching it within 10 minutes.
There are a few flat spots for camping here but there are no facilities so practice Leave No Trace camping.
The trail continues beyond the lake towards a second lake (known as Lorna Lake). The trail peters out in wet meadows, and is marked with pink/orange flagging for a short distance before that runs out too just after another creek is crossed. Continue straight up the creek to reach the open meadows (if heading for Linus, or an alternative approach to Statimcets). To reach the lake, just pick the easiest way through the trees to reach the small outlet creek. The scramble up to Soprano Peak begins here.create
Downton Creek Trail
Sep 22, 2012
Yet another place that's been on our ever-lengthening "to visit" list. A remarkably short and easy hike in to a wonderful wilderness destination. Despite its reputation for being windy, we had the calmest, quietest camping experience we've ever had. Not a breath of wind, the lakes and tarns were like mirrors. And so, so quiet (apart from whistling marmots and squeaky pikas). It was bliss. We saw only 5 people and 3 dogs on the trail all weekend, all of whom were day visitors.
The flowers were almost all gone so the meadows were golden brown. I suspect they would have been a riot of colour a month earlier. No sign of any bears though this is grizzly territory.
Good camping spots near the lakes are actually few and far between. The meadows near the lakes are wet and boggy and don't make good camp sites. More camping options can be found higher up at the lake below Linus and the Faulty Tower, or at the tarn mentioned in the Scrambles book. I imagine that bugs are fierce here in the summer.
Please tread lightly here - this area is fragile. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw dirt-bike tracks through the meadows. (And of course insert usual grumble about camp fires.)
The section of the Downton Creek FSR near km 5 which was washing out has been fully repaired. Yay! This road is easy 2wd low-clearance. Branch 2 is also 2wd, and has a number of water bars which a skillful driver *might* be able to negotiate in a low clearance vehicle, but be prepared to scrape various parts of the underside and/or bumpers. They pose no issues for any higher clearance vehicle (such as our '99 CR-V). It took us nearly 5 hours to reach the trailhead thanks to a couple of accidents in Vancouver (at 7.30 in the morning??) and some slow Alberta drivers on the twisty Duffey Lake road.