Catch the colours!
Hiking in the fall up Elk Mountain in Chilliwack, BC
My name is Maria Elsom and I grew up in a family who loved everything outdoors! As a little girl, I have so many wonderful memories camping and hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. I grew up in the lower mainland of British Columbia in the city of Surrey, (which has easy access to lots of outdoor activities like the mountains and ocean). My parents did a great job teaching us to love the outdoors and all it has to offer and I’m forever thankful for the lasting impact it has had on me. Seven years ago, my husband Isaac and I got married and he has also been an inspiration to me with his adventurous spirit. He has a passion and heart for the outdoors just as much as I do. We welcomed our first daughter into the world two years ago (2021), and we have loved exploring with her and embracing the beautiful mess of adventuring with a little one. I have loved exposing her to the world through the lens of the great outdoors and all the activities it has to offer! One of my favorite things is to hike in the fall when all the beautiful alpine meadows come alive with their vibrant colours!
Looking for a beautiful fall colours hike you can do with your little one?! Elk mountain is calling your name!
Distance: 8.2km round trip
Duration: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 794 m
Located only 25 minutes from Chilliwack, this is a hike that allows you to drive most of the way up, doing a lot of the elevation gain for you! It is a winding road and the last kilometre is gravel. I have done it in a car, so no need for high clearance or 4×4. There you will find the parking lotand it is free to use.
Elk Mountain Trail:
You will find the trailhead located at the right side of the parking lot by the big sign. As you start your hike, you will be greeted with a slight incline and a couple of bridges over little creeks. The trail is in the forest for a majority of the hike. At about 2⁄3 mark, you will pass a logging road and continue your way up. The first half is an easier steady incline, the second half is more steep making your way along the ridgeline up to the summit of Elk. The ridgeline has a more challenging terrain with its narrow path along a couple of sections. After that, you will come to your first viewpoint of the Fraser Valley, where you can enjoy a snack and water break. You will then continue a couple hundred meters back into the forest and opens up to some stairs to the summit of Elk. At the top there are beautiful views of the surrounding peaks both in British Columbia and along the border of Washington State, as well as views of the Chilliwack river. In terms of shelter or protection from the sun, there’s a tree line you could go into, but for the most part, at the top, there’s not much. You can choose to complete your hike here or continue your way along the ridge to Mount Thurston that links to more trails.
In the fall, the alpine meadows turn beautiful red, orange and yellows colours that on a blue bird day, are a vibrant contrast to eachother! There are blueberry bushes at the top so keep your eyes out for black bears in the area, and always have your bear spray on you! If you’re lucky, you might even catch some paragliders taking off at the top!
I have done this hike many times, the latest was last fall when my daughter turned 1 year old! She was carried the whole hike in our Thule sapling elite backpack. Once at the top, she was excited to get out, have a fresh diaper, have some food, crawl around and get dirty. As a mama, you just gotta let loose and let your little ones get messy and dirty!
This is definitely a kid-carrier friendly hike as the trail is well maintained with very little roots and rocks. Most of the path is wide with the ending ridgeline a bit more narrow. As for toddlers, the first half they could definitely do some of the hiking on their own. There are tons of tree coverage for those rainy or hot days. Towards the second half of the trail, it gets more technical with the steepness and narrow paths that can be slippery depending on previous weather.
The trail is open year round and can be done hiking, snowshoeing, or trail running. Dogs are welcome but must be on leash. Bring hiking poles and spikes! It’s become a popular hike especially on weekends, so get there early for a parking spot.
Snacks, snacks, snacks and water!
Happy trails! 🥾
Follow me on Instagram (@mariadelsom) for more reviews, tips and advice for hiking with toddlers!