This weeks Hike of the Week takes us to Semaphore Lakes near Pemberton, BC.
Hike Info:Rating: Intermediate Distance: 2.5 km (One Way) Gain: 450 Metres Time Needed: 2 hours return Type: Out-and-back
The Semaphore lakes area is a relatively short 2.5km hike accessible from the Hurley River Forest Service Road (FSR).
Special thanks to Jason Mills for providing the amazing images of Semaphore Lakes from our recent overnight trip. To see more check out Jason’s Instagram.
Semaphore Lakes Trail:
The Semaphore Lakes trail starts from the 22KM mark of the Hurley River FSR. The trailhead is marked by flagging tape on a small tree where the car pullout. (Driving directions at bottom of this post). Depending on your start off point the drive to Semaphore Lakes can be long. The last 22KM on the Hurley FSR being the worst of it.
The hike from the trailhead to the Semaphore Lakes area is about 2.5km and the trail gains about 350m in elevation over that distance.
I would rate this more of an intermediate hike. While it is relatively short 2.5KM one way hike, at times the trail is quite steep and you will be climbing up over lots of slippery roots, rocks and more than a few muddy spots along the way. Make sure you have proper footwear!
Once you reach the Semaphore Lakes base you’ll see an area surrounded by the “school of railroad mountains” such as Locomotive, Tender, Caboose, Handcar, Faceless, Face etc. In the Semaphore Lakes area there is a series of trails snaking around so make sure you leave enough time to spend wandering so you can find all the little lakes and tarns in the meadow. Or better yet, camp overnight!
Camping at Semaphore Lakes:
Semaphore Lakes is so off the beaten path it makes for a great camping spot. You won’t see the crowds here like you will at the more well known Provincial parks. Even on the weekends you’ll probably only see 10-15 other tents scattered around the meadows, up on small hills or along one of the many larger lakes.
There are no designated or improved campsites at Semaphore Lakes and it is delicate sub-alpine area so tread carefully. Try to find a spot that has been used as a campsite before to minimize your impact on the fragile area. Since Semaphore Lakes is not a Provincial Park there is also no outhouses, food storage facilities or cooking shelters. Semaphore Lakes is also in bear country. Ensure all food and garbage is properly stored and hung well away from your camp.
Campfires are not permitted at Semaphore Lakes. This is a sub-alpine area and trees grow very slowly and the soils are fragile so gathering firewood and having a fire destroys the fragile ecosystem.
Practice property hiking etiquette, and be sure to pack out what you pack in so others can enjoy this wonderful area just as you have.
Getting to Semaphore Lakes:
To get to the trail head from Pemberton, BC:
1. Drive through Pemberton and head up the Pemberton Valley via Pemberton Meadows road.
2. After ~20km, turn right onto the Lillooet Forest Service Road. Reset your odometer here.
3. At the junction (~8.7km from the start of the Lillooet FSR), turn right onto the Hurley FSR.
4. Continue up the switchbacks and you will eventually see a pullout and parked cars along the left side of the road located at the 22km mark. There is room in the pullout for 4-5 cars but parking is also available along the left side of the road.
5. The trailhead is marked by flagging tape on a small tree where the car pullout is.
Special Driving Note:
The Hurley River FSR is open only during the summer months and is quite rough and pot holed in spots. If you take your time it can be done in a two-wheel drive vehicle, but you’ll want to make sure you go up when it hasn’t rained recently. You wouldn’t want to attempt this road if it’s wet without a four-wheel drive truck.