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Hike in Whistler & Garibaldi Provincial ParkHike in Squamish & Garibaldi Provincial ParkHike in VancouverHike in Tofino & ClayoquotHike in Victoria & Vancouver IslandHike the West Coast Trail WCT

The hike from Helm Creek to Black Tusk is very beautiful.  If you do it in one day from the Cheakamus trailhead to the Black Tusk summit you will likely take From the Helm Creek Campground and well worn and well signed trail ascends into the trees and almost directly aims for Black Tusk.  Though still about 6k away, it dominates the view from all areas of Helm Creek.  In July the snowline will be not too far above Helm Creek, though due to the gradual rise in elevation and weeks of warm temperatures, the snow is hard and easy to walk on without the help of snowshoes.

Black Tusk from the Helm Creek Trail

Looking Back on Helm Creek from the Black Tusk Summit Trail

From Helm Creek to Black Tusk is about 5.5k and takes about two hours and there are a couple options.  One of course is to keep to the marked trail as it runs past Black Tusk far to your right and get on to the Black Tusk trail up the conventional, Rubble Creek trailhead way.  The better option from Helm Creek is to veer off the trail about 400 metres before reaching Helm Lake, cross the shallow, though wide Helm Creek and follow the obvious route to Black Tusk.  This route is faster and absolutely amazing.

The terrain is breathtaking from the moment you leave the established trail until you reach the summit of Black Tusk.  Though it looks daunting from the start, near Helm Lake, it is only moderately challenging.  No excessive climbs, no ropes needed.  The distance from the Helm Creek crossing to the summit is about 2.6k as you follow a relatively straight line.  Climbing quickly and reaching the shockingly black rock that has crumbled from the Tusk.  To your right you will eventually see the broad sloping side of Black Tusk give way to a massive valley of snow.  To your left the valley descends away from you into a breathtaking valley of dead trees, green grassy meadows and the distant river flowing through the mountains.

The Ridge to the Base of Black Tusk

The Summit Route to Black Tusk

This route joins with the normal Black Tusk trail route near the base of Black Tusk.  From this point you walk the black bridge-like ridge of rock to touch Black Tusk itself.  Then you walk the trail that runs at the top of the scree around the left side to reach the perilous looking chute up to the summit.  This resting area has The Final Chute to the Summit of Black Tuskincredible views of the valley below and the amazingly blue Garibaldi Lake contrasting with the black rock all around and the pure white snow more distant.

This final chute turns back quite a few people at this point as it looks extremely dangerous.  Chunks of rock tumble down it from people above.  Handholds routinely crumble in your hands.  And looking down reveals the distinctly real possibility of tumbling down a brutal scree slope for several hundred metres.  There have been some injuries here requiring emergency airlifts out, however they are remarkably few.

If you have the courage to make this final ascent, you quickly realize that it is much easier than you thought.  There are plenty of good hand and footholds along the way and the gentle slope ensures a comforting feeling of safety.  This chute is just a dozen metres until it slopes to a crawling scramble and finally walking on top of the world with absolutely phenomenal views all around.

Black Tusk Summit View - Vancouver Hiking Guide August

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Black Mountain Hike in Vancouver

Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs


Mount Baker from Eagle BluffsBlack Mountain and Eagle Bluffs can be reached from two different trailheads.  The trailhead from Cypress Resort and the original trail off Marine Drive halfway between Horseshoe Bay and Lighthouse Park.  The trailhead south of Horseshoe Bay is a challenging 19 kilometre roundtrip hike but fantastically scenic.  This route follows the Trans Canada Trail for about 20 minutes before branching off toward, then past Whyte Lake.

The Cypress Mountain Resort is the newer, shorter and easier way to access Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs.  Located just a short and very nice, 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, the Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs trail begins next to the Cypress Mountain Resort chairlifts.  The well marked trail branches away from the chairlift to the left and quickly ascends into the deep and beautiful forest.  Follow the clear signs to Eagle Bluffs.  The route can be done in a circle route, so try to take the other route on the way back for variety.  Black Mountain is a short side trail off this circle Howe Sound from Black Mountain in Vancouverroute.  Allow yourself 3-4 hours for the 7.7k return trip to both Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs.  The elevation gain is 350m in 4k.  Expect to need snowshoes December to May.  During these months use caution as snow may obscure the trail markers and combined with bad weather can very easily make you lose the trail.

The Cypress Mountain trailhead and parking for Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs is also the gateway to the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail.  This amazing trail in Cypress Provincial Park extends north from the Cypress Resort parking and ascends deep into the North Shore Mountains.  Mount Strachan, St Mark's Summit, Unnecessary Mountain and The Lions are all accessible from this trailhead.  Continuing north beyond The Lions, the Howe Sound Crest Trail leads to Mount Harvey, Mount Hanover, Brunswick Mountain and finally Deeks Peak. Hollyburn Mountain is another wonderful hiking trail near the Cypress Mountain, Black Mountain trailhead.  Located at the Cypress Mountain cross country skiing area the trailhead to Hollyburn Mountain is marked with a large mapboard.  Hollyburn is an easy, 7 kilometre roundtrip hike to fantastic views of Vancouver.

Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs Trail Map

Rainbow Lake Aerial Views

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Hike in Whistler & Garibaldi Provincial ParkHike in Squamish & Garibaldi Provincial ParkHike in VancouverHike in Tofino & ClayoquotHike in Victoria & Vancouver IslandHike the West Coast Trail WCT

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