South Coast State of the Trails Report

October 30, 2020

Whew - it’s been a whirlwind of a weather month. An early cold snap meant snow at unseasonably low elevations while snow levels in the alpine were surprisingly low. This made for some spectacular alpine snow running when the storms cleared. Runners were getting after it on the North Shore, Elfin Lakes, and in Garibaldi Park! There were also several high profile disappearances of hikers and mushroom pickers at a time when snow makes travel difficult and cold temperatures make a night out extremely dangerous. Conditions changed exceptionally quickly and without a doubt, many people were caught unprepared.

Now however, we’re back into a more seasonal weather pattern with steady rain in the forecast and moderate temps. This will likely keep us out of the alpine for the forecast period. It’s a good time to stay in the valley on familiar trails or hit the gym. If the weather does improve and you’re looking to get up high, it’s necessary to carry significantly more clothing and equipment in case of an emergency. Depending on precipitation amounts, it may also be necessary to use skis or snowshoes for alpine travel and it’s almost certainly the time to be carrying avalanche equipment above tree-line. Even below tree-line there is snow and ice accumulation on trails. Medium sized avalanches have been observed in the high alpine with recent snow and daytime warming.

Expect trails throughout the Fraser Valley and S2S Corridor to be wet and sloppy as the rain continues. Above 800m of elevation you may encounter snow and ice that requires micro-spikes at a minimum. Some North Shore trails have been closed for the winter months (Hanes Valley - check the DNV website for latest closures) and ongoing search and rescue operations may result in trail closures around Manning Park and Pemberton.

For updates on provincial park openings check BC Parks.

For current trail closures check out Outdoor Vancouver.

Valley running might be wet and muddy but it's a safe option during the fall rainy season!

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