Hiking Mount Erskine from Juniper Road
A fairly easy hike up the back side of Mount Erskine to a panoramic view of Sansum Narrows, Booth Bay, Vancouver Island, Mount Arrowsmith, Chemainus and Nanaimo, and east across Trincomali Channel to Galiano Island and the Lower Mainland.
There are three main trails to the summit of the mountain. The first two are the most well known. Salt Spring’s version of the Grouse Grind starts at Collin’s Road. Alternately there’s a somewhat less interesting route from Toynbee Road (near Mount Maxwell). The third way is less well know and is the subject of this blog entry.
Access this route via Juniper Place. Turn right on Trustee Trail to the large cul de sac. There’s lots of room to park here. The hike to the top of Mount Erskine takes about 45 min when done at a leisurely pace.
There’s a trailhead post at the side of the road. A short way down the trail you leave private land and enter Mount Erskine Provincial Park. This is Dodds Trail.
About 10 minutes along Dodds Trail you’ll come to an unmarked intersection. Turn left and uphill here. You’re on Lassies Trail. (GPS +48° 51′ 11.12″, -123° 32′ 50.84″)
A pretty walk with some long gentle switchbacks.
About half an hour from the bottom you will come to another unmarked intersection. Both forks are the Mount Erskine Trail. The left fork goes to Toynbee Road. Take the right fork (north) toward the summit. (GPS +48° 50′ 49.81″, -123° 32′ 45.22″)
As you near the top, the forest gradually opens up. This area is extremely dry and particularly fragile throughout the summer.
Hopefully the day will look like this when you reach the Mount Erskine summit:
Next time, if you want more of a workout, you could try the Collins Road trailhead; a steep and somewhat rocky ascent. Takes about 50 minutes. Or take the Toynbee trail head up a logging road across some open areas under power lines and along a ridge trail.
Another option is to get dropped off at one trailhead and descend to another for pickup. For example, you could take the Dodds trail up and the descend past the famous fairy doors to Collins Rd.
*UPDATE Aug, 2011: another choice
If you do decide to go up Mt. Erskine via the Dodds trail but want some variety on the decent (a steeper, quicker path), here’s what to do:
From the summit, head down across the aggregate rock. Go right (east) at your first opportunity. The trail splits a short way down; the left branch takes you on a loop trail along the edge and rejoins the trail.
Eventually you’ll take a right fork, but not this intersection by a small Arbutus tree:
Continue down the main trail until you come to a ‘T’. You want to turn right here because going left takes you to Collins Road, a long, long, long way from your car!). Only 200 metres along you’ll come to the Lassie Trail intersection. Continue straight ahead to your car.