Lower & Upper Hanging Lakes

Access to these lakes was reputed to be almost impossible especially getting to either of them and back in a day. I can't remember how many years ago I first found out about this place. At that time it was supposed to be a fairly easy day trip but since then nature took it's course and won over. There was only one trail and route to these lakes at that time. The trail started from a parking lot in Sapper Park at the south end of Chilliwack Lake and followed the west side of the river south until it got to Hanging Lake Creek and followed it to the lower lake going west. From the lower lake it was a hike and bit of a scramble to the upper lake. Later the upper lake could be accessed from Center Creek FSR from the north off the Chilliwack River Road.

The only trail to any of these lakes was to the lower lake from Sapper Park and to get to Sapper Park the road crossed over a bridge on the South Chilliwack River. That was washed out years ago and an ECO Reserve was established that had a trail running along the east side of the river to the border and into the states where the river could be crossed to get to the Hanging Lake Trail on the other side of the river at different shallow spots along it. Since access then became limited depending on the river level and the changes it made over the years the trail faded away in most parts until it was almost impossible to find along the river. The most evident place where the old trail was found was on the south side of Hanging Lake Creek but then it vanished again going into what became known as the dreaded Bush Bowl, a lower cirque like valley. The Bush Bowl is a huge thicket comprised of various types of vegitation and small tree type bush. Masses of Salmon Berry bushes are every where mixed in with various types of low growing tangle weeds. There are also stretches and clumps of Alder and Mountain Maple. All that mess covers various sized boulders ready to brake ankles or get trapped in large holes between them.

The Bush Bowl is the crux of the route to get to the lake and has turned back even the toughest and most determined hikers and bushwackers over the years. If any made it to the lake it took a long day to get there never mind returning the same day, that was out of the question. Trails were whacked out through the brush but the bush grew back with a vengence the following year and was not only impossible to find again but any flagging was lost in the new overgrowth also. Over the years very few people made it to the lake.

I knew I could get to the lakes on a long weekend or even longer but why fight through the Bush Bowl and since this was a nice isolated and hard to reach area I knew I would want to be going back to it for the solitude. It did not make sense to try and follow the old trail route so I decided to look for another route.
The first obstacle was crossing the river and since it changed all the time the only constant part of it was at it's mouth. The trouble with crossing there is that there is for the most part only a short window well the river is low. Also it is very chilly during the fall and spring months but is very refreshing during the summer.

So that is where I started my route.
The first picture left below is of Hanging Creek Valley between the near ridge and far high ridge.
The next three pictures are of the lake beach and the last one shows the red ribbon flagging on the low alder bush left of the evergreen trees which is the beginning of my route.

Looking up the lake from near the beginning of my route entrance.

My son Jeff coming back after crossing the river mouth. Jeff helped me search for a route at the very beginning of all the trips I made in there searching for the ultimate route.

I met another fellow named Marlon or Max as he liked to be called and he helped me do most of the toughest route finding which was some rough gullies and through the bush bowl.
Max, drying off and warming up by the fire after crossing a deep and very cold South Chilliwack River near the beginning of winter. That was to be the last time I crossed the river there and found another river crossing from the ECO Trail farther up the river after that.

On the ECO Trail and some very big trees along it.
Karl in the picture below on right. I took Karl as far as the Bush Bowl to show him the beginning of the route.

Strange looking plant.

Grassy marsh along the river.

Looking down at part of the South Chilliwack River Valley and parts of the Canadian/US border cut line from a small rock slide along the route.

Mount Nodoubt left and Bear Mountain right below.

Searching for a route in the timber and gullies before the Bush Bowl.

The campsite in the timber swath just before the Bush Bowl.

Looking back at Mount Nodoubt well starting into the Bush Bowl.

Max in the Bush Bowl.

Small creek in the Bush Bowl.

Scouting for the best route through the bowl.

View of what's ahead.

View of where we came from and the tree stand where the campsite is.

First close sight of Hanging Creek Falls.

The notch above marking where the lake is.

Max trying to find a route to the falls.

The so called Tree Island in the mountain shade.

Another look back, a view of the border line and a look at Middle Peak ridge where the border cut goes up toward the lake.

Max left, me right posing by the falls.

Hanging Lake Creek Falls.

Climbing up the gully right of the falls and looking back at the Bush Bowl. Then we realized this could not be the correct way. Max gets down before me well I take pictures. Later we find out we should have gone into the trees where that close one is left in the last picture on the right below.
This was the last trip Max and I did together.

We had flagged a route to the falls and that ended that season. The following year I went back to refine the route Max and I had made. I met two young fellows that had found my route and by using it got to the lake with some route finding of their own past the Bush Bowl. They described where to go at the end of the bowl and the correct way up to the lake from it so I flagged that route which was mostly part of the original Hanging Lake Trail. Some flagging was still showing from previous hikers who had made it there and a few flags were put up by these young fellows also.

Going up the steep hill and view of the falls where the old original trail went. Old trail marker is showing in the bottom right picture.

Crossing the upper gully where Max and I started to climb the year before from the Bush Bowl with border cut line coming into the bowl in the bottom left picture. In the bottom right picture the trail route goes up the left side of the dirt hill, upper right in the picture.

After crossing the rock gully in the upper pictures and climbing through the brush there is this rock slide and instead of crossing almost straight across to continue along the old trail route I went up the rock slide. Later I found out the young fellows went the same way which was incorrect but you can see the mistake when you catch a glimpse of the lake from the upper part of it.

The first sightings of the lake through the timber.

Hanging Lake at the end of the trail.

The mountain ridge of Middle Peak that can be seen from the South Chilliwack River Valley.

Panning shots of the lake and mountain.

Hanging Lake picture from the log-jam at the mouth of Hanging Lake Creek.

The campsite at the lake.

The cabin shelter at the lake.

The border cut line.

Hanging Lake Peak from the lake.

Pictures around the lake.

Me at Hanging Lake.

Panos of Hanging Lake.

Next to continue on to Upper Hanging Lake and the views of Hanging Lake well ascending toward the upper lake.

The many small creeks that drop down into Hanging Lake.

Higher pano view of the southern ridge surrounding that side of the lake.

The Knob and the Notch.
Moraine in the bottom left picture.

Middle Peak.

The ridge from Middle Peak to Hanging Lake Peak in bottom right picture.

Pano of the above pictures together.

Entering the huge boulder field.

View of Hanging Lake from the middle of the boulder field.

Looking up toward the pass to Center Creek and Upper Hanging Lake is behind the rise.

Looking down towards Hanging Lake Valley and beyond from the top of the boulder field.

Hanging Lake from above the boulder field and close to Upper Hanging Lake.

Closer view of Middle and Hanging Lake Peaks.

Upper Hanging Lake.

Dropping down to Upper Hanging Lake and posing at the lake in the picture.

Scrambling above to get a picture of the whole lake.
Upper Hanging Lake Creek mouth.

Panos from above of Upper Hanging Lake.

Heading back down and a last picture of Hanging Lake Peak and a pano.

Word got out that I was making a new route to the lake and soon others found it and either made it partially to the lake or made it to the first lake and beyond and also up to the second lake.
These are the people that have found and taken my route so far that I have met along it.

Aaron making his way through the Bush Bowl along my route, in the left picture below.
Aaron and his cousin Jared were the first to find my route and they were the ones that gave me instructions going from the falls to the lake.
Jared is left and Aaron is right in the right picture below.

Matthew is a bull moose. He carries a huge pack like it was a day pack and goes through the bush like it is not there.

Matthew in front, then Spring and Leigh behind in the bottom left picture.
Aaron in front and the same people behind him in the right picture.

Shar left and Noel right.

Paul and his amazing Portuguese Water Dog.

Hedda is an incredible young lady that out hikes me even though I am in my sixties she is ten years older and still going strong.

John and his incredible tough little dog, Katie.

Karl tried for the lake more than once until Steve and him made it to Hanging Lake in record time and back making it the fastest time done in over twenty years.

I met Shawn in the Bush Bowl with some other fellows.
They had the same plan I did to make an alternate route through the bowl.

These young people found me and my route.
Nicolas and Denise tried to follow the old trail to Hanging Lake and got turned around and found me instead.
They are both from Germany sight seeing and Denise was going to Hawaii next and Nicolas went to Banff and continued on across Canada.

Mike and his friend dragged me right across from one end of Chilliwack Lake to the other, starting at Depot Creek and ending at the Campground at the north end of the Lake.

This has been quite a project involving many trips in there to find the ultimate route. I have enjoyed it immensely and it was worth the time spent. I have been to many isolated lakes before but none of them compared to these. The many jewel like streams running down into it and the solitude of the area gives a person not only that satisfied feeling but of huge accomplishment to be in such a priveleged place that not many people have been able to get to in many years.