The Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) is a gorgeous 29 km trail stretching from Cypress Bowl to Porteau Cove. The trail takes you over multiple summits, offering spectacular views of Howe Sound, the Lions, and the beautifully turquoise Deeks Lakes, to name a few. The trail is no walk-in-the-park and istypically tackled as an overnight trip, which is the safest way. However, it can be completed in one day by an experienced and fit person. I completed the Howe Sound Crest Trail with a friend as a trail run in about 9 hours. If you wanted to hike, and start the day very early, you can surely traverse the whole trail in one day, just be prepared to be finishing your hike in the dark, and tired. The scenery is so spectacular that you’re better off planning to camp overnight, and taking the time to enjoy the trail without risk of getting stuck in the dark overnight if your day-hike doesn’t go to plan. There are several popular spots to camp, detailed below in the post (open fires are not permitted).
Rating: Very Difficult
Distance: 29 km
Elevation Gain: 610 m
Cumulative Elevation Gain: Approx 1,830m gain / 2,600m descent (according to my personal GPS, not including ascent of west Lion). Reverse those numbers if you start at Porteau Cove.
Highest Point: 1,542 m (Unnecessary Ridge)
Time Needed: 1-2 Days
Type: Point to Point
Season: Late Summer
Dogs Allowed: Yes (on leash)
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 30 Minutes
Trailhead Coordinates: N49.395901, W-123.203933
There is a Strava segment for this route, which is normally run south to north, providing a net elevation loss of about 830m.
More FKTs from the Vancouver area are here.
Gary Robbins was believed to have the FKT for a couple years, with 3h45m30s set 8/04/2014. But, in 2018 Gary realized that he had missed part of the route, and so disqualified himself. He posted the story to Instagram:
"I came to the unfortunate realization yesterday, that I never actually legitimately set the Howe Sound Crest Trail FKT back in 2014. I thought I knew the route intimately, but it turns out I made a mistake & missed a section at Unnecessary Mtn. This doesn't really short distance, but it does short some climbing. I don't know what the time savings may or may not be, but no less, I messed up the prescribed route & my time should be disqualified.
Thankfully Mike Murphy has since bettered my time on that day, so it's not the standing FKT, but no less, it will need to be scrubbed from the historical records. Eric Carter & Nick Elson held the FKT at that point in 3h51m, & I must apologize to all of them for this error. They're all friends of mine & I know no one will be too upset, but Murph worked his tail of to better my 3h45m time & if I'm not mistaken he did surpass Nick & Eric's time a few times... meaning he now has the two fastest efforts & he should never have had to run it that additional time. Sorry guys, I messed up. Murph, I think I owe you some gas money & a beer."