Summit Mount Cokely

Added by Dan Duerden

Distance: 4km roundtrip (8km if you choose to ski & head to the saddle on the backside). Elevation gain: 800m. Panoramic views of the southern island, Alberni Valley and Georgia Straight. Easily accessible backcountry skiing (there used to be a ski resort on the mountain decades ago). Backcountry camping at Emerald Lake in the shadow of Mt. Arrowsmith.

The starting point depends a lot on the time of year and snow level. On a bad snow year you can get all the way to the old ski area base. Depending on the road conditions, however, be prepared to snowshoe/skin in anywhere from an extra 3 to 5 km (2-3 mi). The Rousseau Chute route is an alternative to the North Slopes ski area, and is located on the right side of the road, about 500 m (0.3 mi) past the concrete barriers described below. There is also a route directly from Highway 4 that begins on the CPR trail.

On Highway 4, heading towards Port Alberni, you will ascend Alberni Summit after driving through Cathedral Grove. About 2 km (1.2 mi) past the summit there is a fairly obviously logging road entrance, both to the right and left. Take the left turn onto Cameron Main.

Follow Cameron Main for approximately 11 km (6.8 mi), until you reach a major fork. Keep left on Pass Main, which will take you through a series of switchbacks and past the accesses for a number of other routes. Around 7 km (4.4 mi) up Pass Main, you will pass some concrete barriers on a hairpin turn. At the fork just over 8 km (5 mi) from the start of Pass Main, make sure you keep right. The ski area gate is another 1 km (0.6 mi) past this fork. If it is still passable, you can drive another 3 km (1.9 mi) to a large clearing and you will see the north face of Cokely, where you can park and begin your ascent.

There is no specific trail, but there is an old ski access road that provides the easiest access to the climb. In the summer, there is a trail visible at the end of the road. Choose your route depending on conditions, but aside from late spring and summer, expect snow and ice - be prepared with ice axes and crampons.

From the summit, it is a relatively steep scramble down to the saddle between Mt. Cokely and Mt. Arrowsmith. You will also have access to Emerald Lake, which is the best spot to camp.

Enjoy the stars and sunrise from the Saddle!

Key Coordinates:

  • Summit: 49°14'23''N, 124°35'18''W
  • Parking area: 49.251227, -124.576930
  • Unofficial Trailhead: 49.249727, -124.580728
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🥈 Contributor

over 5 years ago

Mount Cokely is certainly an under-recognized summit, sitting as it does in the figurative and literal shadow of its big brother, Mount Arrowsmith. But as Dan notes, it's more accessible as a four season adventure for the typical weekend adventurer than Arrowsmith - i.e. far easier to get up in the winter - so should definitely be given its due. The logging roads and ATV activity on the way up are unfortunate, but the alpine views at the top leave you forgetting about all that. And the forest access is stunning.

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