Punch Bowl Lake and Snass Mountain

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Despite being in the 103 Hikes book this area seems to see relatively little use, perhaps because the book does not mention access to Snass Mountain or how pretty the trails are. The Whatcom and Dewdney trails in this area can be hiked as a loop and combined with scrambling the surrounding peaks, make a nice 2 or even 3 day outing.

Trail Description

The trail starts out as Dewdney Trail at the Cascade Recreation Area parking lot located 12 km east of the west entrance to Manning park. After 2.5km the Whatcom Trail branches off to the right. The Whatcom Trail gives access to Punch Bowl Lake and the pass above the lake. The pass is right below Snass Mountain and the surrounding unnamed peaks. The trail itself is steepish in the first half, but has great views of the US peaks and traverses the mountain side through several pretty meadows with flowers in the second half.

We camped at the south end of Punch Bowl Lake, but it's probably better to camp at the north end because the flower meadows at the south end are too fragile for frequent camping. From the lake it's very close to Snass Mtn and the surrounding peaks. The Snass Mtn view camp lower down is another camping option (flat, open meadows). We took the Dewdney Trail back to the Highway even though it looked like it would go through the forest in the valley bottom all the way (it's a horse trail). We found out that a map tells you very little about a trail. There was almost no forest in the Snass Creek valley because there are giant avalanche slopes everywhere. The trail seems quite rough in many parts for a horse trail. It follows Snass Ck from the top of the narrow valley along meadows that gradually become higher and denser. At several few points the creek and the trail join (at least in early summer). There were plenty of signs of bears, and visibility in the vegetation was usually less than 5m, so we did a lot of talking. I wouldn't go there in August when the Thimbleberries are ripe and the bears would be harvesting them from the trail. The Whatcome trail was built in the 1850s and it went from Bellingham to Kamloops while the Dewdney trail was built a few years later, going to Princeton and further on to the Rockies.


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