Statlu Lake – a hiking trail in Chehalis near Harrison, British Columbia
Closest City: Harrison Hot Springs
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Camping Allowed: Yes
4 X 4 Needed: No
Class: Full Day
Round Trip Trail Distance in KM: 13.2
Hiking Time in HR: 6-8
Average Grade %: 2.7
Elevation Gain in M: 350
Highest Point in M: 635
Map and Elevation Profile
Note these tracks include our attempt at the upper lake via Brotherhood trail but we only made it 1/3 of the way up.
Statlu Lake is rarely hiked so if you’re looking for solitude, this one’s for you. It’s an intermediate level hike at pretty low elevation so it’s great for springtime.
There are some really sketchy sections so I would not recommend it for beginner hikers, people hiking alone, small children or dogs that aren’t incredibly brave and agile. As with every hike, make sure you are prepared. Leave a trip plan and be sure to have all 10 essentials with you! The weather can change on a dime, so be sure to have warm and waterproof gear (learn more about how to stay dry while hiking in this blog post).
It is located in the Fraser Valley, in Chehalis, with the closest well-known town being Harrison Hot Springs.
Note there is zero cell phone reception in this entire area so make sure you download any electronic maps you plan on using beforehand. To find the trailhead, enter these coordinates in Google Maps: 49.504972, -122.004639 or click map image below to navigate to trailhead.
The trailhead is a 3-4 hour drive from Vancouver, with half of that on a gravel logging road. There is no public transportation to the site (for transit-accessible hikes near Vancouver check out this blog post). 2WD vehicles can easily make it (I drove it in my super low clearance Honda Fit Sport at the time), but it’s really slow-going. You could easily shave off an hour driving time with a high clearance vehicle with more robust tires. Contrary to other trail reports, pretty much no vehicle can access the trailhead directly as there is a very narrow, deep ditch at the last turn.
Park off to the side here.
The trailhead is only about 100 metres from this point so save yourself some trouble and just park here. Walk up the road and look for this sign on the tree and head into the forest here on your left.
The trail is pretty straight-forward for the first few kms, aside from a sketchy bridge you have to cross, and then two rushing streams without any bridges. You have to get creative to cross those. The trail is not very steep until about km 3.
There are some tiny orange markers on trees, but especially starting at the lake, keep your eye out for flagging tape.
From about km 3 to 6 there is a pretty steep climb. It’s nothing too taxing for the average hiker, but it will definitely get your lungs pumping.
At the top of this hill, about 3/4 of the way to the lake you will encounter this sign. Take heed. Just beyond you will cross a rock slab that is the top of the big waterfall you’ve been hearing and getting glances of throughout the trail. In June it had very shallow, very slow-moving water and it looks so innocent, like it would be safe to walk to the edge for a peer over BUT IT IS NOT. Lots of people have fallen to their death here. Do yourself a favour and just walk on past it. Really it’s just a waterfall anways, and the views are much nicer from the side. There is another gorgeous waterfall farther on anyways.
At approximately km 6, you get your first look at the lake. There are a few small clearings here to set up a couple tents near the start of the lake, as well as near the other end but views are best from start of lake (clearings near end are more treed in) It is wild camping, so no amenities exist (no potable water, washrooms, fire pits, etc) and as such no fees or reservations are required. Especially when wild camping, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles.
From here the trail is tricky to find. It is covered with very thick brush so stay vigilant to stay on the trail and to not hurt yourself. We all got quite banged up, kneeing boulders we couldn’t see and getting jabbed with sharp branches, etc. I would not recommend doing this hike in shorts! The path is narrow but discernible if you keep your eyes focused. There is some flagging tape to help you out.
The views get prettier and prettier as you walk along the lake.
With the sun shining down on it, the water is a beautiful bright green, and stunningly clear.
A great place for a paddle too!
As you continue along the north side of the lake, you will cross numerous boulder fields. It’s much harder to tell where the path is over these. There are a couple of cairns but a general guidance is to stay low. The first boulder field you cross, it’s easiest to cross at the very bottom over the water at the edge. We found the second boulder field to be a great spot to rest and have lunch at.
The trail carries on for another km or 2 alongside the lake and just before the big creek you will find the rough Brotherhood trail on your right leading up to the upper lake (a 12 km rt trail climbing 670 metres… twice the length and elevation you did to get to this point…). We did not have enough daylight to make both lakes unfortunately. I would think you need to make it an overnight trip from Vancouver to be able to tackle both safely.
The Brotherhood trail is very rough. It is massively overgrown with rockslides and avalanches having paved over it in parts with massive trees and boulders and ice. You can work your way around them but be aware it’s not always easy to see the trail. It climbs very steeply through thick brush in short switchbacks before levelling off after the first few km. You get beautiful views of Statlu Lake from this trail so even if you don’t make it all the way to the upper lake, it’s a nice extra climb.
INTERESTING HISTORICAL FACT!
Ken Lord, one the Brotherhood Trail trailbuilders, shared this information with me:
“This extension of the Statlu Lake trail called the Brotherhood Trail was first named by a group of 20 guys from a Vancouver men’s group in 1989. Armed with picks and shovels, they blazed a 2km trail rising 500m in a single long weekend. The trail started from Statlu Lake to the unnamed upper Lake (now commonly referred to as Brotherhood Lake). Once a year, the Vancouver non profit men’s group organizes a publicly beneficial project called The Grunt. In 1989, The Grunt project was building this trail to expand the public use of this stunningly beautiful natural habitat, and to have an argument to curtail logging in the area. A helicopter was used to fly in and out all the heavy gear to a work camp, including a cast iron stove.”
Below are some images shared by Ken Lord, North Vancouver resident, of the building of this trail.
Walk just beyond the junction for the Brotherhood trail, there is a nice waterfall you can view safely. You can also see this from the Brotherhood trail.
This is an out-and-back hike. Carry on back the same way you came.
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