The Petgill Lake trail is a superb trail if you want to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Pacific Northwest. The trail is geared towards an intermediate skill level. It spans 11.5 kilometers and will take you about six hours to complete. The best time to hit the trail is during the summer months. In the spring, it is extremely muddy and prone to rain showers.
The Start of the Petgill Lake Trail
The trailhead is located along the Sea to Sky Highway. It sits near the Murrin Provincial Park. There is an old wood marker that denotes the start of the trailhead. You will see the trail where it climbs steeply up the side of the mountain before disappearing into the trees. Eventually, the trail reaches Petgill Lake. You must pass Petgill Lake to reach the viewpoint which is the gem of the entire experience. The hike from the lake to the viewpoint normally takes about 10 minutes. At the viewpoint, you can soak up the unparalleled vistas of Howe Sound, Mount Sedgwick. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Tantalus Mountain Range.
Prepare for Steep Terrain
Be prepared for steep terrain when hiking this trail. The first section is intense. You usually need to use your hands to make your way up the side of the mountain. The trail will enter the trees and you will continue to ascend up into the forest. There are orange markers on the trees along the trail. The roadway takes you across small ravines, passing numerous viewpoints as you climb along the rocky ledges. At many locations, you can look down at Howe Sound.
The Hike to the Logging Road
For about 30 to 40 minutes you will hike uphill but then the trail descends quickly and you emerge onto a wide gravel logging road. You will follow the wide road which is relatively flat for quite a ways. Eventually, the trail climbs again through a variety of switchbacks. There are two creeks that must be crossed but in the height of summer, they are usually only a trickle.
What to Expect Along the Way
As you progress down the trail, the logging road becomes very overgrown. You will eventually find yourself climbing uphill and downhill until the trail becomes extremely narrow as it winds through large boulders. When you reach the junction, it is time to go left until you reach Petgill Lake. Many people want to take a break at the lake’s side before continuing to the viewpoint.
The Final Viewpoint
After your respite at the lake, it is time to continue to the final viewpoint which is a 10-minute hike away from the lake. Once you reach the viewpoint, you can eat lunch and spend a little time relaxing before you retrace your steps all the way back to your car.