We celebrated New Year’s Day by taking Astrid on her first snowshoeing trip. She’s only 6 months old and she handled it like a champ. We chose to go up to Mount Seymour and do the First Lake loop (half way to Dog Mountain), because it’s a pretty easy trail. And we weren’t the only ones. There were dozens of other families with babies and small children hiking along the trail with us.
We were a bit worried about squeezing the snowshoe into Astrid’s nap schedule. She only stays awake for 1.5-2 hours between naps right now. Luckily, she fell asleep on the car ride up and again in the ErgoBaby on the return part of our hike.
We probably should have fed Astrid at the lodge before we started our snowshoe, but we forgot. So Emily had to find a nice sheltered spot in the trees and breastfeed her in the sub-zero temperatures. A real Canadian moment.
For those heading up to Mount Seymour to snowshoe the Dog Mountain or First Pump trails, it’s valuable to know about new parking rules. It’s still free to park, but backcountry users have been restricted from using the main parking lots.
Winter visitors (Nov to Apr) who are not using the CRA but wish to enjoy the backcountry have access to Dog Mountain, First Lake Trail and the Mt. Seymour Main Trail and are required to park in parking lots 1 and 5. Overnight parking is permitted in parking lot 1 and in the designated area of parking lot 2.
Lot 1 is at the group camp site, a 1.5 km hike from the start of snowshoeing trails with a 500 meter elevation gain. Lot 5 is along the side of the road. On nice weekends, both lots fill up quickly. Check the Mt_Seymour Twitter feed for updates about road conditions and full parking lots.
On Saturday morning at 10:45 AM they tweeted about the parking lots being full, and suggested using shuttle from the base of the mountain. The shuttle is $6/person each way, so it’s not worth it for large groups. Luckily, when we showed up at 1:00 PM, enough people had left that we had no problems finding a spot.
The hike up from parking Lot 1 adds another 20 minutes to your hike, so plan ahead.
Description: There are two free, marked snowshoe trails starting at the Mount Seymour parking lot. Dog Mountain is a short, easy, and mostly flat hike. The The Mount Seymour Trail is a longer, steeper, and more strenuous hike that ascends 400 meters up the mountain to First Pump Peak (and beyond if you’re feeling adventurous). On clear days, the views from the top of Mount Seymour are breath-taking. But even on cloudy days (like we had) the hike is a great workout, lots of fun, and a fabulous opportunity to play in the snow.
The snowshoe up to First Pump Peak is a lot like snowshoeing up Hollyburn Mountain at Cypress. Both trails are free, start at a ski resort, have significant elevation gain, offer great views of the city, and have opportunities to crazy carpet on the way down. The only difference is the Hollyburn Trail takes 4 hours, while the Mount Seymour Trail takes 3 hours to the First Pump Peak, and can be extended longer if you want to go to the second and third peaks.
The Mount Seymour Trail does go through potential avalanche terrain, so you should check South Coast avalanche conditions before heading up. If the conditions are low or moderate the trail should be safe.
Total Time: 3 hours Ascent to First Pump Peak: 1 hour and 30 minutes Lunch Break at First Pump Peak: 30 minutes Descent to Parking Lot: 1 hour
Transportation: There is a $10 Seymour Shuttle that will take you to the top of Mount Seymour from Lonsdale Quay or Parkgate Village. If you drive, make sure you check the road conditions (sometimes winter tires or chains are required). Directions from Google Maps.
Parking Update: In the winter, parking is free but controlled by the ski resort, which has recently limited access to backcountry users. Backountry users are asked to park along the road (P5) or at the group campground (P1), which is 1500 meters down the road from the trail head. The extra hike isn’t a big deal, as along as you budget the time. A bigger problem is the parking lots often fill up on nice weekend mornings. Check the Mt_Seymour Twitter feed for road and parking lot updates. On Saturday morning at 10:45 AM they tweeted “Backcountry Parking Lots 1 & 5 are full. Backcountry users can use our shuttle bus from Parkgate Community Centre.” But by 1:00 PM people had started to leave and there was lots of room in the parking lots.