Tag Archives: hike

Be Bear Aware


I took this photo of a Salmonberry Flower at Buntzen Lake. Salmonberries are seen throughout the Buntzen Lake area, more so in sunny locations where the sun can reach the ground surface. In May, these flowers will turn into fruit and bears will be looking for a nice meal ! Bears will also get great meals from blackberries, blueberries and huckleberries to name a few.

I’ve hiked the Buntzen Lake area for a number of years, completing hundreds of hikes and have seen a bear only once, which was on the Old Buntzen Lake Trail right HERE in July 2013. The bear was not concerned with me and was content with the salmonberries or blackberries.

The thing with bears, is that you don’t want to startle them – usually if they know you’re coming, they’ll stay away.  Usually they can hear the sound of your walking, but not always. If I’m alone and in a low traffic area, I will make noise by banging two rocks together or anything that I can find.

I also met two different bears on a walk on the Deboville Slough in Northeast Coquitlam in the Summer of 2013. They were so happy with the blueberries and the blackberries, they could care less about me. They also didn’t have cubs !

Here’s are photos of the bears at Deboville Slough in August 2013…

Having a glance

Put on the brakes !

Here is a great resource if you want more info on bears…  www.bearsmart.com

Swan Falls

Today, I ventured up on Eagle Mountain for the first time. Specifically, I went up the Swan Falls trail. I knew the possibility of snow at high elevations was likely, so the plan was to go up as far as I can and turn around when the snow makes trekking difficult. Unfortunately, the cell phone could not get a GPS signal, so I couldn’t determine the elevation at the turn-around point, but I’d guess it to be 800 or 900 m. Below is my route for today…

Today was an amazing April day. It was sunny with a high close to 20C. However, on the ascent, it was cool (still shaded) and there was breeze, but it was all good. I would say the highlight was the view from the Falls, which are at about 300-350m elevation. Below is a view from the falls looking west, towards Buntzen Lake…

View from Swan Falls

Just before reaching the falls, there is a 45 degree incline, where there is a rope to assist you; see below…

Rope Climb

Here is a view on the falls…

Swan Falls

And here is another scenic view…

Great View

Below is a random trail picture…


Next is our traverse through the Lower Gully…

Lower Gully

And here is our traverse through the Upper Gully 30 mins after the Lower Gully…

Upper Gully

Next is a photo near where we turned around. The snow was getting quite deep…

Deep Snow

At the trailhead, on the service road, you can see the falls and the creek, which drains into McCombe Lake…

Swan Falls Creek

Below is a view of Swan Falls from across McCombe Lake and the next one is when the falls were frozen in early February 2014…

Swan Falls 2

Frozen Swan Falls

Here is the sign at the trailhead, with a warning…

Sign at Trailhead

Interesting Nature

Over the years, while hiking the trails around Buntzen Lake, I have seen some interesting things out there. For example, in the photo below, this tree is seriously leaking ! The sap is leaking from high up and it is about an inch thick on the ground and spreads downhill for about 2 m. This tree is on the west side of the Buntzen Lake Trail.

Leaking tree
The next photo is on the east side of Buntzen Lake; it is a burned out tree with a spiral shape. Pretty cool huh ?

Burned out spiral tree

As I wrote in another post, there are numerous old tree stumps around Buntzen Lake – remnants of logging in the early 1900s. The large stumps below are on the south beach of Buntzen Lake. Obviously new trees grew on the old stumps. The new trees were later cut down and the roots can be seen around the original stump ! I wonder how many people have climbed up these stumps on stumps !

Cool stumps on southbeach

One time during a walk on the Lakeview Trail, I noticed damage about 10 feet up on a tree – it looked like someone took a hacksaw to it ! On my next visit, I was surprised to see a woodpecker doing a number on the tree. Since the first time, the woodpecker had started on second section.

More damage

One day, I hiked the Buntzen Lake Trail after a heavy rainfall, and I found this neat little ‘droplet waterfall on a mossy rock’. Check out the video and turn up the volume…

Here’s a branch on a tree that decided to do a loopy loop…

Twisty branch

The next photo below shows a tree with an interesting formation – possibly the result of some kind of trauma as a young tree ?? This tree is on the Diez Vistas Trail…

Interesting pattern on this tree

Below is a stubborn tree that decided it will grow in this place regardless of the big rock !!

Tree grew around this rock !

On the shortcut from the Diez Vistas Trail to the Lakeview Trail, I noticed this interesting pattern on tree roots…

Interesting pattern on this root

Buntzen Lake Tunnel


Apart from the nature, this is one of the most interesting things to see at Buntzen Lake.  Can you imagine, boring a 3.6 km tunnel through a mountain! The tunnel starts at Coquitlam Lake, goes to under Eagle Mountain to a maximum depth of 1.2 km and terminates into the north end of Buntzen Lake. Construction started in January 1903 and was completed in April 1905.  The error in alignment was only 7/8 inch and 1.75 inches in grade. The tunnel project also involved raising the level of the dam on Coquitlam Lake.

UPDATE: 8 JULY 2015:

As the region’s reservoir’s are depleting fast, Metro Vancouver has asked BC Hydro to set aside 68.2 billion litres of water and has budgeted $862,000. This means no or very low flow through the tunnel into Buntzen Lake in the summer of 2015.

The photo below shows a heavy flow through the tunnel…

Tunnel 1

The contractor, Rannie & Campbell, employed over 175 men and sometimes up to 300 ! They worked 8-hour shifts, days nights and holidays. Interesting note: the tunnel was subsequently doubled in size. The photo below shows the tunnel at the base of Eagle Mountain to show perspective…

Eagle Mountain

Many workers were killed during the construction of the tunnel and BC Hydro has set up a memorial by the tunnel…


The maximum flow rate through the tunnel is 40 m3/s. Sometimes the flow is very slow in the tunnel, such as in the photo below…

Low flow through tunnel

The current can be strong and unpredictable – this is why there are many warning signs as seen below…


Water from Buntzen Lake (via the tunnel) flows through penstocks down the steep mountain slope to two power plants located on Indian Arm. During construction of the tunnel, there was a tunnel camp set up on the site of the present north beach. The tunnel camp had dwellings and a blacksmith shop. See the tunnel camp below…

Tunnel Camp

See a short video below of a torrent of water flowing out of the tunnel…

Here’s a photo taken from the trail just above the tunnel…

Above tunnel

Here’s a view inside the tunnel from an explorer.
WARNING: Do not try this. It is illegal and very dangerous as a torrent of water can be released at any time!

Inside the tunnel

Diez Vistas


The Diez Vistas hike is one of the most popular day hikes in Metro Vancouver.
It has been featured in several publications, including:

  • CBC News “5 great Lower Mainland hikes from Vancouver Trails
  • The Province “Hiking in Vancouver: 7 day hikes to try
  • Super Natural British Columbia “5 Hidden Hikes Near Vancouver
  • Spirit Quest Adventures’ “10 Amazing Day Hikes Near Vancouver, British Columbia

Personally, I have done this hike over 3 dozen times and I know it well. To get a description see the hiking page. To get more tips and insight read here ! ‘Diez Vistas’ is Spanish for ‘ten views’.  Sometimes the hike is referred to as ‘Sendero Diez Vistas’; ‘Sendero’ is Spanish for ‘path’ or ‘trail’.  The actual Diez Vistas trail is 7 km long; however, to make the full loop, most people come back via the east side of Buntzen Lake.  The trail length, taking the east side of Buntzen Lake to the end, is roughly 13 km; there is a 430 m ascent to the top and a cumulative elevation gain of about 875 m.  The BC Hydro description states that it is a 6 to 8 hour hike. Very fit hikers can do this hike in under 3 hours with minimal rest stops.  Elite trail runners can do it in under 1 hour 15 mins.

The Diez Vistas Trail was built by Halvor Lunden, an outdoorsman and mountaineer, who volunteered his time to make this and many other great hiking trails. He was born in Norway on 9 July 1915 and he came to Canada in 1951. Halvor passed away on 30 July 2008.

Diez Vistas Trail Fun Fact:

The 7 km long Diez Vistas trail starts and ends in the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area (which is administered by BC Hydro) – a 1.7 km section of the trail winds through Belcarra Regional Park (which is administered by Metro Vancouver) – about 3 km of the trail goes through Indian Arm Provincial Park (which is administered jointly by the Province of British Columbia [BC Parks] and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation). The entire trail is maintained by BC Hydro.

Here is the route with waypoints…



The trail dates back to the 1980s and 5 of the original vistas are obscured by trees (yes, how dare the trees grow !!). On the other hand, there are 5 viewpoints on the trail that were never official ‘Vistas’.

Please check out my post, called Nuevo Diez Vistas to understand vista numbering.

If you do the hike in a clockwise direction (i.e. starting at the old floating bridge area), the first vista (unofficial) is roughly a 3.5 km hike from the parking lot (conversely, if doing the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, you won’t see your first vista until about 8 km). I always do the hike in a clock-wise direction – this way, you’ll do the toughest part of the hike when you have the most energy! – Save the easy walking for the end of the hike!! The first leg of the hike is uphill, with some flat areas to catch your breath. A short distance after you pass the powerlines/pipeline, you’ll hit a number of switchbacks – this is the steepest part of the hike. Below is a view from the first viewpoint (not an official vista)…

First Vista

After resting and checking out this vista (which I named Vista #1 on map below), one has a choice to go to the 3 East Point viewpoints (usually skipped due to poor signage) or take the bypass route (see image below). If you choose to see the 3 East Point viewpoints, you’ll head back about 10 m or so and take a left turn onto a new path – shortly thereafter, you’ll see a viewpoint called Punta Aprecio (Appreciation Point) – shortly after that, you’ll see an unnamed viewpoint – shortly after that, you’ll reach Punta Del Este (East Point) – a view of Buntzen Lake and Eagle Mountain. After viewing East Point, you’ll continue on the trail and meet up with the bypass route at the trail junction.

See image below for loop detail…

Loop detail 2
After another 1 km hike from the trail junction (shown above), you’ll find the next vista, which was originally Vista # 1. This 2nd ‘west view’ Vista shows the south part of Indian Arm and Bedwell Bay. This is my favourite vista…

Best view from Diez Vistas Trail

Some days, you’re above the clouds…

Above the Clouds Diez Vistas

On nice summer days, large groups of people can sometimes be seen at first two west view vistas as seen in the photo below…

Large gathering

Here’s a view from Vista #5 looking north down Indian Arm…

Indian Arm From Vista #5

Here are some trail pictures…

DV Trail

DV Trail 2

DV Trail 3

DV Trail 4

You will see some more Vistas; however, some will have obstructed views. Below are 2 more of the Vistas…



After your first big descent, you will reach, what kind of looks like an old forestry road – just go right and you will reach another trail and go left.

You will continue to wind through the forest and do some serious descents. This trail eventually leads onto a service road, at which you’ll go right; follow this road for 250 m until you meet up with the Old Buntzen Lake Trail SEE LOCATION HERE – you’ll see the trail on your right just before the old water intake building. This trail can get overgrown in the late spring and summer and bears love the salmonberries and blackberries – so keep an eye out. The lake on your left is McCombe Lake and make sure to check the great waterfalls – there is a really high seasonal falls coming out of the rocky slopes (furthest north) and the next one is Swan Falls (See below)…

Swan Falls

The trail will eventually join the Buntzen Lake Trail.
I have many more photos of Diez Vistas and Buntzen Lake HERE


Before heading out on your hike, make sure you are well prepared. This means, having the TEN ESSENTIALS. It is also important to leave a trip plan (route details and estimated return time) with someone you trust.

Bring your smartphone, fully charged and put it in airplane mode while hiking. I always bring back-up battery packs for extra piece of mind. It is highly recommended that you bring a GPS device; I use my smartphone with a GPS app (Backcountry Navigator). The GPS will work in airplane mode. Learn how to use it before your hike.

For anyone new to hiking, there is a rule to which hikers follow; it is called “Leave No Trace” or LNT. The concept is generally to pack out what you pack in and respect nature, so all future visitors can enjoy what you have enjoyed.
To learn more about LNT, please check out this BLOG by a certified LNT Trainer.