Emerald Lake is a scenic alpine lake, glowing in the ridges below Mount Jardine. It’s a family-friendly hike that highlights the mining history in the area, and strong hikers who are comfortable off-trail can explore the ridges above and beyond.
Trailhead and Driving Directions
The road is drivable for experienced and confident 2WD low clearance, otherwise 4WD high clearance is recommended. In late August 2020, there is active logging during the weekdays.
From Kalso, drive 11km West up highway 31A until you reach the Blue Ridge FSR which is signed for the Buchanan Lookout. Reset your odometer.
At 0.4km, fork left where it’s signed for the Wagon Road. Then stay straight on the main road. At 4.3km fork left. At 11km fork left again.
Now you’re entering an area with newer cutblocks. At 11.3km, stay left on the main road. At 11.7km, fork left again. At 12.9km, fork right and ascend.
At 13.3km, you can either switchback on a tight left and ascend onto the old road, or you can park here and go on foot. If you continue on the road, it narrows. Park at 13.5km at the end of a switchback. There is a small pullout with room for 2-3 vehicles.
Look for flagging tape and the start of the trail at the back of the switchback.
The Mining Road
The trail starts off at a gentle grade along an old mining road. It’s flat, easy walking for the first 1km and then switchbacks begin as you near the old mine tailings.
At 1.8km, cross a creek and then pass a mining cabin perched on a scenic meadow. Please respect this historic site and leave no trace when you visit.
Up the Creek
Follow the trail behind the cabin where it begins to ascend up a creek bed. This area is full of flowers in mid-summer.
The trail gets steeper as it follows the draw up towards Jardine’s ridges. In most places it is easy to follow, but there are a couple of sections where it fades into scraps of path.
After 3km, the trail comes out to a saddle in the ridge. You have choices here. You can either continue following the trail down the other side straight to Emerald Lake, or if you want to get a big scenic view of the area, you can turn right and ascend to the high point on the ridge. It’s about 0.4km away and 100m of elevation, but it’s a worthwhile off-trail diversion to get a good look at Mount Jardine and the surrounding panorama.
From the high-point on the ridge, you can also spot Emerald Lake nestled in the meadows far below. Adventurous hikers who are comfortable with a bit of scrambling can use the ridges to do a circuit around the lake or even follow them to Mount Jardine’s summit. You may spot the Mountain Jardine trail far in the distance that comes up from old Beaver Mine – another way of accessing this area.
Down to Emerald Lake
Back on the saddle, follow the trail down the other side of the ridge. It’s guarded by a gnarled old tree.
Shortly after, the trail crosses a boulder field which has been thoughtfully arranged by volunteers. Look for paint and flagging tape to follow the flat rocks and have an easy crossing.
At 4.4km from the trailhead, reach beautiful Emerald Lake. It’s a small lake, but a beautiful destination.
Retrace the trail to head home after.