The trail to Silver Spray Cabin just goes up and up and up. Up through the forest, up along Silver Spray Creek, up around Clover Basin. The reward is an alpine cabin situated in a beautiful basin of lakes and meadows and peaks.
Distance, round trip: 14.4km
Season: mid-July to late September
Trailhead & Driving Directions
This is a rough road and the final 2km is suitable only for 4WD high clearance vehicles. 2WD low clearance vehicles may struggle on the waterbars on the earlier sections of the road, so be warned. If you’re staying overnight, remember to porcupine-proof your car!
From Highway 31, turn onto Woodbury-Fletcher FSR. This road starts 22.km north of Balfour or 14.3km south of Kalso, and it is signed for Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.
Reset your odometer and drive up Woodbury-Fletcher FSR. The road immediately ascends with lots of waterbars. At 1km, reached a signed junction and fork left. At 1.5km, fork right and stay lower. Reach a 3-way triangle intersection at 2.4km and stay right. The road now follows Woodbury Creek and slowly ascends. Continue on, staying on the main road and ignore overgrown spurs. You’ll cross Woodbury Creek and then continue up. At 11.5km, reach a signed junction for Woodbury, Silverspray, and Sunset Lake. If you’re in a 2WD or low-clearance vehicle or unsure whether you’d be able to get back up to this point, park here. Otherwise, take the right fork and descend over steep lumpy waterbars. The last 2km of road is rough and overgrown.
Up the Trail
The trail takes off, tunnelling into the forest and crossing a few old slide paths. Cross Woodbury Creek and then follow a series of small boardwalks and bridges higher up the meadow.
At 1.5km, reach a junction. Left continues up the creek to Woodbury Cabin and right climbs to Silver Spray. Go right. Looking up, you’ll see the high, open terrain of an old forest burn. In the summer heat, it is a real slog with a south-facing slope and no shade. That is where you’re heading….
It’s a steep and relentless climb. The good news is that there are beautiful views of distant glaciers and peaks. And huckleberries!
The trail switchbacks over the slope, nears Silverspray Creek, then climbs away again. Eventually it begins to level out into a dense healthy forest – some welcome shade!
At 3.8km reach ‘the Oasis’. It’s where the trail crosses Silver Spray Creek in a deep shady forest. There is a bench beside the creek and it’s blissfully cool and refreshing after that long climb. You’ve now done half the elevation and about half the distance. Enjoy the break and re-fill your water.
As you leave the Oasis, the trail crosses some marshy sections and then goes right back into the old burn and continues to climb.
Around Clover Basin
As you ascend, look up! You’re entering a huge bowl called Clover Basin. You’ll see the headwall far above to the left – just over the lip is Silver Spray Cabin, tucked out of sight.
The trail contours around Clover Basin and crosses old slide paths with some rocky sections.
As you near the headwall, the trail will switch-back up a small creeklet and then wind along a series of meadow-y benches with big mature larches. It’s a very scenic stretch, but the climb continues!
Now you’re getting close. Keep hiking up among larches and boulders. You’ll pass a memorial plaque for the skiers who perished in a 1998 avalanche in Clover Basin.
Silver Spray Cabin
At last, the trail levels out and you’ll turn a corner to reach Silver Spray Cabin!
The cabin sleeps 8 and can be booked online through the Alpine Club of Canada. It’s a cozy space with a propane stove and lights, board games, and plenty of cooking gear. All you need to bring is your sleeping bag, food, and TP!
It took us 4 hours to reach the cabin. Strong hikers might be happy to day hike in and out, but it’s worthwhile to stay at the cabin for a night if you can book it.
Bonus: Violet Mine Hike
Once you’re at Silver Spray Cabin, you can choose to hike higher to the old Violet mine in the col between Sunrise and McQuarrie Peaks.
Distance, round trip: 2.4km
Hike behind the cabin and follow the path to the outhouse and water source. Cross the creek and pick your way up the slope – you’ll start to see cairns and boot-beaten path. Keep following the cairns and climb higher, over benches of rock.
You’ll soon pick up a pretty well-established trail with cairns dotting the way. This path will steadily ascend to the gap between Sunrise and McQuarrie peaks.
Once you explore the mining site, you can continue on to the col to gaze out the other side of the ridge line – in the distance, spot faint Mt Brennan.
There are options for scrambling the nearby peaks and experienced trekkers can attempt the Woodbury-Silverspray Traverse over to the Woodbury Cabin.
[…] Purcells and was definitely a challenging hike. I was also pleased to finally get to Woodbury and Silverspray cabins, and hope to do the traverse in 2020. Checking out Carlyle Lodge during peak-larch season […]
[…] 1.5km, reach a junction. Left continues up the creek to Woodbury Cabin and right climbs to Silver Spray. Go left. The trail weaves along the forest floor, crossing a series of boardwalks as it edges […]