Elsay Lake is a hike in Seymour Provincial Park which can be done as a long day hike or as an overnight. We wanted to try and get in one more overnight before winter conditions set in on the mountains, so we set out to Elsay Lake on Thanksgiving Weekend.
Getting to Seymour Provincial Park
In the summertime, the only way to get to Seymour is to drive. You then need to make sure you park in the correct spot – the BC Parks website is a bit confusing because they talk about winter parking and then indicate that overnight parking is only allowed in Lot 1. We parked in Lot 1, but as we were walking from the parking lot to the trailhead we noticed that Lot 2 had signage saying to park overnight there. When we returned to our car the next day, we had a “warning” saying we parked in the wrong location.
So moral of the story – park in Lot 2 if you are parking overnight in the summer!
The official start of the trail is at the BC Parks signage boards at the end of the parking lot. You follow the main Seymour trail for about an hour before the turnoff onto the Elsay Lake trail. This trail is well maintained with slight elevation gain. The junction is clearly marked and there is also a sign letting you know it’s the “Wrong Way to Parking Lot” – presumably a few day hikers have taken a wrong turn.
Once you are on the Elsay Lake trail, you start to descend pretty quickly. The trail crosses a boulder field before popping back into the forest. The trail is well-flagged and marked in both the boulder and forested regions.
Once you are in the forest again, you’ll hit a ponded area, you still have a little ways to go until the lake, but the rest of the trail is relatively flat (compared to the rest at least) and easy going.
Overall it took us 5 hours from the trailhead to the lake including a break for lunch.
There is a shelter at the lake with a sleeping loft as well as a number of tent sites. If you stay in the shelter or use it for cooking, remember to leave it in nicer condition than when you arrived and to pack out all your garbage.
Also, keep in mind that fires are not allowed in the Seymour backcountry – so you won’t be able to have one at Elsay Lake. There were several fire rings around the lake with burnt wood that we tried to scatter as best we could to discourage them from being used in the future.
The lake is in the shadow of Mount Elsay, mornings/evenings might be a little cooler than you expect as it takes some time for the sun to pop above the mountain.
Elsay Lake is a lovely destination if you are looking for a quick overnight trip. I’d suggest heading out on a weekday or late in the season to avoid other groups at the lake (we ran into three groups that had stayed the night before at Elsay Lake on our way in). Also, keep in mind that the trail is more challenging than its length would indicate – the BC Parks website is accurate when they suggest this is a 9-10 hour round trip.