Century Sam Lake

Century Sam lake is a spectacular alpine lake located in the shadow of the Comox glacier. While the hike is steep at time it is relatively short. Unfortunately access to the trail head can be a pain. The first hurdle is that it is accessed via private logging roads controlled by TimberWest and generally the area is gated off. Access can be checked through their website, you want to check the status for “Comox main”. The last hurdle that is the last KM or so of road is in poor shape and has a number of large washouts which will require a decent 4×4 vehicle to get past. If you do not have a vehicle capable you can walk but this will extend your hike somewhat.

Assuming you can gain access to the trail head there is a lovely hike starting relatively flat following a creek through some mature forest and a few slide paths before getting into a step section of forest that you will make your way through until you reach the lake at the top. While the lake is stunning one of the other attractions is a snow cave which is often formed in the snowfield just beyond the lake.

Crossing the steam near the trail head

The lake is filled from a snowfield and the Comox glacier (I assume) which sits above the lake which gives it that stunning “alpine” lake colour from the particles suspended in the water.

Looking down onto Century Sam lake
Looking down onto Century Sam lake

One of the big draws of this hike is the “snow cave” that is formed in the snowfield at the far end of the lake. While this is a stunningly beautiful feature use extreme caution if you decide to explore inside of it, there is no knowing when/if it will collapse.

Water coming down the side of the surrounding mountains with the snow cave in the background
Melt water pouring out of the cave entrance, notice the collapsed snow and ice
A large ice arch formed in the remaining snow and ice

Inside the cave while eerie and ominous is a pretty amazing place once you get past the constant deluge of cold water falling from the ceiling.

Looking out towards the entrance of the cave
A fellow explorer standing in one of the cave entrances
Melt water carves it’s way through the ice and rock towards the cave entrance

Century Sam is a trip well worth taking assuming you are able to gain access to the trail head. It is one of the more unique hikes I have done on Vancouver Island and given the relative ease of the hike given the nature of the scenery it is certainly very rewarding. The trail is usually in good condition as it is maintained by Comox District Mountaineering Club and is well marked for the most part.

4 thoughts on “Century Sam Lake”

    1. It’s about a 2-3 hour hike from the trail head. The trailhead is accessed through private forest land which means it can be closed off at times (due to high fire risk etc). I think the road to the trailhead has also been deactivated so you may need to walk a bit further unless you have a capable 4×4.

    1. It has been a few years since I was up there. The last time I was up there you could drive right to the trailhead with a reasonable 4×4 with decent clearance. My understanding is that may not be possible any longer, I would guess it would add 1-2km to the hike but I am not 100% sure.

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