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.

Rockies Road Trip: Day 5

I awoke early this morning because it was so cold,  I had ice around my mouth and nose as well as my sleeping bag. After packing up camp as quickly as possible I went to to the river that ran through the campsite to shoot the sunrise. It was cold enough for the edges of the fast moving river to ice over!


On the plus side it was the first (and only) sunny day! Once the sun was out the temperature warmed to a more friendly temperature. After setting out from camp I stopped to view Peyto lake from the Bow Pass summit which was one of the more spectacular sights of the whole trip.


Peyto Lake

Bow Summit

There where lots of smaller lakes along the way that always make you want to stop, I stopped at most of them but not all because I was running out of time.


Next stop was the Athabasca glacier in the Columbia ice field, I had high hopes for this but could not help but feel a little let down. You could not really get to close to the glacier because of liability issues unless you hired a guide which I did not do.



After that it was time to head to Jasper for the night, of course I made a few stops on the way.

Looking back at the Columbia Ice field, the “snow dome”
Bellow Athabasca Falls

Tomorrow a bit of Jasper and then down a long drive to Banff.