The hike up to Mason’s ridge is part of the historical HBC (1849) Heritage Trail. You can reach it from either direction, but we started from Sowaqua Creek and went via Covile Camp. This part of the HBC trail is very steep and still had quite a lot of snow at the end of June. We could see why the fur traders waited for the snow to melt before they traversed these mountains – it was a tough hike even without camping gear. It must have been exhausting to carry tradeable goods along this route!
We continued our hike along the HBC Heritage Trail to Mason’s Ridge after my previous post about the hike to Covile Camp. If you fancy reading the first part of that walk, please click through to my previous post to see the details of the first part of the trail, including all the fun creek crossings.
HBC (1849) Heritage Trail to Mason’s Ridge – the basics
Distance: 10.4 km from Sowaqua Creek camp (20.8 km return)
Elevation Gain: 1190m
High Point: 1460m (or 1810m if you continue to the top)
Time: 3 hours from Sowaqua Creek to Covile Camp. 2-2.5 hours from Covile to the high point. 1-1.5 hours from the the high point back to Covile camp.
What to bring:
The 10 essentials, plus bug spray, bear spray and hiking poles
If you want to camp, you’ll want camping gear
Facilities: Covile Campground has 3 tent pads, a picnic area, a loo and a bear cache.
Booking: You can’t book or reserve the campsites so we were worried it would be busy. We went on the weekend at the end of June and we were the only campers.
Dogs: Yep, dogs are welcome.
How hard is it? Intermediate, but challenging in the snow. This hike kicked our asses.
Mason’s Ridge from Covile Camp – Getting started
We stored out food and cooking equipment in the bear cache to hike up to the ridge without any of our heavy camping gear. This meant we felt super light compared to the first part of our day with the heavy backpacks. Still it was quite a hot day, so I think we were both sweating after the first few meters!
Logging Road near Covile Camp
Just beyond Covile campground the path crosses a logging road. If you have a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance, you might be able to get *very* close to the campsite without much walking! Still, that would take half the fun out of the adventure.
We saw a black bear on this logging road later on (when we were heading back down the mountain.) He took one look at us and then pegged it off in the other direction before I could get out my camera. Still, maybe this was his footprint from further down the trail. It was a good reminder that we’d need to keep a super-clean campsite that evening!
There are two steep climbs on the hike up to Mason’s Ridge. The first is right after leaving Covile Camp. It is such gorgeous forest. The path weaves around beautiful old trees taking you straight up, without any switchbacks. We did this in the early evening, but it was still hot.
Next you can catch your breath for a while as there is a flat-ish swampy area full of mud and skunk cabbages. Hike to the end of the ridge (you’ll be able to see the light shining through the gap in the trees ahead.)
You lose some of the elevation (nooo). But before the path starts getting steep again, there are some gorgeous views!
Steep hills and snow
The next steep area is actually a little easier as there are well-built switch backs that make it much easier to plod uphill. However quite soon we met some patchy snow. This quickly changed from patches of snow to snow covering everything. Lots of snow had already melted, so what was left had cool patterns as if is had been lapped by waves in a shallow sea. It’s difficult to find the path in the snow, but we did find the occasional orange flagging to show we were heading the right way.
As you hike higher, the views just get better and better. I loved seeing the layers and layers of blue mountains of the Cascade wilderness.
We made it to the high point of the HBC Heritage Trail. However we couldn’t find the trail in the snow to go higher to the top of Mason’s ridge. We got some fantastic views of the cliffs by Mount Jarvis, but we never found the path out of the trees for more unobstructed views. We’ll have to return when there is less snow so we can venture a little higher up the ridge.
Views below Mason’s Ridge
We settled for snacks while overlooking the incredible forest-filled views from the trail. By this point it was 6:30pm, and we were getting peckish, so we turned back down to Covile Camp.
Heading down this trail was a lot easier than hiking up (mostly because the heat was starting to subside.) The light was incredible as the sun started to set, bathing the whole forest in pretty golden light.
Back to Covile Camp
In the end, it only took an hour and a quarter to return down the mountain (it was more like 2 and a quarter up!) We were pretty exhausted; So we just ate, washed in the creek and fell asleep listening to the sounds of the forest.
I would really like to come back and explore Mason’s Ridge later in the year, when the lack of snow would make it easier to reach the top of the ridge and the viewpoint! I’d love to hear what you think of it. Or, if you don’t feel chatty, you can click on the pins below to save them.