Vancouver Island Hikes – Mount Work
In August, the west coast of Canada (and well…the whole northwest of America) was either on fire, or full of smoke. We already had plans to visit Vancouver island to visit friends on Hornby Island. But after that, we decided to stay an extra day and check out a hike on Vancouver Island. There are several fun sounding hikes in my 105 hikes book; Mount Work, Jocelyn Hill and Mount Finlayson.
Unfortunately, the smoke became much worse during our trip, so we opted for the easiest hike through trees – Mount Work. We hoped the trees might diminish the smokey feeling. Plus, at least we could look around the forest, even if we couldn’t see any Vancouver Island views!
Mount Work – the basics
Distance: The hike in 100 hikes book is 6km. Our version was about 7km.
Elevation gain: 230 m
Highest Point: 450 m
Time: 2 hours
What to bring:
It’s pretty easy, but slippy in places. Bring your walking boots at least!
Aim to always bring the Ten essentials
There is a loo in the carpark at the start of the trail
Very dog friendly. We met several happy doggos on leads
How hard is it?
Easy. The path is well sign-posted and although it’ll get your heart going, it’s not hard at all.
Mount Work Map
I’ve mentioned before that pollution and smoke triggers my asthma. Because of that, I found this hike really hard. The trees do help filter some of the smoke, but there was just so much that we could easily taste it. Basically the hike looked amazing with the smog, but it didn’t feel very nice. We had to take it quite slowly!
We didn’t actually forage, but there were plenty of salal berries and really cool mushrooms on Mount Work.
One really lovely thing about Mount Work summit trail is all the amazing trees. Look at the cool growths on this one!
We found one tree that looked like it had been thoroughly tapped by a woodpecker. We also found quite a few arbutus trees with hanging lichen that looked like it had lametta (tinsel strands.) This must look amazingly christmassy on icy days!
However my favourite trees on Mount Work were the arbutus trees. I have never seen so many gathered together in one place. Each one has an original, crazy shape. They are also so many different shades of red, orange and yellow as the bark peels off in different stages. If you like the look of them, I have more photos of them on Hornby Island and in Lighthouse Park.
Mount Work will make you work
Although this is an easy walk, there are a few sections that will really get your heart pumping. You need to climb up mossy rock faces lined with more arbutus trees. I was doing my best to breathe through my nose (for the smoke) so my heart rate really soared.
The amazing views – ehem.
So, Mount Work should have some gorgeous views. The weather forecast showed that this was a clear sunny day. It’s just the smoke hid everything! This was much much worse than my day at Brandwine Mountain (even though we were far further from the fires!) If you look really carefully you can just about make out three layers of mountains beyond the trees in the foreground. We should be able to see the sea, as well as lots of islands further away.
This view was actually just before the official summit. Mount Work’s Summit isn’t particularly impressive, but at least it is surrounded by more cool arbutus trees!
Make up your own route home!
We decided to extend our hike a bit and devised our own route back, wiggling our way through Mount Work Regional Park. One of my hiking friends from Wanderung, Jutta, told me about an app called Maps Me, which turns out to be really useful for finding small tracks and paths in the back country. If you like to make up your own routes, it is sooo helpful!
Marc didn’t have the app, so I was our navigator. But he still wandered off ahead. I had to call him back quite a few times when he’d wander off in the wrong direction. We didn’t see a single other hiker once we were off the main summit trail. I guess everyone else is too sensible to hike on a smokey day.
Still, don’t the trees look eerie and spooky through the smoke?
I especially love the golden lighting from the sun through the smog.
Heading back to Vancouver
It is less than 30 minutes drive from the car-park at Mount Work, down to the ferry at Swartz Bay, so we were on the ferry home by the later afternoon. It just looks a bit later because the smoke blots out the sun.
This is our final view of the islands next to Vancouver island (I think they are called Galiano Island and Mayne Island.) This was not particularly pleasant to breathe, but it looks pretty!
I think the hike up Mount Work would be pretty good on a non smokey day. There is hardly any elevation gain, and the hike itself is really varied with the different areas of the forest. It’s just our visit to Vancouver island as just a teeny bit too smokey for us to enjoy it. I guess we’ll just have to go back!!
24 thoughts on “Vancouver Island Hikes – Mount Work”
We’ve done hikes in the smoking condition too. it’s hard. Would never do it again. Be careful out there, my friend.
Yeah, we did some in the trees last year, but it wasn’t quite as bad as this year. 🙁
I was hoping being so far away on Vancouver island it would be better…but this year was just gross.
It was bad in Seattle too wasn’t it?
It looks like a beautiful hike, even with the smoke! Did you have a buff to cover your face with? My buff has been my best friend all summer with the pollen… Asthma can be annoying in the trails!
I had one, but not with me (we really thought it would be better this far away from the mainland!) Doh!!
My asthma was only bad in London. Once I got away from the pollution it went away completely…until the fires start!
I hope the smoke has cleared now. It looks like a really nice place though, despite the smoky screen!
It’s funny… My asthma started about 6 months after I moved to the UK! My husband often jokes that I must be allergic to England!
He might be right. You’re further from the really, really bad pollution in London, but it really might be that! 🙁
I’m hoping the electric cars of the future will make it marginally better, but all the middle class folks with wood burners make the air much worse too. Do you feel better up in the Peak District?
It was certainly worse when we went to London during the heatwave. Heat and pollution is not a good mix for asthmatic lungs… It’s better when we’re away in the countryside, or when it rains. Lately my best runs are always in the rain or just after a downpour!
YES!! It makes such a difference doesn’t it! 😀
I have asthma too so I can only imagine how difficult it was for you. You’re right though it does look beautiful. Have the fires stopped now?
Rachael | https://rachaelstray.com/
I don’t think the fires have stopped completely yet (poor animals) but the air is much much better here in Vancouver. Phew!!
We took a day trip to Vancouver last fall when visiting family in Seattle and only got to see the city. I really wish now that we took time to plan our hikes instead. It looks like a place we would have really enjoyed.
Oooh if you come back let me know, there are sooo many easy little hikes close to the city! Just maybe not this one – it’s out on Vancouver island, so you’d be on a ferry for most of your day trip!!
For me Arbutus are strawberry trees. Do yours have strawberry like fruits on them? The ones in Ireland are safe to eat and pleasant. Love Lis/Mum.
Oooh I have never seen fruits on them! What time of year do they appear!?
The photos are gorgeous despite the smoke. The smoke actually adds a really cool element because it looks like fog. I’m glad you were able to at least get a small hike in despite the air quality. I hope your next one is better.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Thanks Patricia. It was!! I can’t wait to write about our next walk (it was the hardest and most epic hike so far!!)
The smoke really does look like fog doesn’t it! It just feels totally different!
Aww thank you!!
Great smoky mountain!
It was great and very smokey! 🙂
Arbutus trees are just so gorgeous…
Vancouver island is great for them isn’t it! It makes me wonder if there used to be more closer to Vancouver…
Although all that smog is distressing, I love the way your photos turned out. I am a big fan of misty landscapes because they make the imagination work. And those trees, the ones that are coated with moss and vines and extra roots, they delight me. A special mention for the last photograph. The contrast of the dirty grey with the golden glimmer is stunning. xx