West Knob – Peak Bagging

West Knob – Peak Bagging

West Knob is one of the perfect spots to go Peak Bagging in the springtime when there is still snow at higher elevations. The forest is seriously pretty, especially if you visit on a sunny day. The trail leads you to a viewpoint that has some fantastic views. Plus if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be lucky enough to find whiskey in the mountains.

This post contains a mix of photos from the previous time I hiked to West Knob (and then on a big loop over and around Black Mountain) as well as my more recent attempt in April 2021 with my new hiking friend, Robin.

West Knob Map

This is close to the route we took – you have to go a little higher to reach the true peak.

Whyte Lake – West Knob – Donut Rock – the basics

Distance: 11 km 
Elevation gain
: 700m
Highest Point: 770m (if you find the cairn, viewpoint is 730m)
Time: 3.5-4 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
There is a really cool outhouse at Whyte Lake
Dog friendly trail.
How hard is it?
Easy/intermediate. It is a fun workout, but it is easy to get lost (we went wrong after the rock pile, but noticed and managed to correct ourselves.)

Wait, what is Peak Bagging?

If you have read my post about the fabulous book, the Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore, you might have learned about Peak Bagging. This is where hikers and climbers try to reach a collection of summits in one geographical area. Every summer people compete to see who can bag the most North Shore peaks. This year I joined a facebook group of friendly peak baggers. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to climb all 72 mountains this year, but I am aiming for 15-20 peaks.

West Knob was my third official Peak for 2021. (The week before Robin and I hiked to Dam Mountain and Thunderbird Ridge)

West Knob – Getting started

There are a few different ways to reach West Knob. We started at the trailhead for Whyte Lake but you can also start down at sea level at Horseshoe Bay. The easiest way is to follow Nelson’s creek up to Whyte Lake, go around the lake and keep heading up the mountain.

Whyte Lake

We stopped off to visit Whyte Lake. It was still frozen near the dock, and was super quiet early on a Saturday morning. (The only other visitor was a friendly duck.) This area was much busier on our way back a few hours later, so if you want to see it looking this serene, come early. The lower trails close to Whyte Lake get very busy, but for some reason there never seem to be many hikers heading further up the trail to West Knob.

Rock Pile

Once we’d visited the lake we headed straight up the trail towards West Knob. Be careful to watch out for a trail that forks left quite soon (about 300m) after the rock pile. We totally missed the turning and kept hiking up to Nelson’s Creek before we realized our error.

In April the snowline started at around 600m. There wasn’t much accumulated snow, but the forest looked like someone had been through sprinkling frosting. There was a thin layer of new snow that got slightly thicker as we hiked up to the viewpoint.

West Knob Viewpoint

When we arrived we had the West Knob viewpoint to ourselves. You need to peek over the surrounding trees, but I love the scenery from this part of West Vancouver.

I did not realize this the previous time we hiked to West Knob, but the viewpoint isn’t the official peak. To find the true peak, you need to continue up a steep slope behind the viewpoint (we found a faint trail.) There is a cairn about 40m higher up the slope.

West Knob Peak

The true peak does not have such good views as the first viewpoint BUT if you search really carefully, you might find a Whiskey Cache. I love that when we visited the whiskey matched the peak name. Whiskey caches are a bit like geocaches, but more alcoholic! I had read that there is whiskey hidden in the North Shore Mountains, but this is the first time I found some. (Woot woot!)

Please note, the rules of whiskey caches are if you finish the bottle, you need to hike back up and replace it.

If you like the look of this but fancy going a little (or a lot) further, read my post about continuing on to Donut Rock and Black Mountain, then looping back down to Whyte Lake. It is a fantastic loop once the snow has started to melt. Or, if you like the idea of a fun hike that might finish with some whiskey, click on the pins below to save them for later.

45 thoughts on “West Knob – Peak Bagging

    1. I had heard books mention Peak Baggers, but it took me a while to actually try it! It’s a great excuse to get outside.

  1. Thank you for defining Peak Bagging. When I started reading, I was like – whaaa?

    I hope that you exceed your goal. I would love to do something like that, but unfortunately I am scared of getting bitten by ticks.

    1. Oh I know what you mean, we do always do tick checks… so far we’ve been lucky. I have heard there are some in West Vancouver in the springtime.

  2. I’ve heard this term before but never actually knew the official definition, hehe. This is awesome though!! If I lived over there, I’d abbbbsolutely wanna try. (If I ever get to go visit, I’d definitely love to try for at least a few while I’m there! *-*) Your photos are always so stunning — I need to tell my friend who lives there to embark on this so I can live vicariously through him, hehehe.

    1. I guess if we did find an almost empty bottle, I’d prefer it to be somewhere like West Knob where it’s not too hard to go back! 😁

      Some of the big mountains here take us 12+hours…so that would be sooo much harder to go back with whiskey!

  3. Hey Josy A, Your writing style really impresive 🙂
    I want to go Peak Bagging and take some great pictures from fantastic views. I Might be lucky person if find whiskey 🙂

  4. What a beautiful trail! Those trees are incredible! They look so tall! I’ve never heard of whiskey caching before…what a great idea! A bit of a pain if you finish the bottle though! Thanks for the great guide!

  5. This is the first time I’ve heard of peak bagging! Hilarious about the whisky 🥃 replacement. My partner would love this- the whiskey part haha

  6. I really love everything about this! Never heard of peak bagging (but we don’t have any peaks in Florida) and it sounds like such a great goal for a summer. The hike is beautiful and the whiskey cache a great reward!

    1. Oooh I didn’t know Florida doesn’t have any peaks! Do you just have hills then? I grew up in Cambridge in the UK, so I am used to totally flat scenery and huge skies!

  7. This looks like a great hike at West Knob. Good to know that it is a reasonable hike for use to do. If we managed not to get lost! But that viewpoint would be worth all the effort to get there. Since 2 of our kids are on the west coast, I will have to see how many peaks they have bagged!

  8. Josy! We just love your blog. We will definitely be using it as a reference for hiking when we visit the area!!

  9. Well, I like the idea of a Whiskey cache, even though I am not sure if this such a good idea, especially on some more challenging climbs.
    And for Peak Bagging, does the winner get anything but Peak B(r)agging rights?

      1. Lol yeah that is a good pun! 🤣
        I think there are a bunch of different trophies. They normally have a bbq at the end of the hiking season to give them out.

        I’m just in it for the peak (b)ragging rights.

  10. I’ve never heard of peak bagging but it sounds like such a fun challenge, even if you set a smaller goal like you have rather than trying to do all of them, it gives you a challenge for the year. It looks like another gorgeous trail and beautiful views from the (almost) top. I love the whiskey addition too, what’s not to love about this challenge! I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to have some though knowing I had to walk all the down again! This makes me even more desperate to hike somewhere 😊

    1. To be fair I am a massive lightweight since moving to Canada…so I don’t have a whole shot – just a teeny taste!

  11. Ok, not going to lie, I google peak bagging before reading! I assumed what it was from the name, but wanted to be sure. Then, I scrolled down and saw your section that immediately explained… *facepalm*

    And then I got to the whiskey cache. I’m amazed (but not surprised) I hadn’t heard of it either! I love that one of your pins features it. Did you end up partaking in any? I think I would avoid it just because I am kind of a light-weight. And I want to enjoy those gorgeous views with a clear mind, haha!

    1. I brought a small sauce pot (it’s meant to go with my lunchbox…but I am using it as a mini cup) so I can pour a teeny bit and taste it. I am a total lightweight… so I didn’t even have a whole shot!

  12. Haha I love that somebody left “Knob Creek” specifically, very fitting! I’ve never heard of whiskey caching! That’s so fun, I should start that here in Arizona. I wonder how I’d make it clear to other hikers in the area that it’s a *thing*; maybe I can leave comments on AllTrails to stoke the fire.

    I’m surprised by the comments that more people weren’t aware of peak bagging, it’s a big thing in the states in Colorado and to a lesser degree, California, and I know munro bagging is a big thing in Scotland. Maybe if you live outside of those areas it doesn’t come into your purview as much. Always fun to hear different people’s perspectives depending on where they live. Maybe other folks would be shocked I hadn’t known about whiskey caching!

    1. Now you mention it, I did know that people like to “bag” the +14000ft Mountains in the States.. and I climbed all the mountains I could see from our house in Ireland when I was a kid. It’s just this is the first time that I found a community that all attempts the same group of peaks,

      I think it is seeing other people’s trip reports/sharing details about the amount of snow on the trails etc that has made Peak Bagging extra fun this year. It’s like a mini hiking club.

    1. Right!? We can’t normally finish hikes in pubs like we do back in the UK…so having a teeny bit of whiskey at the peak is a nice alternative.

  13. This looks like such a lovely hike! I had never heard of peak bagging before, at least not that term. I live close to the Adirondack Mountains in NY and there is something similar done every year that could be labeled as peak bagging. I love the idea of the Whiskey to-a little reward for the hike!

    1. Oooh I wonder if there is a Peak Bagging group for the Adirondack Mountains too!? Maybe you’ll be able to find one for your area!

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