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.
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.
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.