Sumas Peak (Sumas Mountain)

May 15, 2020


Abbotsford / Fraser Valley, BC

There are two peaks with very similar characteristics and in close proximity to each other named “Sumas” not far from Vancouver. One of them locates in Washington very close to the border and the other is in British Columbia, also not far from the border. The official name of the one in BC is Sumas Peak while the one in Washington is Sumas Mountain. However, Sumas Peak is the highest point of a large wooded massif that is also well-known as “Sumas Mountain”. In short words, the name “Sumas” isn’t confusing if one doesn’t like crossing the country border to bag peaks (which is the case for 99% peak-baggers that I know), but for baggers-without-borders like me this name definitely needs some extra clarification. The better differentiation is simply “BC Sumas” vs. “WA Sumas”.

The decision to ascend Sumas Peak in BC was a spontaneous one on this Friday. The weather was not stable but did show a clearing trend towards the evening. As the afternoon progressed I figured there’s a good chance the weather would actually clear up by the late evening, but given that I wouldn’t finish work until 6 pm there wasn’t much option. I quickly decided on Sumas Peak via the quickest access, that was to drive to the upper parking lot with less than 300 m elevation gain to the summit. To my surprise both Wendy and Alex were able to join with only a couple hours’ of notice. They made their way to White Rock and we quickly piled into my truck. An hour later we were cruising up the Taggart/Sumas Mountain Road. We passed a gate just at where the road turned gravel with signs of “gate hour 7am to 9pm” but I didn’t give it a fuck as in the past 9 years of peak-bagging I never gave a fuck about gates or area closures even in foreign countries, and never ran into a problem..

Sumas Peak (Sumas Mountain) hiking route. GPX DL

We discovered that there were only 2 vehicles parked at the upper parking lot. We were surprised given that it’s a sunny Friday evening. The hike up the communication tower road was boring that after a switchback or two we bailed into the woods. The trail system was clearly marked on my Gaia map and the trails were indeed a bit more enjoyable than plodding up the road. The true summit had nothing but some large towers but I came prepared with researches showing there’s decent views on some “east lookouts”. We followed some unsigned trails descending a bit to a soso viewpoint and thought that’s it, but my memory from wasting life on Instagram told us that was not correct. There was a even fainter trail descending from the first lookout so I ditched the backpack and went to check out. Five minutes later after losing some elevation I came to a much better viewpoint with unobstructed views of the Fraser Valley and Chilliwack area so rushed back. Thankfully Alex and Wendy were already on their way down and was carrying my backpack too. We spent the next hour waiting for sunset and shooting photos.

Wendy and Alex walking up the boring road.

More about the road walk.

We soon picked up a trail which was slightly more enjoyable

Arriving at the better viewpoint.

Wendy taking in the views.

Wendy posing on the cliff edge. This is a great spot!

Me taking in the views. Photo by Wendy M.

Alex and I discussing something that I don’t even remember

Mt. McGuire, The Border Peaks and Mt. Larabee

Slesse Mtn. catching the evening glow

The Fraser River and Chilliwack Mtn. down below

Cheam, Lady, Knight and Welch on Cheam Range

Mt. Robie Reid and Mt. Judge Howay poking over the horizon

The Fraser Valley at dusk

Me still taking in the views of the Fraser Valley.

Eventually the light became too low for our iPhone cameras so we reluctantly hiked back to the first viewpoint, and somehow got disoriented descending northwards down Chadsey Lake Trail. Thankfully we realized the mistake and backtracked. We did a short bushwhack to rejoin the road and then tagged the summit by the communication tower (didn’t bother to take any photo), and then leisurely walked back to the parking lot. The drive down was fast until we saw that locked gate. It’s apparent that we had to call the towing company who charged us 120 dollars. They showed up more than 2 hours later after midnight and we eventually got back home after 1 am… It was a bit of an expensive trip but the sunset was worth the spent.