Elephant Hill (Ashcroft)

May 14, 2022


Cache Creek / Ashcroft, BC

Elephant Hill is a prominent-looking hill sandwiched between Cache Creek and Ashcroft and between Boston Flats and Thompson River. This area locates in the extreme rainshadow side of the South Coast Ranges to the point that cactus has been growing on Elephant Hill’s flanks. Despite the lowly status this peak boasts over 300 m prominence. There’s a road that goes to the summit, but the road originates from someone’s farm and is off-limit for access. In fact, even though the hill itself is inside a provincial park much of the area is fenced off by private properties. I made the spontaneous decision to check out this hill after completing Mt. Birch‘s scramble in Lillooet area. I very much wanted to just drive home afterwards but the weather was good and I had the time for another peak, so I had to press on.

I skimmed through the database in my brain and picked Elephant Hill in Cache Creek area. There’s more chance of actually getting some sunshine and the ascent should be easy and straightforward. The drive between Lillooet and Cache Creek took about an hour and I stopped in Cache Creek for some cheap gas and lunch. I then drove to the northern slopes of Elephant Hill only to discover multiple signs of “private property” and “no trespassing”. I normally do not give a shit about private properties but I was there in daylight hour and my car parking right in front of their signs would be too obvious. I went back to the maps and decided to drive around the hill. The west side where the dirt roads originated was heavily used by farming so my limited chances existed on the east side. Indeed, I found a small pull-out to park my car and I did not observe any sign of “no trespassing”.

Elephant Hill exploratory route from SE. GPX DL

The downside of parking on the east side was the steep grunt to get onto the upper plateau. I had about 400 m elevation gain to reach the summit and more than half of the gain was done on some insanely steep dirt slopes. I did not complain though, as the steeper the slope, the faster to reach the summit and I did want this hike to be done quickly as I had a long drive back home awaited. After coming onto the upper plateau I picked up the dirt roads but chose to mostly ignore the road. To attack the summit block I stuck on climber’s left closer to the edge. This direct finish is more scenic. The true summit located on the north side of the summit block so I did have to traverse across to tag it. The weather was cloudy but I sensed the clouds would eventually pass. Indeed, after waiting for over half an hour on the summit I was treated by sunshine. The sunshine did not last for more than 10 minutes but that was all I needed for photos.

The initial 200 m gain is way steeper than this photo suggests..
I had about 5 minutes of sunshine at the start of the hike and that’s it until the top
Looking back into the town of Ashcroft
I chose to ascend the summit block more directly and more on the edge
Looking far south down into Thompson River canyon
Cornwall Hills boasts over 800 m prominence, ascended last year during that heat dome
That’s Campbell Hill in the shade at center shot
Me on the summit of Elephant Hill
The summit cairn on Elephant Hill
Looking north towards Cache Creek which was still in the shades
Not sure what they were farming down there…
What you see in the foreground is dirt roads, not trails…
This hill in the foreground is unnamed but the one (smaller) behind is Red Hill

After getting some satisfactory photos I started the descent. I thought about to just walk down the road but decided to retrace my own route down the summit block, partially for more views. I then used the GPS to redirect me back to where I popped out on the upper plateau. Descending the steep hillside from that point back to the car took literally no time. Not wasting much time I immediately turned on the engine and started the long ass drive southwards. The drive through Thompson River canyon to Lytton was very scenic and so was the drive down Fraser Canyon to Hope. I arrived at Hope still with spare daylight, had a late dinner in the Tim Hortons and eventually got back home at 10:30 pm.

The southern extension of Elephant Hill in the foreground
Smaller creek cutting a gorge descending into Thompson River
Elephant Hill’s western flanks from the drive home.