Please read our Backcountry Guide before considering this route.
Buckley Lake to Mowdade Lake Route
If backpacking, we recommend that visitors start from Buckley Lake at the north end of Mount Edziza Park and proceed south to Mowdade Lake. This route avoids a long, strenuous climb up Chakima Valley.
Length and time required
The route will vary in length as you choose your route across the plateaus, but is approximately 70 km long from Buckley Lake to Mowdade Lake. We recommend a minimum of 7 days to hike this route, generally covering 10-15 km per day. Remember to consider adding time if planning on using the Klastline River Trail access routes.
Air transportation to Buckley or Mowdade Lake
Only permitted air charter companies are authorized to fly into Mount Edziza Provincial Park. These are:
- Alpine Lakes Air Ltd.
- BC Yukon Air
- Climate and weather can change extremely fast in this area, especially up on the alpine plateaus. Visitors must be prepared for all weather conditions at any time of the year.
- Most of the route is marked by cairns — respect these trail markings and do not build unnecessary cairns. Binoculars are recommended for route-finding cairn to cairn.
- A guide outfitter camp is located adjacent to the BC Parks Buckley Lake Camp. Please do not use tent poles or corral poles leaning in nearby trees for firewood.
- All campsites are user-maintained so pack out what you pack in.
From Buckley Lake to treeline is a gradual climb. The trail is relatively flat across the plateaus, and cones and ridges are excellent landmarks in good visibility conditions.
The terrain becomes more challenging at the Taweh Creek crossing and beyond Cocoa and Coffee Craters to the Chakima Creek Valley.
Upon leaving Buckley Lake Camp the trail leads 1 km downstream along Buckley Creek before crossing a log bridge. The trail then climbs gradually towards the Edziza Plateau, passing through intermittent wet sections and sub-alpine fir and pine to eventually parallel an old lava flow originating from Eve Cone.
Sidas Cone will come into view here, the first of many volcanic cinder cones along this route. Scrub birch becomes the dominant vegetation and just as the edge of tree-line is reached you will see the first camp, known as the "Willie Williams" camp.
Drinking water can be found here as well as moderate protection from the elements. This is a guide outfitter camp; do not use or burn poles or pieces of the camp.
From "Willie Williams" camp, the route leads above tree-line and continues to do so until the Elwyn Creek valley is reached. The trail continues to follow the lava flow edge from Sidas Cone to pass by Eve Cone.
Eve Cone is famous for its dark colour, impressive size, and perfectly geometric crater rim. BC Parks requests your cooperation in keeping trail use to the one main trail up Eve Cone (if you decide you must climb to the crater rim) as other trails leading up the crater have scarred the dark coloured sides.
The main trail is located on the southeast side and leads to a small bench on the northeast side.
Water is scarce from Willie’s Camp to the Oasis and from the Oasis to Tsekone Ridge. Please ensure you fill up your water bottles prior to passing through these areas. The “Oasis” is located at GR 0311 on map 104G 15E
After passing Eve Cone, visibility becomes unlimited as you start across broad plateaus with the summit icecap of Mount Edziza above. Approximately 3.5 km from Eve Cone, the route crosses a narrow pass between Tsekone Ridge and Pillow Ridge.
The route then descends onto another vast plateau. The plateaus are covered by a thin layer of lichen, moss, and grasses until you reach branches of the Elwyn Creek. There are 2 crossings over branches of Elwyn Creek. This is an exceptional place to see Osborn caribou as visibility (unless hampered by weather) is at a premium.
From Tsekone Ridge, the route follows a series of rock cairns, which can be seen from one cairn to the next, especially with the aid of binoculars. There are several creek crossings along this route and a pair of lightweight sandals is invaluable.
Creek crossings may require some scouting to find the best route at varying times of the season, depending on water levels. Usually, the best crossing locations are marked with cairns, but caution should always be used and you may decide to wait until early morning to cross.
After crossing the northern branches of Taweh Creek, the route twists and winds its way back through spectacular volcanic landforms, passing through valleys filled with white, black and red pumice rock to arrive at a high pass – views of Cocoa and Coffee Crater should be visible.
Caution: This pass should not be undertaken in severe weather.
Caution must be exercised while choosing a route over the toe of the ancient remnants of Tencho Glacier, as it is covered in a deep layer of pumice rock and sand, which is subject to collapse as the glacier below recedes or becomes unstable. This section of the route is completely devoid of vegetation.
Next, the route descends to pass by Coffee Crater and over vast fields and bizarre lava forms. Obsidian may be found along this section of the route and visitors are reminded that it is prohibited to remove these pieces and other items from provincial parks. Please take photographs only.
Soon, the route climbs up and over a shoulder near Cartoona Peak and crosses a very flat, open expanse covered once again by ground vegetation. Another descent, marked by cairns, will cross a medium-sized creek (northern branches of Walkout Creek) to head up a narrow valley, ascending into Chakima Pass.
From this location, Kakiddi Lake is visible (depending on weather conditions). The route then descends moderately into sub-alpine fir and wildflower meadows. There are no cairns after Chakima Pass, but the route is clearly visible.
There is a guide outfitter camp approximately 1/3 of the way down the valley which has good drinking water, a fire ring, a table, a bench, and a few tent pad areas. As with the other camps, be respectful of these items.
The route continues to descend, paralleling Chakima Creek, with 3 creek crossings to arrive at the pine and aspen flats approximately 2 km from Mowdade Lake camp. The creek crossings can be difficult in high water, and hikers need to be prepared for these crossings.
For the last kilometre or so, Chakima Creek has braided and some branches of the creek follow the trail bed so soggy feet should be expected! Once you arrive at Mowdade Lake you will find tent pad areas, a dock, a fire ring, a pit toilet, and a bear-proof metal food cache available for public use.