The Crater Lake Trail is an easy afternoon hike at less than 6km return. The trail
starts at the bottom of the Prairie T-bar of Hudson Bay Mountain Resort and
carves its way through subalpine meadows until it reaches the rocky ridge
above Crater Lake.
This trail is also used to access the summit of Hudson Bay Mountain; from the
ridgeline above the lake, follow the ridgeline up and to the right.
From Smithers, drive to Hudson Bay Mountain Resort following Hudson Bay
Mountain Rd. Continue past the ski hill lodge on your right until you reach a
T-bar and small parking lot. Start walking up the T-bar line, then turn to follow
a wide trail on the left-hand side.
August 24, 2020
Hikers: Katie and Laura
We ventured up Hudson Bay Mountain on a cloudy Monday afternoon, hoping that the on-again-off-again rain would let up long enough for us to enjoy this short hike. As we pulled into the parking lot at the Prairie T-bar, a gentle shower began to fall. We decided to continue anyways, prepared with rain jackets and waterproof boots.
We began walking up the T-bar line, then cut left to join the wide trail that would take us up to the lake. Initially a service road-looking trail, the path soon narrows as it gets past some denser trees. Soon the land opens up and thick evergreens are replaced by rolling subalpine meadows filled to the brim with wildflowers. It was at about this point that the light rain shower became full-on rain.
As a Smithers local, I have hiked this trail many times over the years, and never have I seen it as wet and mucky as it was that day - thanks, I'm sure, to all the rain the Bulkley Valley has seen this summer. Where normally the trail crosses only a couple of small creeks with rocky beds, we had to cross many new flows of water pouring out from the subalpine grasses upslope.
The pouring rain and wind had our legs soaked within minutes, waterproof boots no longer helpful as the rain got in through the top. Then suddenly the cloud was gone and we got a little bit of sunshine, the strong wind now helping to dry us out. The weather continued on this way, and we got a little bit of sunshine, a lot of rain, and some hail as well. As we carried on, each high point in front of us blocked the next high point beyond it, giving the illusion of the lake being much closer. Eventually, we reached the rocky ridge above the lake, just in time for the wind to pick up, pelting us in the face with hail.
We could have carried on down the other side of the ridge to the lakeshore, which is normally quite a pleasant spot for a picnic, but decided with the weather there was no point. After snapping a few photos of the misty lake, we turned around quickly and nearly ran down the slopes back towards the car. Again there were some breaks in the rain, and the descent was overall more pleasant than the climb. It was a wonderful, wet way to spend a summer afternoon.