Distance: 9.5 km
Elevation gain 100 mView mapDownload GPS track
With a snowstorm enveloping the Spray Lakes road area we decided to try a snowshoe along Highway 40 instead. Evan Thomas Creek is what we settled on, and while the snow pack was nearly non-existent, there were three ice climbs dropping from the cliffs along the creek that provided a change of scenery from the usual mounds of snow. Openings in the creek had also led to some spectacular miniature ice formations which added to the novelty of the trip.
The trail starts at the Evan Thomas parking lot and for the first 2 km is road-width and completely viewless and uninspiring. (UPDATE: This road is sometimes groomed for skiing. If it is groomed, either stick to the ungroomed section on the side or snowshoe the short distance along highway 40 and begin your hike up the creek there). When the trail branches into three forks, take the one on the right and descend towards the creek. Upon reaching the creek, simply turn east and head up the creek. If it's sufficiently frozen, walking up the creek would be the best route, but today the creek was open in many spots and necessitated many detours into the forest. With nearly no snow in the forest our snowshoes were a hindrance and must have looked absurd to the passing ice climbers, but they did make walking much easier on the sections of creek we followed.
After walking 3.2 km from the parking lot, reach Chantilly Falls, the first ice climb. I know nothing of ice climbing, but apparently this is a good beginners climb as it is solid and lacks any dangling ice formations. Continuing up the creek, reach Moonlight Falls at 4 km. Watch for it on the right (south) as you walk up the creek. This ice climb is far more spectacular and actually has two separate routes, both of which were being climbed today. Continuing up the creek, soon come to sharp bend. The third ice climb - quite small and unused today - is glimpsed through the trees on the right at 4.6 km. Ahead 100 m the creek narrows to a canyon and is the logical end of the trail. While it is possible to continue further by detouring and ascending steeply through forest, the minimal snowpack today made this impractical for us.
As always, the photos are best viewed full screen, especially the ice formation ones here. Use the slideshow button.