It's been a bleak winter for Vancouver dog owners. At least those of us who haven't been able to head up for the frequent snowshoes that make the most of a drizzly city. The snow came, and for the first time in years, it stayed... and it stayed, and it stayed. And then the ice came.
Lucy and I made the most of it, slipping and sliding to the closest dog-park, but there were a lot of boring days and stints at doggy daycare.
When the snow started to melt, I decided to shake off the cobwebs and bring Lucy to a local hike I hadn't done in years - Sasamat Lake.
Located in Belcarra Regional Park near Port Moody, Sasamat is best known for the boisterous White Pine Beach in summer. In winter, it's a quiet escape close to the city.
After driving for about half an hour, we pulled into the parking lot near White Pine Beach. The trail was immediately treacherous, as the steps leading down from the lot were covered in ice and incredibly slippery. By this point I was committed though, so Lucy and I carried on.
Normally you'd descend to the concession and beach area, but dogs aren't allowed on any of the beaches at Sasamat. That means the first 15 minutes of the hike are along the road, following pleasant but stern signs about just where you can take your dog.
Finally, the trail enters the forest and heads down towards the lake. It's a loop, so can be followed in either direction, but we headed counterclockwise.
The trail is relatively flat, with some hilly bits and some wooden walkways and stairs. For most of the time, you can see lake through the trees, whether you're right at the shore or further up into the forest.
At the far end of the lake, you'll run into Sasamat Outdoor Centre. It's a pleasant community spot with cabins and canoes, popular for retreats, but for hikers it means moving away from the water and looping around the facility. When I went, this path was solid ice, and there were times I had to drop Lucy's leash to keep from falling.
After the facility, you head back through the forest and back to the loop, where you'll experience similar views to before.
At the south end of the lake the trail continues across a floating bridge. When I went in January 2017, this bridge was closed off at both sides due to weather damage from the snow. (I ran into a couple on the far side who'd braved the trespass and wished they hadn't, apparently the bridge is essentially in pieces on the south-east side). With the bridge closed but my stubbornness to complete the loop at play, we hooked up to Bedwell Bay Road. The road is fairly busy and without much of a shoulder, so we hugged the side and I kept Lucy in close. After 15 minutes we saw the road we'd taken into the park (White Pine Beach Road) and hooked left. Immediately after we turned, a small trail reappeared and we could get back to the water.
The serene icy lake views continued until we made it back to the parking lot, about 2 hours after we'd started hiking.
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 8 KM
Elevation gain: Minimal
Driving time from Vancouver: 45 minutes
Worth-It Factor: 8/10