Mt. Klitsa Trail Guide (Brooke George Trail)
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- Distance: From parking lot to summit is about 6km, with 1,150m of elevation gain
- Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, steep trail the whole way to the summit. A few scrambles required on the way to the summit, with some loose rock but not too much exposure.
- Hiking Time: About 30 minutes one-way from where you park to the Trailhead. About 3-4 hours from Trailhead to the summit. A fairly lengthy day hike, but there are quite a few nice areas to camp on the Klitsa/Gibson Plateau or in the alpine if you’re looking to spend more time up there.
- How to get there: Follow Highway 4 west of Port Alberni towards Tofino. Soon after crossing the bridge over the Stamp River, turn left onto McCoy Lake Road. After a couple kms turn left onto Tyler Road and then keep left as it turns into Stirling Arm Drive. After another couple of kms a gravel road will intersect Stirling Arm Drive. Turn left onto the gravel road (Stirling Arm Main) and follow it until it crosses a bridge then immediately turn right. The logging road follows Stirling Arm and Two Rivers Arm of Sproat Lake for about 13kms before it reaches an important junction (just after a bridge). You want to turn Left at this junction onto Gracie Main. (Going straight at the junction would take you down Taylor Arm via South Taylor Main). Follow Gracie Main as it climbs up fairly steeply to Gracie Lake and then descends down into the Nahmint Valley. At the bottom of the hill (about 8km from the start of Gracie Main) you want to turn Right onto Nahmint Main. Soon you will cross a bridge over a beautiful section of the Nahmint River, and after this bridge you want to keep right to stay on Nahmint Mainline. Follow Nahmint Mainline for about 11km (you will cross another bridge over the Nahmint River after about 6km) and turn Right onto N600. Drive up N600 as it climbs the north side of the Nahmint Valley, with good views of Nahmint Mountain and French Falls across the valley to the south. Drive as far as you can up N600, then find a place to park and continue hiking up the logging road to find the trailhead, which is off a short spur on the left hand side of the road marked with ribbons (right before the last switchback in the road).
- This trail is probably best in late summer and early fall, as Klitsa gets a ton of snow each winter that doesn’t usually melt until August. The route can be taken in winter, but avalanche safety must be considered. The weather can deteriorate quickly at higher elevations. Always dress appropriately and watch the weather carefully.
- Cell service is patchy in this area (good at the summit), so make sure you leave a detailed trip report with someone in case you were to get into any trouble
- If you’re not feeling up to hiking all the way to the summit, there are many beautiful lakes on the Klitsa/Gibson plateau to explore and fishing/swimming in them is fun in the summer. (See Brigade Lake Trail Guide)
- Water is available from the lakes on the plateau, but should be filtered. Water should be carried up after the plateau, as there aren’t any sources higher up, aside from snow.
- Keep in mind that you will need a 4WD vehicle with pretty good clearance to get to the trailhead, especially on N600. Gracie Main may not be passable in winter due to big snowpacks
- A backroad mapbook is probably very helpful to help you get to the trailhead.
Mt. Klitsa is like a giant pyramid looming over Sproat Lake and is visible from a lot of areas in Port Alberni and the Alberni Valley. It is the second highest peak surrounding the Alberni Valley. Although it isn’t as high as Arrowsmith, it receives a lot more snow and remains snow-covered until much later in the summer. This is where the mountain gets its name, “Kleet-sah”, which is the aboriginal word for “always white”. Surprisingly, Klitsa’s summit receives only a fraction of the visitors that Mt. Arrowsmith gets.
The route from Nahmint has been there for years, and was recently named “The Brooke George Trail” in honour of a well-respected member of the Alberni Valley Outdoor Club. The trailhead has a beautiful wood sign that was placed there in 2008 by members of the AVOC. The route is somewhat grown-in in the early sections, but is well flagged and basically follows along the east side of a river coming down from the plateau. This early section of the trail winds upwards through some beautiful old growth, and arrives at a small lake after about 45 minutes.
When you arrive at the lake, make sure you turn right and head north along the east side of the lake (the summit can be seen due east from the lake). From here the route starts climbing into the alpine and you begin to get views of the beautiful lakes that are spotted all over the Klitsa/Gibson Plateau. As the trees thin out, the flagging becomes replaced by worn trails and rock cairns, and you can see the summit lying ahead of you due east. There are probably several different ways you could climb up to the summit, with different gulleys etc. We followed a fairly worn in path, which avoided some of the more scrambly sections and loose rock.
As you gain the summit, you are rewarded with a great view of Sproat Lake and the Alberni Valley to the east. Looking from south to west provides views of Nahmint, 5040, Adder, Steamboat, and Pogo. To the north you can see the peaks of southern Strathcona; Nine Peaks, Big Interior, Mt. Septimus and The Red Pillar/Comox Glacier. On a clear day you can even see the Golden Hinde and Elkhorn in the distance. There is an old brass canister with a summit register to sign in the Cairn at the top before heading back down.
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