Trip 041-2 Chehalis Forest Service Road Page 2

Trip 041-2 - Chehalis Forest Service Road - Page 2 of 2
June 6-7, 2011 (Monday-Tuesday)

Distance From Vancouver: 100-120 km to the beginning of the FSR either via Highway 1 East, then via Highway 11 North and 7 East. Or via Highway 7 East (Broadway, turning into Lougheed Highway in Burnaby) directly from Vancouver. The FSR itself ends shortly after the 31 km mark in a small washout and then a massive rockslide.

Liked: Natural views (especially great views of Chehalis Lake), peacefulness, fairly good gravel road with few potholes.

Of note: Chehalis FSR is suitable for 4x4 or high clearance 4x2 vehicles only, remote wilderness area, no cell phone signal, active logging area with frequent logging truck traffic. Chehalis FSR ends shortly after the 31st kilometer in a small washout followed shortly by an enormous rockslide.

December of 2011 WARNING: The Provincial Government warns of a risk of a further landslide and resulting tsunami at Chehalis Lake. Reconsider your visit to the slide (starts at km 31 of Chehalis FSR and described in this trip report) and your use of any campsites by Chehalis Lake, including Skwellepil Campground described in this trip report. More Info at BC Government FSR Conditions Site (new window) - scroll to Chehalis.

The reason I visited Chehalis Forest Service Road was to get access to the Statlu Lake trailhead. I could not get to that hike due to a huge rockslide wiping off Chehalis FSR after the 31 km mark. However, the natural views en route to the trailhead made the trip worthwhile. As you are reading the trip report, note the danger presented by logging trucks. And if you decide to visit the rockslide, be properly equipped and be extremely careful - it is a very dangerous area with high potential for serious injury. Also, if you plan on camping at Skwellepil Creek BC Forest Service Campground between km 30 and 31 of the Chehalis FSR, there are photos and a short description on page 2 of this trip report. Do note that it is not a good idea to drive a 4x2 vehicle into Skwellepil Creek Campground - you may get stuck on a hill with loose surface there on your way back.

21. We ended Page 1 when we reached Skwellepil Creek Campground. It is located between km 30 and 31 of Chehalis Forest Service Road. Here is the close up of the sign you see on Chehalis FSR at the entrance to the campground.


22. A sign at the entrance.


23. Once you turn to your right towards the campground, there is an open gate, followed by a gravel road heading down. Do not proceed, unless you have a 4x4, as the hill has loose surface further down, and a 4x2 may not be able to drive out.


24. Here is this hill looking up. It sure does not look steep, but the ground is quite loose for about 20-30 meters at some point, and it was quite obvious how hard some vehicles were working to make it up the hill.


25. On this Monday, the campground was absolutely empty. It is probably not too popular, considering how far it is, and that it takes a fairly dangerous logging road to get here. Plus, there is little to do in this area but to relax and watch the beautiful lake. Not sure about the fishing opportunities. And there did not appear to be much of a beach. There are about 20 level sites, though some of them are full of garbage. Camping is free. There did not appear to be any maintenance going on. It is a BC Forest Service site, not a provincial campground. There are no signs at all either at the beginning or along Chehalis FSR pointing to this place. Here is one of the camping spots.


26. There are three pit toilets at the campground. This one is the closest to the entrance (note the paintball marks), and it featured obscene drawings and language. Be careful, if you have children with you.


26. A site you may want to avoid.


27. Are you looking for your frying pan? It is waiting at the Skwellepil Creek Campground.


28. The sites are located in the forested area, but there is a short road to the beach area, from where the views of Chehalis Lake and the surrounding mountains are quite good.


29. A tree near the lake.


30. And here is a very pleasant view. That rockslide you see behind the greenery on the left side is where we would spend several hours tomorrow looking (in vain) to find the disappeared continuation of Chehalis FSR.


Here is our Video of the Area Above

Chehalis Lake View From Skwellepil Campground from BC Travel on Vimeo.

31. Having visited Skwellepil Creek Campground, we spent a peaceful night parked on the side of Chehalis FSR, and in the morning started walking further, in hopes of finding Statlu Lake hiking trail. Remember "deactivated due to washout" sign seen on photo #4? Here is this washout soon after km 31, which definitely prevented our van from moving forward.


32. Alright, so we walked for another 15 minutes, and ran into an enormous rockslide, which wiped out the forest service road. This rockslide happened in December of 2007, as reported by various Internet sites. We decided to cross the rockslide and find the FSR on the other side. We couldn't find it...and here is the deal. If you decide to visit the rockslide, be warned that this is a very dangerous area. I had proper footwear and trekking poles, yet went flying back first once, and fell down a few more times, leaving some skin behind in the process. If you still decide that the risk is acceptable, the following would make your rockslide trip less dangerous: pants (no shorts), long-sleeved shirt, hiking boots, trekking poles, a friend to call an ambulance in case of an accident (but no cell signal all the way to Highway 7, remember). Also, avoid the rockslide if the rocks are wet, or it is getting dark, or you are tired or intoxicated (there were a few empty beer cans among the rocks...). The biggest danger is that the rocks appear to be sturdy, and almost all of them are. But some are not, so when I stepped on a loose stone on my way down, my left foot went forward, I turned around 180 degrees, and started falling down onto the rocks back first. I had a backpack on, and was in midair long enough to say a short prayer. As a result, the landing did not cause any damage. But it could have been bad.


33. This photo does not do justice to how large the rockslide is. It took about 30 minutes to cross it.


34. While crossing the rockslide, we observed Chehalis Lake, including the Skwellepil Creek Campground "beach" (a piece of land sticking out into the lake in the upper-middle right of the photo) from where photos 28 through 30 were taken the day before.


Here is our Video of the Rockslide

MOV00393 - Rockfall from BC Travel on Vimeo.

35. So, we crossed the rockslide and found a deep forest on the other end. It figures there should have been an obvious continuation of Chehalis FSR, as there is no way for the forest to deeply cover a substantial road in just a few years. Yet, I could not find it. I then went down the rocks, hoping to find a path closer to the lake, but to no avail. You see how steep it is there.


36. At least, observed the other end of Chehalis Lake. But it's very steep in the other direction too.


It's been a very interesting two days, and thank God I came away from that rockslide alive and well. However, if all you want is to drive a beautiful forest service road, and you do not mind numerous potholes, I would recommend Squamish River FSR before Chehalis. Of course, it is on the other end of Metro Vancouver, and that could be a factor. So, if you decide to visit Chehalis FSR, watch out for logging trucks, and definitely don't go to the rockslide unless properly equipped, alert, and with a company.