Glacier Lilies on Mount Arrowsmith

August 3rd, 2012 | by | 3 Comments
Published in Botany, Central Vancouver Island, Destinations, Flowers, Hiking, Sub-Alpine Flowers
Tags: , , , , , ,

Mount Arrowsmith has long been on my list of Vancouver Island mountains to climb—not so much for the views from the top, but more for the extremely interesting plant communities that you hike through on the way up.

The day didn’t begin with Mount Arrowsmith as the primary destination. Originally, Sandy McRuer (Rainbird Excursions) had Mount Moriarty in mind, but the road to Labour Day Lake and the trail head was closed due to logging activity and blasting in the area. We quickly changed plans and retraced our route, turning up at the sign marking the junction to Mount Arrowsmith.

Yellow Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) Meadow

The first main meadow of Yellow Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) on the way up to the saddle below Mount Arrowsmith.

The “Saddle Route” proved to be particularly good for wildflowers, especially after the snow melt. It is one place on Mount Arrowsmith where the yellow glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) are spectacular if you time your hike right.

Yellow Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum)

The Yellow Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) cover the wet slopes along the trail heading up to the saddle. Look for the flowers just after snow melt.

As we got closer to the saddle, the trail passed through several wet, sloping meadows that were carpeted with glacier lilies and other flowers. The display was stunning, and I carefully worked my way closer to the flowers. The challenge was figuring out how to capture the extent of the meadow and the beauty of the lilies as well.

Yellow Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum)

A small patch of Yellow Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) on the saddle at the start of the trail heading up to Mount Cokely.

While the glacier lilies were the most obvious flower in bloom there were many other plants in flower as well. I’ll post some more photographs in the next couple of days. If you’re hiking the Saddle Route, make sure to stop and take some time to enjoy the lilies. Like us, you might not make it to the top of Mount Arrowsmith, but then again, taking the time to enjoy the flowers was our main objective!

Need to Know

  • The trail is relatively “easy.” The route up to the saddle between Mount Cokely and the “knuckles” of Mount Arrowsmith is well trodden and easy to follow. There are a few open bluffs that are quite interesting in terms of plants and views. Some sections are steep, and one area has a rope to provide something extra to hang onto. Beyond the saddle it gets steeper.
  • Access is via active logging roads. Keep an eye open for logging trucks and make sure to give them plenty of room. Road condition is excellent and, while a truck or vehicle with clearance and good tires is recommended, it is possible to drive to the trail head with a car.
  • Consider using a tour guide like Sandy and Rainbird Excursions if you’re not familiar with the area. Not only will you  get to the trail faster, you’ll have an entertaining day! Check out his post with directions to the starting point.


  1. niels says:

    August 3rd, 2012 at 8:30 pm (#)

    Nice flowers!

    Was wondering if the saddle was clear of snow and if its easy to get up?

  2. Dave Ingram says:

    August 4th, 2012 at 4:48 pm (#)

    Thanks Niels – the saddle is pretty much clear of snow aside from a bit of a chute near the top but that is very passable (lots of folks have kicked steps in the snow).

    I was surprised at how accessible the trail was – fairly easy hiking with a nice combination of steep and then gradual, steep and then gradual. We saw folks hiking in running shoes when we were heading down but a good pair of hikers would be recommended. Not a long hike to get to the top depending on how often you break for photography.

  3. Island Nature  :: Wildflower Meadows on Mount Arrowsmith says:

    August 4th, 2012 at 7:36 pm (#)

    […] Spreading Phlox, Sub-alpine Meadows, Subalpine Daisy, Vancouver Island, WildflowersWhile the yellow glacier lilies are truly spectacular, the route up to the saddle between Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Cokely is gorgeous as well. I was […]

Record a Comment


Related Posts

Follow Island Nature

Subscribe to Island Nature via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 127 other subscribers

Island Nature on Tumblr

  • photo from Tumblr

    Towards the Storm

    There seemed to be pockets of calm in today’s storm and late this afternoon after work I found one down at Florencia Bay. I liked the way that the clouds were shaping up over the bay and the size of the waves - a group of four surfers tried to tackle the water but it looked too rough for them and they came back in quickly. I included them with their boards in some of my first images but wasn’t quite happy with what I was getting. It was when they ran back to the water without their boards that I got the image that I was looking for.

    Fuji X-T1, converted to black and white with Silver Efex Pro 2


  • photo from Tumblr


    Had some options last night but decided that since I was already at Wickaninnish Beach I would shoot there. I initially thought of shooting the sand flats, but the tide was on its way in and the clouds were looking more promising out towards Lismer Beach. I started on the rocky island with the trees on it (left side of the image) but the angle wasn’t quite right so I moved over to a low rocky outcrop that was starting to flood with the incoming tide. That’s when the colour started to hit going from a grey and orange to a brilliant purple, blue and mauve. Got my feet a little wet, well worth it.

    Fuji X-T1, VSCO Kodak Porta 160 profile


  • photo from Tumblr

    Wickaninnish Beach Sunrise

    I had a couple of good options for August 27 - I shot Wick Beach at sunrise before going to work and then in the evening headed to Cox Bay for sunset. I like my morning image a bit better, it’s more subdued and I think it speaks to the feeling of being the first one out on the beach (a lone surfer showed up at around 6:30). I didn’t get a big blast of colour, but a combination of calm blues and salmons. Love shooting this beach at a lowish tide, lots of reflections to work with.

    I’m still working on the Cox Bay images - the colour is so surreal that it’s hard to process the images without making them look over cooked. Once those are done, I’ll see about doing a comparison post of the two shoots.

    Fuji X-T1, Fuji’s Classic Chrome camera profile


Photos of the Day from Island Nature’s Flickr Group

Member of

  • Wildlife Photography Blogs


Island Nature is a member of the Canadian Amazon Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to books on A small percentage of each sale helps support this web site and you pay no additional fees for the book!


Creative Commons License

Images and writing by Dave Ingram are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Island Nature copyright.