Wood Mountain Loop

Length: 2.5 hrs, 18.7 km
Technical difficulty: 2/5

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Directions to start:

Drive to the top of Malahat.  Just past the Shawnigan Lake Rd turnoff, take the next left with signs to Spectacle Lake.  You can park in the parking lot of Spectacle Lake, or you could continue to the left of Spectacle Lake up Aikman Rd, where you will eventually find a gate to a logging road.  However, I prefer to park right at the turnoff on the Malahat and leave my vehicle where there is plenty of traffic.

Start at junction of Malahat and Whittaker Rd.  Take the first left (Whittaker Rd), and continue past Spectacle Lake turnoff.  At the fire station, take left onto Aikman Rd and continue to the end of the pavement where you will cross a gate at 1.9 km:

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The first part will travel along old logging access roads with minor elevation change, and generally easy riding.  The landscape is mostly second growth and 5-10 year old clearcut.  There are a few minor spurs off the main road, but they are obviously not where you want to go.  Most will end in small clearcuts.  At 4.3 km from the start, take a left to start a long steady climb:

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This will climb about 2 km steadily.  At 5.3, stick to the right, and at 5.56 stick to the left (big pile of boulders blocking the road to the right, why would you go up that way?  It just ends in a clearcut up the hill.  Maybe you could bushwhack your way through to Mt Wood summit, but why bother?).  The last part of the hill is quite steep.  At 6.7, take the right if you’re feeling good and want to make a trip up to the summit, a further 1 km and another 50 m elevation gain to the highest point.  There is a 911 repeater station at the top, some glimpses of the Gulf Islands, and a bit of the Straight of Juan de Fuca towards the Olympic peninsula.

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Don’t bother going past the repeater station / summit.  Although the road looks nice, again it ends in a clearcut without any substantial view.  Back down the hill to the turnoff you just took, now at 8.7, keep going to a 4 way intersection at 9.2.  Hard left goes nowhere, small left goes down towards Shawnigan Lake, and right will take you around Mt Wood.

The hard left road going nowhere
The hard left road going nowhere

At 11 you will reach another gate.  Just to the left of the gate are a few ATV / dirt bike tracks that you need to take.

Take the left immediately before the gate and you will find another track
Take the left immediately before the gate and you will find another track

The track is a bit rough and steep downhill.  There is a small stream to cross as well as a large pile of rocks before you get a glimpse of Oliphaunt Lake from above:

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At 11.5, head right, which is down the hill towards the lake.  Admittedly, the lake doesn’t look quite as nice up close

Oliphaunt Lake from North end
Oliphaunt Lake from North end

 

Another right at 12.0 and another creek to cross at 12.2

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At the south end at 13.5, near the dam, there is a nice dock that somebody was kind enough to construct and leave behind.  It’s a great place to go swimming in the summer!

Swimming dock
Swimming dock

After leaving the lake, make a left at 13.8, and then a quick right over a ditch.  At 14.7, if you’re tired, you can take the trail on your right flagged with orange tape back to Spectacle Lake.  Watch out for animals crossing.

Sometimes pedestrians crossing can be slow
Sometimes pedestrians crossing can be slow

 

At 15.8 take the right fork towards Mount Jeffrey and you will soon hit the powerline where you will take the right (head south) at 16.1.  At 16.8, take either the right or the left down the hill until you come to a clearing where multiple tracks converge.  Continue down the powerline at 17.3 and avoid the temptation to drop straight down through the powerline onto Whittaker Rd which is now visible right in front of you.  This will go through private property.  The track naturally turns to the right back into the forest and makes a crossing of Spectacle Creek (you will get wet if the water is very high),

Dry in summer, raging after heavy rains
Dry in summer, raging after heavy rains

Then, from parking lot of Spectacle Lake, back to whereever you decided to park your car.

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