Mt Wood to Powerline

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Length: 17.8 km, 2.5 hrs
Technical difficulty: 3/5. Very steep and loose rock climb on the backside of the powerline
Ascent: 575 m

Highlights: North side of Oliphaunt Lake, one steep rocky climb, pretty views of Saanich Inlet, Saltspring and Mt Baker

Summary: A loop going around Mt Wood, the north side of Oliphaunt Lake, touching the north east slope of Malahat ridge, and returning via the powerline. Mostly easy to ride dirt roads, but a few nasty climbs on the powerline side.

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Description: 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. I’ve heard of vehicle break ins at Spectacle Lake.

Daisy and Lupine Hills in July
Daisy and Lupine Hills in July

Cycle along Whitaker Rd past the Spectacle Lake turnoff, the community firehall where the road becomes Aikman, and to the top of the hill where there is a gate at 1.9 km. Once on the logging road, stay on the main road going north (ignore the fork at 2.0 to the left), and the small spurs at 2.3, 2.6, 2.9, 3.3 and 4.1. Do take the left fork up the hill at 4.4, and climb steadily for about 2 km.

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Again, ignore spurs at 5.3 and 5.7. the fork at 6.7 to the right goes to the top of Mt Wood, but there’s not much to see up there except a large antenna and glimpses of the ocean. At 7.1 stick to the right, and skirt around the north side of Mt Wood. At 8.9, there’s another gate. Just to the left of this is an ATV track that will take a short steep drop onto another logging road system. Continue downhill to Oliphaunt Lake.

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Instead of taking the main track to the right (west), take the small spur to the left (east) at 9.9. This can be fairly muddy and I wouldn’t recommend between November and June unless you don’t mind getting wet. The road deteriorates and basically becomes an ATV track, passing by the “Pain Bay” luxury accommodation.

Have you seen the scene from 'Deliverance'?
Have you seen the scene from ‘Deliverance’?

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Once back onto the logging road on the other side of the lake, follow the main track (which does not show as a road on the map). This goes through some fairly impressive mud puddles, and again, probably not for November to June, unless you don’t mind foot deep mud. The track deteriorates at the end at about 11.8 and then comes out onto main tracks near the powerline. Don’t go up to the right as these tracks do not connect with the powerline track. Instead, take the left and descend for a bit until the road crosses the powerline. Start the climb up the powerline. It is very steep with loose rock. I find most of this unrideable.

A pretty cool job, methinks
A pretty cool job, methinks

At 12.7 take the long way around for the view and the better condition track.

Mt Baker across Saanich Peninsula and the San Juan Islands
Mt Baker across Saanich Peninsula and the San Juan Islands
Saltspring
Saltspring

Although it may be less steep than going under the powerline, I find the steep sections unrideable due to the grade, the length of the climb, and the loose rock. It’s quite the huff even walking the bike up. Soon though, the top is reached at 13.5. It’s a simple matter then to just follow the powerline south until 16.8 where the turnoff will go around private property and end up in the parking lot of Spectacle Lake where it is a simple matter to take the road back down to your vehicle.

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