Mount Arrowsmith - Judges

Mount Arrowsmith is the tallest and most popular mountain to climb on Vancouver Island south of Strathcona Park. There are several routes up the mountain. The Judges Route is one is the most direct, but it is a steep grind up the west face of the mountain in the direct afternoon sun. Make sure to bring lots of water!

The trail starts pretty high up, at around 760 meters. There is some lovely old forest in the first part of the trail past the recent logging. Although the forest is dominated by Douglas fir forest at first, it drops out of the picture as you move up the mountain into the montane forest zone. Then the species composition changes to Western Hemlock and then to Mountain hemlock along with Yellow Cedar and Amabilis or Silver Fir. Slowly the forest becomes more stunted and gnarled giving way to alpine shrubs and wildflowers. Then you are able to see incredible rock faces, knobs and drop-offs signifying that you are approaching the top. Here the trail may become less obvious, however there are plastic ribbons hung on the trees and bushes along the trail that will help. At the top there is a helicopter platform and a communications tower and wonderful views of Georgia Straight (the Salish Sea), Port Alberni, the Alberni Inlet, as well as the mountains and lakes to the west.

The route to the trailhead off the highway is through private forest land. Logging trucks and company trucks have the right of way. Getting to the trailhead is a bit complicated, so there is a route included in the GPS track. The turnoff from highway 4 is at the top of the height of land between the Cameron Valley and the Alberni Valley. You will travel south and downward until you meet a main logging road at the bottom. Go left and follow this road uphill and along the bottom of the valley. Eventually you will leave the narrow valley and the view left will reveal a steep drop-off into the Canyon River. Stay low until you cross this river and bear right. The next major turn to the left is the road you want. Follow it up until you reach the parking spot. It is 13.2 km from the highway turn off. Unless you have a 4X4, Park at the parking waypoint and hike up the logging road. There is a recent clearcut on your left. The road is about 1.3 km long.

6 hours round trip (5.8 km)
Vehicle Access: 
2WD with high clearance
Elevation Gain: 
1050 m
Trailhead Coordinates: 
N 9°12'58.6800" W 124°36'26.6400"
GPS Map: 


UPDATE - The BC Wildfire Service has declared a ban on all Category 2 fires.  This means anything larger than a campfire (0.5 meters wide and 0.5 meters high) is presently prohibited. The forest is extra dry this spring so please be very careful!

IMPORTANT – Any of the various trails described on this website might be accessed through, or pass over, privately owned land. It is solely your responsibility as a hiker to ensure that you have the appropriate permission from the landowner before travelling on any privately owned land. When travelling on privately owned land, please be respectful and responsible, to help ensure the landowners future cooperation with hikers.  

When travelling on privately owned forestry roads, make sure to stay aware and follow all posted signs. Do not enter any areas that are marked closed for active logging, and never approach any logging equipment. Island Timberlands kindly provides information on access restrictions and other important info on their BLOG.

Whenever you venture into the wilderness it is important that you make someone aware of your travel plans, in the event that an emergency situation occurs. Always make sure that you bring with you appropriate survival equipment when venturing into the wilderness for even the shortest hikes. Be mindful of the difficulty of individual trails, and do not attempt hikes that are beyond your physically abilities or training. The volunteers, and owners, of the Valley of Trails website provide information about trails and outdoor activities in the Alberni Valley, but in no way assume responsibility or liability whatsoever in regards to your safety when venturing into the wilderness. It is your responsibility to stay safe in the Valley of Trails.