In mid-July, we packed up our family and headed in to the Elk Lakes ACC hut in BC to enjoy a weekend in the backcountry. I had booked the hut in November of 2016 and managed to book the entire hut, so that we’d ensure the hut was filled with friends with toddlers as well. We started our hike from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park at the Elk Pass trailhead. We followed a portion of the TransCanada trail which travels uphill with approximately 200m elevation gain. At the top of the pass you can stop at a picnic table and have lunch before heading south along the power lines for a 200m elevation loss to the Hut. The Elk pass trail has recently been upgraded and was relatively easy to push our double chariot the entire hike into the hut. I would not recommend biking this route with a chariot. At the top of the pass, entering BC there is a fantastic totem pole style gate that you can pass through and is a great photo opportunity for your weekend adventure.
The hut is large and has all the amenities of home. There is a fire pit outside the hut, so check fire advisories if you are planning to have a camp fire. A short walk away is a flowing stream in which to get your water. Make sure to purify or boil your water and use the buckets labelled for water hauling to get the water from the creek and Drinking water for water already boiled. We hiked in on the Friday, hiked to Elk lake and upper elk lake on Saturday and then hiked out on Sunday. From the hut to Upper elk lake was easily doable for my 4-year-old and my 2-year-old walked a good portion of it.
Important things to remember!
· When you get to the hut (or any ACC hut) have an adult go in and trigger all the mouse traps, and push them out of the way of little fingers. Mouse droppings can harbor disease.
· A queen sized fitted sheet will fit perfectly over 2 of the foam mattresses in the hut and it’s way easier to deal with than having a flat sheet.
· We just brought 2 sheets, a throw blanket and one 5-degree barrel sleeping bag for 4 of us. The upstairs sleeping area was very warm.
· Don’t leave your toilet paper in the outhouse! I left a full role in the outhouse in the morning and it was all gone by early afternoon as day hikers and backpackers go right past the Hut outhouse.
· Bring some toys for the kids, we brought a couple of beach buckets, shovels and squirt guns would be a good addition.
· Bring bear spray! We followed the trail of a grizzly all the way back from the hut to the top of the pass.
· If you are lucky enough to have conservation officers staying at the parks cabin next door, you can ask them to take your dirty diaper bag! We did this on our trip and friends did it last year and they were happy to take our garbage bag of diapers!
· Make sure you lock up the cabin when you leave for the day, as day hikers are walking through and will come into the hut if it’s open.
This was a fantastic backcountry weekend with small kids. It really didn’t have any fantastic views and the hike was nothing to write home about, but we planned this trip to expose our kids to a backcountry adventure to a hut. I am glad we did the trip, but I probably wouldn’t do this one again during summer. I might do it in winter, although skiing up and down the pass pulling 100lb chariot might be a bit of an adventure. I think this was a fantastic backcountry hut trip with toddlers and look forward to our next hut adventure.