Mt Horne Trail Guide by Lonny Barr
- Distance: From parking lot to summit is about 4km, with 750m of elevation gain.
- Difficulty: Moderate. The early parts of the trail are fairly steep through the forests, and there are a few sections of easy scrambles higher up close to the summit.
- Hiking Time: About 2 hours one-way from Cathedral Grove parking lot to the summit. Makes a great day hike.
- How to get there: Fairly easy, just park at Cathedral Grove, which is along Highway 4 between Parksville and Port Alberni, just west of Cameron Lake.
- This trail is at relatively low elevation and is good all year long. In the winter, steeper parts of the trail through the forest may be a bit slippery when wet.
- The trail is fairly well worn, and also flagged so there is little risk of getting lost.
- There is the option to make this into a loop, but I have always returned via the same route as the loop route is less clearly marked.
- Pack your own water as there is limited access to creeks on this trail
- Cathedral Grove parking lot can be an absolute gongshow in the summer (tourist season).
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The summit of Mt. Horne provides a nice vantage point, looking down the length of Cameron Lake as well as over the Alberni Valley and the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.
The trail starts by following Chalet Road, which is the road that leads to the cabins along Cameron Lakeís northeast shores. This dirt road branches off from highway 4 about 100m east of Cathedral Grove, and is gated by a low yellow gate. Follow the road until you reach the cabins, and after the second cabin look for flagging on your left (next to a big chainsawed blowdown) which marks the beginning of the trail. This trail climbs steeply up through the forest to reach the railroad tracks.
Once you reach the train tracks, turn right (east) and walk down the tracks a short ways before turning left up the mountain again. Watch for a few arbutus trees, some flagging, and a big blue rope hanging down a hill to mark this trail entrance. This part of the trail is also quite steep, make sure to watch your footing on the way down. The forested slopes of this mountainside are quite nice, with firs and cedars mixed in with many arbutus due to its southern exposure. After a while the trail starts to level out as you reach the ridge that connects Mt. Horne to Mt. Wesley. Here there is an important fork in the trail, where you want to go left. Going right would take you up Mt. Wesley and onto the Wesley Ridge.
After the fork, the trail gets a bit steep again and soon leads up to a gravel road. As you reach the gravel road, you get your first nice view of Mt. Horne straight ahead. Turn left and ascend the gravel road for about 1.5kms. Along the road there are a few nice views looking down at Cameron Lake and Wesley Ridge. The trail branches off the gravel road on your right, watch for flagging at a spot where the road levels out and is slightly wider.
This part of the trail is not as well worn as the lower portion, but is well flagged the whole way up. There are a few sections of rock bluffs to climb, which are an easy scramble but be careful in icy/snowy conditions. The tops of these bluffs provide some nice viewpoints looking south. The last big bluff brings you right to the summit at 910m, which has a big rock cairn containing a registry.
From the top, you can look down across Wesley Ridge and Cameron Lake to the east, and have a nice view of Cokley/Arrowsmith and the Cameron River Valley to the south. Looking west across the Alberni Valley you can see Sproat Lake, Great Central Lake, and many good peaks in the distance from Nahmint to Mt. Septimus. The view to the north isnít as good due to some trees, but looks down at Horne Lake and the Straight of Georgia.