5040 Peak is hands down one of the greatest lesser trafficked hikes on Vancouver Island. It’s named after its elevation, towering above the Pacific Ocean at 1,324m or 5040 feet. The short and steep trail rewards you greatly with insane 360° views of the mountains, Cobalt lake and even a little bit of the ocean. There is an Alpine hut below the summit as this is a popular location for winter sport enthusiasts. Although Cobalt lake and the views are unbeatable, the best part for me was the view from the outhouse. We hiked 5040 in June when the snow was still knee deep, but in dry summer conditions the journey should only take between 2-4 hours.
Remember the Backcountry Basics
- Carry your Survival Kit & Essentials
- Let someone know where you’re going with a Trip Plan
- Know how to avoid negative wildlife encounters
- Practice Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness pristine
- Carry a Satellite Communicator like SPOT X
|Time (Round Trip)||3-5 Hours|
How To Get There
From the Pacific Rim Highway exit onto the Marion Main FSR. The Trailhead for 5040 is about 9.6km up. The FSR is in fairly good shape and most vehicles should have no problem driving to the trailhead. The safe bet would be to choose a 4×4 or 2wd vehicle with moderate clearance. At around 9.6km mark you will see a wooden sign and trail information to your left. Park near the trailhead or 50 meters down from it on the left side of the logging road.
You’ll already be smiling when you step out of your vehicle because the views on the logging road are pretty phenomenal, especially when there is still lots of snow. The trail is well walked and easy to follow and begins following the “5040” wooden sign pointing into the trees.
The first 2km of the hike to Cobalt lake is very steep and is going to get you sweating quick. There isn’t much to see on this first portion as you are tucked deep into the trees, following closely to the lake runoff. Once you tackle this first 540m of elevation gain, the hard work is done and you will be awestruck when you see Cobalt Lake. Cobalt lake is a good spot to stop for a snack, replenish water, and many people even camp down at the lake in the summer months. On a hot day it’s going to be hard to resist a swim, but fight the urge and wait for a swim on the way down, it will always feel more rewarding. When we were hiking in mid-June we hit ankle deep snow at approx. kilometre 1 up the initial ascent and it continued to get deeper as we approached the lake. The snowpack slowed us down significantly as the slushy stuff was sliding beneath our feet, making every step twice as hard.
Once you’re ready for the next portion of the ascent head left around the lake and follow the trail markers towards the alpine hut. From the lake the hut is a quick 162m elevation gain over 500m distance and should not take you long at all. This is where the views really start to turn on. Make sure to take a look inside the Alpine Hut, it’s absolutely gorgeous and can be rented in the winter. However, most importantly, go take a seat in that outhouse. The outhouse on 5040 is heated using solar power and has one of the craziest landscape views I have ever seen. The outhouse was so magnificent that I was trying to convince Laura that we should camp overnight in it. She had to drag me out of there.
After my long stay in the outhouse we had to assess risk. The snowpack was very deep but the conditions were solid and we decided we would summit 5040 quickly before it was exposed to too much hot sunshine.
Since the mountain was snow covered I cannot perfectly recall the exact way we approached the summit, but I was careful to ensure we were avoiding obvious terrain traps and convex slopes. It gets very steep near the top and was quite challenging with the ice/snow. This final portion to the summit was unbelievable. It’s about 1km and 200 meters elevation gain but you won’t even feel it because the views were so incredible. At this point in the hike I hard a permanent smile, so much so, my face was getting sore. Every meter higher you push, the views get even more spectacular.
The final views from the summit were out of this world. I had no idea that Vancouver Island had such beautiful mountain ranges. We stood awestruck by the beauty of triple peak and the surrounding mountains, then quickly headed down due to the warming sun. If it’s a dry summer day, spend lots of time up there and take it all in, you truly feel like you are on top of the world.
The way down was much faster since we were able to ski down on our boots. Yeeehaw!! We didn’t stop on the way down as our feet were soaking wet and going numb from the frigid snow. We were thrilled when we made it back to the soil 1km before the trailhead and were able to get some solid footing for a short while. The total trip took us around 4hours due to the wet snowy ground condition. We will absolutely be back to hike this thing when the snow has melted so we can experience some different views.
Unless you have some winter hiking experience and avalanche safety gear/training I would save this one for when the snow has almost completely melted in mid July-Oct. Also, check the weather because a clear day for this one makes a world of a difference.
Winter or Summer this hike is an absolute gem!
Anyone know of a better outhouse?
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.