Heather Mountain is located at the head (west end) of Cowichan Lake. From the Town of Lake Cowichan to the head of the lake is about 38 km (24 miles) along South Shore Road or North Shore Road. For information about gates and accessibility to Heather Mountain trails, please call TimberWest.
To reach the summit of Heather Mountain (about 1250 metres) you will be hiking up Branch R (sign posted) for most of the way. Branch R begins about 1.5 km north of Heather Campsite on the mountain side of the main road. Branch R will fork to the right off on a switch back (marked by a stump with yellow paint currently) which will take you around on the lake side of the mountain. It should take you around 40 minutes from the gate to walk up around the switchback and passed a recently logged section of forest to the lake side of the mountain. In this section on a good day you can see the top of the mountain’s secondary peak and look down upon Cowichan Lake and Heather Campsite.
About 20+ minutes more brings you to the saddle (about 820 meters) between the secondary peak and the summit where the trail is not always clear. The saddle’s lake side has a steep cliff and overlooks the lake as well. To reach the summit you must hike NW up the saddle to the summit trail. From the saddle to the summit the steep trail is marked. Time up this section is around 1 hours. A good way down is on the south side through the alders avoiding the gully. Summit views are magnificent – to the west the Nitinat valley, Hobiton Lake and Pacific Ocean; to the north Mts. Arrowsmith and Moriarty; to the east Mts. Whymper and Landalt and the Cowichan Valley.
To reach the summit is a moderate to strenuous hike of around 3 hours and around 2.5 hours on the way back. Your elevation gain from Heather Campsite is around 1000 meters. The route itself, however, is a well maintained logging road for the first half and no rock climbing experience is required. If you miss the fork to the right of Branch R you will reach a heavily forested area and you should turn around and walk back to the fork. Carry plenty of water for your hike. Cell phone reception is poor on some sections but excellent in the sections overlooking Cowichan Lake. The area is beautiful in the summer with its alpine flowers, equally beautiful in the fall colors.
In the summer the mosquitoes can be very bad, so be sure to carry a repellant.