Having now hiked the Lost Lake area three times, I was really keen to check out the trails further west, particularly “Lookout Loop” and “Enchanted Forest”. Armed with an old Ministry of Forests “Forest Recreation” map and the more recent coloured map, I headed out with my daughter and her dog on a lovely crisp fall day. We passed the Lost Lake parking lot, and the Riley Lake parking turn-off shortly after, and using the Ministry map (the coloured map has a logo right over the relevant section) we found the turn-off to the Elmer Lake parking lot, as marked on both maps. However, though marked as an almost straight north logging road, this quickly became a network of logging roads, with no signage anywhere. The northerly route eventually turned into a narrow, unmaintained quagmire, unnavigable if we hadn’t been in my daughter’s Honda Ridgeline. Obviously, this access route would be impossible for club members. We tried a few more logging roads that quickly opened out into recent clear-cuts with signs of active logging. Most regretfully, we turned around and headed back into more familiar territory.
We turned off at the sign to the Riley Lake parking lot, a bit further west of the more popular Lost Lake parking lot. Finally on foot, we headed up the Riley Lake trail. We soon came to a map which outlined the very area that we had been trying to access, now off-limits as active road construction and logging is presently underway there. So that explained the lack of any signage. To avoid the logging, the northern stretch of Riley Lake trail is being redeveloped, it is wide and with a good dirt base, easy walking. Eventually as Riley Lake trail turned west then SW, it became a narrow trail off the developed pathway, (not signed, used our compass and common sense). We followed the narrower trail to Pepper Spray (signed) to a T-junction with Cheshire Cat. Here the signage was very confusing. The right hand branch was signed “Out” but this would lead, eventually, to the very parking lot we had tried to find earlier, and would be in the closed area. Ignoring the “Out” sign, we went SE on Cheshire Cat, which came down to a clearing off the main road. We decided to follow Cheshire Cat back north, then took Oggies right back to our truck. Altogether about 2.5 hrs without a rest stop, easy to moderate hiking through beautiful woods. The short drive to the Riley Lake parking lot is a little rough, I think the Trimac trail links the Riley Lake trail to the Lost Lake parking lot, which would be more convenient. Definitely another hike to do in the beautiful Snowden Forest.