We hike into Hanging Valley year round. The route starts in Lac du Bois Provincial Park right at Lac du Bois. We follow the gated (Nature Conservancy) double track along the north side of the lake as it goes through a pass between Wheeler Mountain and Opax Mountain.
After 1.3 km, the track emerges into Hanging Valley which was homesteaded over 100 years ago, and has been maintained as grazing land since. The double track follows the valley southwest, through fir and aspen stands.
Deadfall now blocks some of the double tracks in the forested area of Hanging Valley. Both gates and fallen trees have kept the vehicles out of the area, although snowmobiles and mountain bikes still can get around some of the barriers. We are much more likely to see hikers and snowshoers today.
In the second open area in Hanging Valley (at N50 47.284 W120 29.057), a hard-to-see double track goes up a ridge onto the lower slopes of Wheeler Mountain, allowing a loop route back to Lac du Bois.
The section on the lower slopes of Wheeler Mountain is forested, but as we complete the east-bearing section of the trail, we emerge into the grasslands again south of Lac du Bois.
The loop is 9.5km. Most of the route is on old double tracks and the only climb is a 1 km section up a ridge from Hanging Valley to the slopes of Wheeler. This loop would make a good snowshoe route in mid-winter.
In late spring/early summer the grasslands are still green and the ponds are still full, with cloudy skies reflecting on the surface. We will return later in the year to witness the fall colors in the upper grasslands.