Construction on the Dragon’s Back (Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem) Trail began in 2019, opening to the public the following year in 2020. It has quickly become one of the most popular hiking trails in the Hope area.
Located on crown and District of Hope municipal land on the traditional territories of the Stz’uminus, S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), Coast Salish and Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka’pamux) First Nations, this intermediate level hiking trail is 5.8 km round trip with a cumulative elevation gain of 437 metres. The high point is 440 metres, meaning it is snow-free for most of the year. Elevation profile pictured below.
Dogs are permitted on the trail, but please be responsible to ensure they are picked up after and do not wander off the trail to disturb wildlife or the surrounding habitat.
The trail is located in Silver Creek, a neighbourhood just west of Hope proper, in the Skagit Range of the Cascade Mountains. There are no garbage cans or toilets nearby. The closest are at the nearby Esso gas stations.
The trail is officially named Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem, which means “Lookout of the Two-Headed Serpent” in Halq’eméylem. It is commonly referred to as Dragon’s Back, which was initially proposed as the hill is reminiscent of a sleeping dragon. However, after the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre conducted its archaeological assessment of the proposed trail area, it was decided that Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem is the best name to acknowledge the incredible history and significance of the trail. The area was originally traversed by Stó:lō hunters and travellers and used as a safety lookout to help guard the villages along the river dating back over 2900 years.
There is an old mountain bike trail network surrounding this trail that will soon be revitalized to create a larger area for outdoor recreationists to enjoy.
From the trailhead, follow the trail for just a few minutes and off to the right down a small path you will find a very long rope swing.
Pass this turnoff and you will find another trail sign after just a couple minutes. The trail undulates with some very steep ups and downs, broken up with a couple of nice flat sections. It is mostly a natural trail, with a few sections of stairs and bridges to aid navigation. Please ensure you do not braid the trail (do no shortcut off the established trail) as this erodes the slope.
The first viewpoint is of Hope Mountain, followed by the viewpoint over the Silver Creek neighbourhood. After that you will reach the Stone Garden.
There is only one major junction, giving you a choice to go left or right around a loop close to the top. Going left you will arrive at the West Lookout first, before arriving at the summit. Either way you go, doing the loop or an out-an-back, is approximately the same distance as the summit view is halfway around the loop. Arriving from the west, you first see a view looking east over Silver Creek and the town of Hope to the far left. A few more steps and you’re looking south down over Silver Creek towards Washington State. Many peaks viewable from here: Wells Peak, Mount Grant, Eaton Peak, Silver Peak, Isolillock Peak, and more.
The trail features seasonal waterfalls, abundant flora like old-growth Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees, giant granite boulders (likely glacial erratics left behind by the last ice age), and a tilted granite slab. Note that rock climbing is not permitted here due to the historical and cultural significance of the area.
Learn more by contacting the Hope Mountain Centre Trails Director, Kelly Pearce at email@example.com
Hope Mountain Centre is currently working with Stó:lō archaeologists and a Stó:lō artist to develop interpretive signs with indigenous historical information along the Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem trail, thanks to the Province of British Columbia’s 150 Time Immemorial Grant Program.
Annual trail maintenance is done by Hope Mountain Centre staff and volunteers thanks to a variety of funding sources such as the District of Hope, Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, Canada Summer Jobs, and private donors.
DIRECTIONS & MAPS
Exit 168 off highway 1 or travel along Flood Hope Road and turn to go south down Silver Skagit Road. Follow the gravel road (accessible by any vehicle) approximately 1.5 km until you reach another small gravel road on the right that leads you up to the very large gravel parking area. The beginning of the trail is located at the very end of the parking area in the far left corner beside the wooden kiosk.