top of page
41View W from 5040 Peak.jpeg

PEAK 5040

Contributed by Hans Roemer, Rick Avis & Ken Wong


Country: Canada
Location: Vancouver Island
Round trip: variable
Start elevation: 620m

Final Elevation: 1,536m
Maps: NTS 1:50,000 92F/03


Access from Highway 4
on Vancouver Island. See detailed description below.

03_Triple Peak from near trail head.jpeg

Check the road status before you leave. 
Marion Creek road is currently deactivated and has several water bars. It requires at least an all-wheel drive with good clearance or a 4 x 4 vehicle to access the trailhead. The Alberni Valley Outdoor Club might be able to provide current informationon the road:

From Port Alberni on Vancouver Island
Set your odometer in Port Alberni at the T-junction by the river at the foot of Johnston Road. Turn right on Highway 4 (the Pacific Rim Highway) and follow it west from Port Alberni past Sproat Lake and over Sutton Pass. The distance from Johnston Road to the Marion Creek turn off is 56 km – approximately 6km beyond the highest point on Sutton Pass. Marion Main is on the left just after a sharp bend in the road and directly opposite a “Slow” sign. Follow Marion Main for approximately 6.3 km to the Cobalt Lake trailhead. 

Trail Description
Cobalt Lake is located 800 m SSW and 400 m below the summit of 5040 Peak. The trail head is on the left side of the road just beyond a small creek and should be marked by a ribbon. The trail sets out through a clear cut before entering an old growth forest and starting to rise fairly steeply. It parallels the creek for part of the way and opens out into series of rock bluffs just below the lake. Although the trail is not marked, it is relatively easy to follow until it reaches Cobalt Lake (approximately 1.5 – 2 hours hiking time). 

From Cobalt Lake a less well developed “route” leaves the northwest corner of the lake and ascends through heather to just below the summit. Although there is no formal trail to the summit, most people approach it from the saddle on the southeast side of the mountain.

06_5040 Peak as seen from Triple Pk - Ph Craig Wagnell.jpeg
30Anemone occidentalis seed heads.jpeg

Peak 5040

This mountain derives its unimaginative name from its summit elevation of 5040 feet. Strong hikers are known to ‘do’ 5040 Peak as a day trip from their vehicle. However, the elevation difference from the trail head to the summit is more than 900 metres and it is recommended to carry camping equipment to stay one or two nights at or near Cobalt Lake. This way one can take the time to enjoy the mountain flowers and the spectacular scenery this hike offers. Cobalt Lake is located on the SW side of the mountain, just above tree line at 1,130 metres elevation. But flora highlights are distributed on all sides of the mountain and make more exploration time desirable.

Getting around on this mountain requires reasonable fitness, alpine hiking skills and experience with navigating mountainous terrain during poor visibility, as the clouds are quick to move in. There are no well established trails beyond Cobalt Lake.

Six ridges radiate out from this broad peak, the most prominent easterly one connects it all the way to the 6 km distant Nahmint Mountain. Two other ridges, one to the south-east and one to the north, are of interest to flora enthusiasts due to their limestone occurrences. The remainder of the mountain and its ridges are made up of non-calcareous volcanic and minor intrusive rocks.  

The winter snow pack on 5040 Peak is very high in most years, except in extreme El-Ninjo years. As a result, the emergence of alpine vegetation is often very late in the summer, with August and even September being the best months to see the plants in bloom.

Floral hotspots are distributed all around this mountain, not only on the special limestone geology, but also on the more common volcanic rocks. Starting on scree slopes above Cobalt Lake and along many small streams and meltwater seeps all around this peak, pink and yellow monkeyflowers (Erythranthe lewisii and E. caespitosa) are more abundant than on most other mountains. On the limestones several species occur that are otherwise not known to occur on Vancouver Island or are primarily found on limestone, such as arctic willow (Salix arctica), male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), corrupt spleenwort (Asplenium abulterinum), mountain death camas (Anticlea elegans) and American sawwort (Saussurea americana). Generally, alpine plants descend to lower elevations on the more barren east- and north-facing slopes of 5040 Peak. Eight species rare-listed for the province have so far been found around 5040 Peak, among them smooth douglasia (Douglasia laevigata), Olympic mountain aster (Eucephalus paucicapitatus), and corrupt spleenwort (Asplenium adulterinum).


Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon 2013. Alpine Plants of British Columbia, Alberta and Northwest North America. Lone Pine Publishing. 527 p.

Roemer, H., K. Wong, R. Avis and J. Holm. 2010. Alpine Flowers of Vancouver Island. Fold-out pamphlet on water-proof paper featuring colour images of 87 alpine flowers. (see also

PEAK 5040 GALLERY.       

Click the arrows to start the slideshow or click on an image to expand.

Alpine & Subalpine Plants

Achillea millefolium-- yarrow

Adiantum aleuticum-- northern maiden-hair fern

Agoseris aurantiaca-- orange agoseris

Agrostis scabra-- hair bentgrass

Anaphalis margaritacea-- pearly everlasting

Anemone multifida-- cut-leaved anemone

Anemone occidentalis-- western anemone

Anemone parviflora-- northern anemone

Antennaria alpina-- alpine pussytoes

Aquilegia formosa-- Sitka columbine

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi-- kinnikinnick

Arnica lanceolata ssp. prima-- streambank arnica

Arnica diversifolia-- diverse arnica

Arnica latifolia-- mountain arnica

Asplenium adulterinum-- corrupt spleenwort

Asplenium viride-- green spleenwort

Athyrium alpestre-- alpine lady fern

Boechera lyallii-- Lyall’s rockcress

Botrychium simplex-- least moonwort

Caltha leptosepala-- white marsh-marigold

Campanula rotundifolia-- common harebell

Carex hoodii-- Hood’s sedge

Carex kelloggii-- Kellogg’s sedge

Carex nigricans-- black alpine sedge

Carex phaeocephala-- dunhead sedge

Carex pyrenaica-- Pyrenean sedge

Carex scirpoidea-- single-spike sedge

Carex spectabilis-- showy sedge

Cassiope mertensiana-- white mountain-heather

Castilleja hispida-- harsh paintbrush

Castilleja miniata-- scarlet paintbrush

Cirsium edule-- edible thistle

Claytonia multiscapa ssp. pacifica--
Rydberg’s springbeauty

Crytogramma acrostichoides-- parsley fern

Cystopteris fragilis-- fragile fern

Diphasiastrum sitchense-- Alaska club-moss

Douglasia laevigata-- smooth douglasia

Dryopteris filix-mas-- male fern

Elliottia pyroliflora-- copperbush

Empetrum nigrum-- crowberry

Epilobium anagallidifolia-- alpine willowherb

Epilobium glaberrimum-- smooth willowherb

Erigeron glacialis-- subalpine daisy

Erysimum arenicola-- sand-dwelling wallflower

Erythranthe caespitosa-- mountain monkey-flower

Erythranthe lewisii-- pink monkey-flower

Erythronium grandiflorum-- yellow glacier lily

Eucephalus paucicapitatus-- Olympic mountain aster

Fauria crista-gallii-- deer-cabbage

Gaultheria ovatifolia-- western tea-berry

Hedysarum occidentale-- western hedysarum

Heracleum maximum-- cow-parsnip

Heuchera glabra-- smooth alumroot

Hieracium gracile-- slender hawkweed

Hippuris montana-- mountain mare's-tail

Hypericum scouleri ssp. nortoniae-- western St.John’s wort

Juncus drummondii-- Drummond’s rush

Juncus mertensianus-- Mertens’ sedge

Juniperus communis-- common juniper

Leptarrhena pyrolifolia-- leatherleaf saxifrage

Lewisia columbiana var. rupestris-- Columbia lewisia

Lomatium martindalei-- Martindale's lomatium

Lupinus nootkatensis-- Nootka lupine

Luzula multiflora-- many-flowered woodrush

Luzula spicata-- spiked woodrush

Micranthes ferruginea-- Alaska saxifrage

Micranthes nelsoniana ssp. cascadensis-- dotted saxifrage

Micranthes odontoloma-- stream saxifrage

Micranthes rufidula-- rusty-haired saxifrage

Micranthes tolmiei-- Tolmie's saxifrage

Mitella breweri-- Brewer's mitrewort

Mitella pentandra-- five-stamened mitrewort
Oxyria digyna-- mountain sorrel

Parnassia fimbriata-- fringed grass-of-Parnassus

Pedicularis ornithorhyncha-- bird's-beak lousewort

Pedicularis racemosa-- sickletop lousewort

Penstemon davidsonii var menziesii-- Davidson's penstemon

Penstemon serrulatus-- coast penstemon

Petasites frigidus var. nivalis-- sweet coltsfoot

Phleum alpinum-- alpine timothy

Phlox diffusa-- spreading phlox

Phyllodoce empetriformis-- pink mountain-heather

Poa stenantha-- narrow-flowered bluegrass

Polystichum lonchitis-- northern holly fern

Potentilla glaucophylla-- diverse-leaved cinquefoil

Ranunculus eschscholtzii-- subalpine buttercup

Ribes lacustre-- black  gooseberry

Romanzoffia sitchensis-- Sitka mistmaiden

Salix arctica-- arctic willow

Sanguisorba stipulata- Sitka burnet

Saussurea americana-- American sawwort

Saxifraga bronchialis-- spotted saxifrage

Saxifraga mertensiana-- wood saxifrage

Sedum divergens-- spreading stonecrop

Selaginella wallacei-- Wallace's selaginella

Sibbaldia procumbens-- sibbaldia

Silene douglasii-- Douglas' campion

Sorbus sitchensis-- Sitka mountain-ash

Symphyotrichum foliaceum-- leafy aster

Triantha glutinosa-- sticky asphodel

Trisetum spicatum-- spike trisetum

Vaccinium caespitosum-- dwarf blueberry

Vaccinium deliciosum-- blue-leaved huckleberry

Vaccinium membranaceum-- black huckleberry

Vaccinium uliginosum-- bog blueberry

Vahlodea atropurpurea-- mountain hairgrass

Valeriana sitchensis-- Sitka valerian

Veratrum viride-- Indian hellebore

Veronica wormskjoldii-- alpine speedwell

Viola orbiculata-- round-leaved violet

Zigadenus elegans-- mountain death camas

Plants of the Mountain Forest


Abies amabilis-- Pacific silver fir

Abies lasiocarpa-- subalpine fir

Pinus monticola-- western white pine

Pseudotsuga menziesii-- Douglas-fir

Thuja plicata-- western redcedar

Tsuga heterophylla-- western hemlock

Xanthocyparis nootkatensis-- yellow cedar


Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata-- slide alder

Gaultheria shallon-- salal

Oplopanax horridus-- devil’s club

Rubus spectabilis-- salmonberry

Sambucus racemosa-- red elderberry

Vaccinium alaskaense-- Alaska blueberry

Vaccinium ovalifolium-- oval-leaved blueberry

Vaccinium parvifolium-- red huckleberry

Herbaceous Plants

Achlys triphylla-- vanilla leaf

Athyrium filix-femina-- lady fern

Blechnum spicant-- deer fern

Clintonia uniflora-- queen’s cup

Coptis asplenifolia-- gold thread

Corallorhiza mertensiana-- Merten’s coralroot

Cornus canadensis-- bunchberry

Dryopteris expansa-- spiny wood fern

Goodyera oblongifolia-- rattlesnake plantain

Gymnocarpium dryopteris-- oak fern

Hemitomes congestum-- gnome plant

Linnaea borealis-- twinflower

Listera caurina-- oval-leaved twayblade

Listera cordata- heart-leaved twayblade
Luzula parviflora-- small-flowered woodrush

Lycopodium annotinum-- stiff clubmoss

Maianthemum dilatatum-- false lily-of-the-valley

Osmorhiza berteroi-- sweet cicely

Platanthera stricta-- slender reinorchid

Polystichum munitum-- sword fern

Prenanthes alata-- western rattlesnake-root

Rubus pedatus-- five-laeved bramble

Maianthemum racemosum-- false Solomon’s seal

Maianthemum stellatum-- star-flowered false solomon’s seal

Streptopus amplexifolius-- clasping twistedstalk

Streptopus lanceolatus-- rosy twistedstalk

Streptopus streptopoides-- dwarf twistedstalk

Tiarella trifoliata-- foam flower

Trautvetteria caroliniana-- false bugbane

Peak 5040 Alpine & Subalpine Plants
bottom of page