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Raps:11-14, max ↨150ft
20 Sep 2023
"Despite the low flow conditions, this was a magical canyon, with great views of Squamish. The canyon offered everything you could ask for and more. In
Meet Monmouth Canyon, the more flamboyent sister adjacent to Box Canyon. While Box Canyon features narrow slots lined with polished granite walls, Monmouth showcases big 200ft multi-tier drops with infiniti pools that look out to the towering granite cliffs that surround the city of Squamish. But even before the spectacular views show up, there's a 20 ft nearly vertical slide into a narrow passage that defies the voice in your head telling you that it looks...looks like it ought to be a rappel instead. Assuming you've check the water levels are safe, slide! and let the fun begin.
Even during late Summer, the water is still cold as the source is glacier melt so bring a thick wetsuit (or appropriate layers of neoprene).
**Adapted from BC Canyoneers (No longer a functioning website 8/17/19)**
A long sculpted, flowing canyon west of Squamish, BC. The canyon is somewhat diffcult to get to, requiring a crossing of the Squamish River for access. There are numerous rappels in the 35-45 meter range, some involving two stages. One of the notable features of this canyon is that a number of the rappels end in pools that are enclosed, and escape through narrow gaps into big open rappels A lot of the waterfalls are quite airy, and escapes from the canyon are plenty. The canyon is a fairly serious undertaking, requiring a fairly long day, often battling some pretty big flow!
Warning: This canyon can be jumped in a number of spots. It is up to you to determine whether the jumps are safe or not. The ability to jump into a pool without sinking too deeply is a technique that can be practiced and improved. Depth of pools can change at any time. The first person in a party can rappel into a pool and use goggles or a mask to determine the depth of the water
Getting to Monmouth canyon requires crossing the Squamish river. For small groups, consider renting a canoe at the Squamish Adventure Center. It will fit 3 people including gear. Canoes must be returned at the end of the day so be sure to know when the Adventure Center closes. Depending on the season and time of day, the mosquitos are particularly vicious near the river banks. Some may dawn on a wetsuit to prevent mosquito bites but it is advisable to change into your wetsuit at the drop-in point. The hike in is steep but on a well-maintained trail.
When you get in the proximity of the canyon, after crossing the powerlines, make sure you take the trail that goes Left. The Right branch takes to a promotory with a nice view but then dies out.
**Adapted from BC Canyoneers (No longer a functioning website 8/17/19)**
From Highway 99, approaching Squamish from the south or north, turn west at the lights at Cleveland Avenue. After 400m, turn right on Bailey Street. The road quickly becomes gravel and comes to a fork. Keep to the right – this is Government Road. Continue north on Government road for 1.6km, crossing two sets of railroad tracks and getting back onto pavement. Turn left towards Squamish River Dyke Road (signed for Estuary Access and Squamish Spit) and return to a gravel road. After 350m, turn left onto the dyke road. Right here, beside the yellow gate blocking access to the north (right) you will ῃnd a short trail leaving the road, down to the river. This is the best put-in spot when the Squamish River is flowing particularly hard. Unload canoe/kayaks/gear here. You can park in the wide area on the other side of the road. In lower flow, the river can be crossed further down.
Shuttle Vehicle An optional shuttle vehicle can be placed 1.4 km further down the road. This makes the river crossing to and from the trail much easier. There is a wide area along the roadway, on your left as you drive. It ends, and the road narrows, just where the trail comes out of the woods. Ideally, place things like dry clothing into the vehicle that carries the canoe, and leave it at the take-out spot. If no shuttle vehicle is available, plan on about 15 minutes of walking to return to the vehicle at the put-in spot.
NOTE: Crossing a fast-moving river like the Squamish is potentially very dangerous! Depending upon the discharge rate of the river and the dynamic hazards therein, there may be standing waves, snags, partially submerged logs, etc. You can check on the current, recent and historical data here: http://www.wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/graph/graph_e.html?stn=08GA022
Put in to the river here, and strike out across the river. Work your way across the river, as you head downstream. You will find that the trees you see directly across from you are actually on a long narrow island. You want to round the lower end of the island, and head upstream into a much narrower, slower moving channel on the other side. During high tides, you can head along the shoreline of the island, and through a gap between the island and a large gravel bar. (In very high tides, you may not even see the gravel bar – just a large tree stranded on it further downstream.) If the tide is lower you may need to continue around the gravel bar, past the large tree lying on it, and then back up the other side. As you head up this channel on the other side of the island, you will soon come to a small cluster of old pilings on your left, close to the tree-covered shoreline. There are a couple of tiny coves here (N49.71469 W123.17253) where you can pull in and tie your boat to the trees. Note: the river here is still tidal and can go up and down a few feet while you are in the canyon – make sure you tie up the boat so it doesn’t float away while you’re gone, or else carry it up out of the river and into a clearing in the trees! Once you’re ashore, you’ll find yourself in a small clearing with a few narrow trails spreading out into the trees. Go to the north (upstream) end of the clearing and follow the trail there away from the river. After a couple of minutes, it will angle to the left, and in a few more minutes you will hear the chatter of Monmouth Creek.
Continue following the trail steeply up the hill. (For Box Creek, the route exits the trail shortly before the steep section begins.) You will reach a couple of viewpoints that give an exciting preview of the waterfalls to come. Stay on the main trail – it will take you away from the creek for a while, then return to it as the grade eases. Note: There are ground wasps in the area. One nest is located in the middle of the trail, about 45 minutes up from the riverside. People who are sensitive to wasp stings must be vigilant on the hike in.)
Approach hike to Monmouth Creek At about 425m elevation, you will come to a spot where the trail reaches the creek again, and turns upstream, This is the normal entry point (N49.71533 W123.18801). You can enter here, or continue up the trail for five or ten minutes to the upper entry point (N49.71511 W123.19111). The upper spot gives you a little bit of pretty canyon, downclimbing, and a short jump.
The descent is descrrd log, but is not very deep. During a recent particularly low flow period, the water was only about 1.5 meters deep! Ensure a flatter or scooped landing (or cannonball) to avoid going too deeply into the water. Keep knees bentibed in great detail in the Beta Sites listed below.
**Adapted from BC Canyoneers (No longer a functioning website 8/17/19)**
Rappel 1 A pair of bolts on the right side take you down a waterfall about 9m (30 feet) to a pool below. May be diffcult in high flow. If necessary due to flow, instead go canyon left, and down a short downclimb to sling a bollard above the pool.
Rappel 2 At the far end of the pool, rappel 23m (75 feet) two bolts on the left wall. Takes you down a beautiful, wide waterfall. At the bottom of the rappel, there is an awesome little alcove behind a rock, with water curtains on each side.
Rappel 3 This is the “infinity pool” rappel. Anchored off of two bolts on the right wall. In and out of the cascade, but ends in the full flow. 42m (135 feet)
Rappel 4 Scramble down and right below a couple of big boulders, and find a pair of bolts on the lower face of a boulder looking down the channel. Follow the wide channel, and over the lip. Much of the flow can be avoided by keeping to rappeler’s right near the bottom. 30m (100 feet)
Rappel 5 This is a short rappel down a slab to an alcove below a boulder. Anchored off a single bolt on your left as you approach. Allows you to avoid a diversion into the trees and scramble down mossy logs. 14m (45 feet)
Rappel 6 Emerge from the alcove under the big boulder, and find a pair of bolts on your left side. Down the waterfall to a pool below. In very high flow, could be rapped off a slung boulder in the right side watercourse – less flow here. 24m (80 feet)
Rappel 7 At the end of the pool,find a pair of bolts on the far side of a large boulder in the watercourse,. Drop down into a pool, over a lip to a ledge, the off to rappeler’s right (canyon left) into an alcove. 14m (45 feet)
Rappel 8 Off a single bolt under a huge boulder, through a dark tunnel into a deep pool. This rappel is very cool, but can be avoided by an even more amazing jump (about 9 m or 30 feet to the pool) on the right. 12m (40 feet). Monmouth Jump
Rappel 9 Immediately after rappel 8 (or the jump), round the corner and exit the pool (carefully) at the top of the Monmouth Tube rappel. There are a couple of options here. Rap only option: As you exit the pool, there is a single bolt on the left side wall. Rap off of this anchor into the pool below. 21m (70 feet) Rap and slide option: Exit the pool, and using the bolt on the left as a safety anchor, find the bolt on the right side of the exit, on top of the ridge of rock on that side. Rig a rope to this anchor, paying out approximately 9m (30 feet). This length is approximate – rig a contingency anchor for the first rappeler, and prepare to let out more rope if required. Rappel down the wall to an alcove and drop/slide packs into the pool below. While still on rappel, sit down on the edge of the alcove, facing out, and slide down off the end of the rope, about 8m or so to the pool below.
Rappel 10 Immediately after the tube rappel, there is a jump of about 3m into a narrow, deep pool. This is quickly followed by your choice of either a long shallow slide down a slab into a pool, or a drop into a small but very deep washing-machine-type pool on the right. Continue down to where a fin divides the water course into two, and find a pair of bolts on the left side of the left channel. Again, you have a choice here: Set the rope length for 15m (50 feet) and rap down to a series of pink ledges, where you can jump into the deep pool below, or else set out 19m (65 feet) and rap all the way into the pool. From there, partner assist through a narrow gap into the
If there is too much flow to safely descend this waterfall, then instead move canyon left, and find a pool with a pinch where you can anchor to descend a groove along the left wall. With high flow, you will want to make this two stages, all the way into the diving board room. Approximately 27m (90 feet). Whichever way you descend, make sure to explore both rooms above the diving board section. The pool can be jumped from the diving boa! Those not comfortable with shallow water jumping should either climb down off the log onto the rock below before jumping, or rappel off of a meat anchor behind the log. Please do not leave a webbing anchor behind on the log.
Rappel 11 Follow down a nicely carved section of rock to a rappel on the right side. The route follows a channel on the right past a small pool, and pours down into a narrow section at a 90 degree angle to the main canyon. There is a single bolt above the pool on the right side to simplify descending to this next rappel stance in higher water. Drop into the channel that crosses the canyon, and pours o to the left. Find a pair of bolts on the right wall, and rap down to the pool below. 14m (45 feet)
EDIT (Aug 2021, Max): we set out 20m and it was just long enough to get to the pink ledge, so the original length of 15m for jump is wrong, more like 20m to jump and 24m all the way into the water.
Rappel 12 Follow the pool to a large boulder in the watercourse, and keep left. Rappel off of bolts through a waterfall into a pothole, cross it, and continue down into another pool. 14m (45 feet)
Rappel 13 After rappel 12, a downclimb through a groove leads to a very nice alcove. Follow around behind a huge boulder, in a very showery room. Swim below a wedged boulder to a landing with a large pouroff ledge. You will find a pair of bolts on the right where the water wells up and over a lip. Big water, and lands in a large pool, occasionally with fish in it! 39m (130 feet)
Rappel 14 Move to the channel on the left, and find a single bolt on the left wall. Descend a groove to a stance below a big boulder. 14m (45 feet)
Rappel 15 From here, move to canyon right, and find a large boulder with webbing slung around it. Rappel from here to the rocks and shallow pool below. (Length uncertain – approximately 20-25 meters?) Rappel 16 Some more downclimbing leads to a view down into the bottom of Box Creek, and the lower reaches of Monmouth. Undulating slabs of granite, with varied angles, scoops, pools and streams stretch down to the bottom. Some of the creek splits off to the right, joining Box Creek above the actual confluence. The downclimbing is initially easier here on canyon right, and may in fact continue all the way down to Box without requiring a rappel (though it’s unlikely). The final rappel of the main canyon is on the left, past a series of scoops and cascades, anchored o webbing in a pinch on the left side of a chockstone. The rappel goes down a narrow corridor, but it’s easy to stay out of the full flow. 12m (40 feet) to slabs which can be followed to the right, all the way to the confluence with Box, and an exit to the trail.
Upper canoe put-in: 49.719579 -123.167867
Lower canoe put-in: 49.715572 -123.167973
Take-out canoe: 49.707469 -123.170288
Trailhead landing: 49.713905 -123.173527
Trail turns uphill 49.713249 -123.181175
Keep right: 49.713478 -123.184620
Normal entry: 49.715020 -123.187978
Upper entry: 49.715059 -123.191296
Monmouth-Box confluence: 49.712734 -123.18177
There are several options to exit after the famous Keyhole rappel in case members of the group or cold, tired, or nightfall is approaching. After the Keyhole rappel, there are 3-4 more rappels before reaching the creek bottom. It can be done within 1.5 hrs with an experienced team.
If you are renting a canoe from the Squamish Adventure Center, be aware of when you need to return the canoe. If possible, arrange for returning the canoe after hours.
**Adapted from BC Canyoneers (no longer a functioning website 8/17/19)**
Note: It has come to our attention that Box Creek and Monmouth Creek, as well as the approaches to both, are in an area that is a designated cultural site of Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish First Nation).
This definitely does NOT preclude use of the area, but we wish to emphasize the importance of respectful use of the area. Please, in particular, attempt to minimize impact by using the old adage: Take nothing but photographs; Leave nothing but footprints.
Trip reports and media
- Facebook Album from August 31, 2014
- Facebook Album from July 6, 2015