ZOA Peak
Route: Snow-covered trail (snowshoes)

FEB
17
2019

TR #: 338

Category: British Columbia/Alberta       Summit Elev: 1,872 m / 6,142 ft

Partner: Marty and Sue Abegg

A popular snowshoe off the Coquihalla with my dad and mom.


INTRO

Three weeks previous, my mom and I had enjoyed a snowshoe to the top of The Flatiron, a rolling summit located in the Coquihalla Recreation Area just off the south side of the Coquihalla Highway. The summit ridge treated us to sweeping 360° views of the surrounding peaks. Surely some of these snowy summits would be good snowshoe destinations as well, we thought to ourselves. My mom's guidebook — Snowshoe Trails in Southwestern British Columbia — suggested that Zoa Peak just to the north across the highway would be a good choice. Zoa Peak is really just a partially forested ridge running along the north side of Falls Lake. With its network of trails, relatively moderate route, and excellent summit views, Zoa is a popular destination for hikers in the summer and backcountry skiers and snowshoers in the winter. 

So, three weeks later, we were back— this time having convinced my dad to join us too — to snowshoe to the top of Zoa Peak. (Update: Two weeks after this we came back for a third time, to snowshoe Zupjok-Llama, to get the sunny views we lacked on this Zoa Peak adventure.)

Interesting fact: The peaks in this area are named after various mountain ruminants such as Thar, Yak, Nak, Vicuna, Guanaco, Alpaca, Llama, Zupjok, Zopkios, and ZoaA zoa is the female calf of a bovine bull and a yak. 

The following page gives a short trip report for the day's adventure. 

MAP and STATS



gpx file
GPS track.
(GAIA map screenshot)
GPS track.
(Google Earth screenshot)
GPS track.
(File)


Round trip TH to Zoa summit: 11 km / 6.8 mi;  +/- 740 m / 2,400 ft
~5 hours (4 hours moving time, 1 hour stopped time)

PHOTOS

The route starts just off Exit 221 on the Coquihalla. We parked on the exit road paralleling the northwest side of the highway.
Start with a short flat snowshoe along the road between the highway and the summer trailhead.
The route is well-marked and well-traveled.
Ascending the pipeline. 
Thar Peak to the south of Zoa Ridge.
Snowshoeing through the trees. It is well-marked with flagging and reflective diamonds.
Winter is a cold time for this young buried tree and cold-butted bunny.
Snowshoeing along the open ridge.
Another party on the ridge.
This photo was taken from the false summit of Zoa Peak looking towards the actual summit of Zoa Peak. Most parties stop at the false summit, which had better views and requires less effort. But we had time, energy, and desire for completeness, so we continued on to tag the true summit of Zoa.
View from the saddle between the false summit and true summit, looking towards Thar Peak.
One benefit of going to the true summit was that we were treated to a pristine blanket of untracked snow. 
Although another cold-butted bunny had already come and gone, we were the first humans to reach the summit on this day. On the way down, we passed a few skiers coming up to the summit.
Beautiful snowflakes on my camera's LCD screen (so I took this photo with my iPhone). The way snow crystals grow depends strongly on the temperature and humidity in the clouds. This type of snowflake is called "stellar dendrite,"  named for their star-shaped appearance along with their branches and side-branches ("dendrite" means tree-like). Stellar dendrites typically appear when the weather is quite cold (5°F or -15°C) and the air has high humidity.

 To read more about snowflakes, here's a great website all about snowflakes.