OverviewThis route combines the ascent of both Byers and Bills Peaks and if you haven’t had enough after doing one peak, it’s always nice to do two! This variation of the loop approaches the peaks from the east.
ApproachThere are a few routes to get to the trailhead, but this one may be best. From Highway 40 at the shopping center near the canter of Fraser, turn south on County Road 72 for 0.2 miles. Turn right on Fraser Parkway for 0.8 miles. Turn left on County Road 73 and follow it for 7.0 miles. There are a few side tracks, but stay on the main road. Make a right and follow the road 3.0 miles to the gate and trailhead. The road has a few potholes, but is suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.
Route DescriptionFrom the gate, follow the closed road through several switchbacks for 1.6 miles to the beginning of the trail. Bikes are allowed on the closed road so you can save time by biking this first part instead of walking, if you so desire.
From the actually beginning of the Byers Peak Trail, follow the well marked trail east and slightly south to a west-east tending ridge near point 11,052. After topping the ridge, the trail more or less follows it until reaching the hard-to-see Old Byers Peak Trail at the timberline at 11,600 feet. There is supposed to be a sign at the junction, but it was gone in August 2003. For this reason, the Old Byers Peak Trail is hard to spot.
From the junction, the trail follows the north ridge of Byers Peak to the summit. There is some easy class 2 scrambling on the last part of the ridge.
From the summit of Byers Peak, follow the ridge SE and down to a saddle at about 12,050 feet. There is some class 2 scrambling along the route, and there is no marked trail, though there is a faint path of use in places. From the saddle, follow the ridge west to Bills Peak. The ridge is rather rugged and has some class 2+ scrambling.
From Bills Peak, follow the ridge north along a faint trail that is marked with cairns. Follow the ridge to point 11,829 to where you can see Lake Evelyn in a cirque below. From here, follow the trail (faded in places) along the spur ridge to the NE. After a short distance, the trail makes a sharp right (keep your eyes open!) and descends off the ridge.
The trail then descends to the Keyser Creek Cirque with Byers and Bills Peak towering above. The faded trail then follows the east bank of Keyser Creek (the topo map is in error) makes a few crossings, and reaches a marked junction. Take a left for the trail marked Byers Peak Trail. The trail is not shown accurately on the map, and it switchbacks up to the ridge and intersects the Old Byers Peak Trail. From this junction, follow the well used trail that switchbacks down to the east and down to the Old Byers Peak Trailhead. Walk down the road and back to your vehicle after 0.4 miles.
The total distance for the loop hike is 13.1 miles with 5200 feet altitude gain.