Three hikers who became trapped by a rapidly rising creek near Pitt Lake were well prepared, but no match for Mother Nature, say the rescuers who saved them.

Search and rescue crews rushed to the area Monday after the men, all described as experienced hikers, activated an emergency beacon – four days after setting off on a difficult journey between Squamish and Port Coquitlam.

The men were spotted in rugged terrain by a helicopter crew 18 kilometres north of Pitt Lake on Tuesday morning. They were lifted out of the area by a chopper long-line several hours later.

Coquitlam Search and Rescue says the hikers did everything right by staying where they were and using both an electronic beacon and smoke signals.

A spokesperson said the men had the best itinerary they'd ever seen, but became trapped when the water levels at a nearby creek rose rapidly.

Rain and low cloud conditions forced the cancellation of an air search on Monday.