The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is one of British Columbia’s most remote regions, and one of the most unique backpacking destinations.
A popular and easy hike to see the region is the Williams Lake River Valley Trail, which is accessible right out of downtown Williams Lake. Historic Barkerville also offers some easy walking trails, like the Gold Rush Trail.
Tweedsmuir Provincial park, four to five hours west of Williams Lake, offers the beautiful and unique Rainbow Range, an intermediate four to six hour trail featuring red, yellow, orange and lavender volcanic mountains. This park also features the Hunlen Falls/Turner Lake Chain, which has many options for multi day trail options including a 58 km return hike.
Part of the Rainbow Range. Photo courtesy of knowbc.com
The Spruce Lake protected area near Gold Bridge and Pemberton has extensive multi-use trails including Gun Creek trail (three days), High Trail (two days), Warner Pass Trail (four days), and Tyaughton Creek Trail (four days) and is another great option for intermediate hikers.
Experienced hikers can revel in many difficult hikes as well, including the four to six hour Yellowhawk Trail through alpine meadows, and the Ts’yl-os Provincial Park four to six day loop trek.
For the very advanced hikers, the Alexander Mackenzie/Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail is a three-week, 350 km outback adventure. There is a food supply drop at the halfway mark, which is essential, and the best time to hike the trail is August-September. To reach Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park (the historic location where he inscribed the words “Alex Mackenzie from Canada by land 22nd July 1793”) you must travel by boat, just as he did. This historic trail also has multiple day trips available out of Quesnel and Prince George if you are not up for the strenuous backpacking.
Alexander Mackenzie’s inscription and monument. Photo courtesy of mvdirona.com
This area is quite remote and is home to plenty of wildlife like cougars and grizzly bears, so things like proper food storage and wildlife education should be a priority. If you are concerned, there are plenty of guided hikes in the area, with rangers accustomed to the area and knowledgeable of wildlife dangers.
If you need another reason to splurge on a guided tour, some of the areas are best accessed by floatplane, or a combination of horseback riding and hiking. Heli-hiking opportunities are also available. Tyax Adventures offers multiple packages in different areas of the region, and although the cost can seem high, it is worth it in terms of your safety and the amazing sights that you would not be able to access by yourself (not to mention it is still cheaper than a week in hotels!).
No matter what your skill level or budget, the Cariboo Chilcotin area is a must-see for its rich history, culture, and beautiful landscapes.