My Top Eleven BC Trips (Part Two)

Picking up from Part One yesterday – here are destinations 6-11 in my Top Eleven BC Trips for summer.

Old power generating station in the historic ghost town of Sandon.

Slocan Valley: From where you leave Highway 3 before Nelson to Revelstoke, the Number 6 winds through the valley and the communities of Slocan City, New Denver, Silverton, Crescent Valley, Slocan Park, Passmore, Vallican, Winlaw, Appledale, Perry Siding, Lemon Creek, Rosebury, and Hills. Some of these are towns, some of them are not. Side trips along the way allow for poking around in the ghost town of Sandon (among others – but Sandon has a lot of historical significance as the first electrified town in North America, plus a lot of buildings are still there), visits to hot springs, and lots of great camping along river and lakesides. If you’ve never done any of the Kootenays, I would recommend taking a couple of days (or more) and exploring this area – the Arrow Lakes and mountains around are gorgeous, and there are plenty of forest service roads in the area to access the back country. Beautiful area and friendly communities!
Tags: Road trip, backcountry, hot springs, historic sites, hiking, swimming

Looking up the Salmon Inlet from our campsite, evening storm setting in.

The Sechelt Inlet: I lived up on the Sunshine Coast for a few years, and while I was there I made three trips on the Sechelt Inlet. One five-day canoe trip, one day-long kayaking trip, and one three day trip to Storm Bay. While the inlet trips are not only beautiful, but easily accessible from Vancouver, I should mention that this is a *working* inlet with fish farms, fishing, logging, and salvage activity – so this is not exactly an untouched paradise. On the other hand, the marine park at Tzoonie Narrows is nothing short of magical (across from an old homestead and not far past Storm Bay), and the paddling is relatively easy because it is an inland waterway. The marine park campgrounds are spaced out around the inlet, so you can choose a short overnight or a multiday trip. Canoe and kayak rentals are readily available in the area, and the amount of activity on the inlet means that you are never far from help (as I discovered when the motorboat we took to Storm Bay broke down in the middle of the Inlet on our way back). Great fishing in the sheltered bays. Incredible phospheresence up here in the summer. See my canoe trip photos on flickr.
Tags: Camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, shellfish gathering, wildlife viewing

Near Payzant Creek entrance the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Beautiful, but it can be foggy like this even in mid-summer.

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail: If you have thought about doing the West Coast Trail but you missed booking on time (or don’t want to pay the big fee), I would highly recommend that you do its conjoining sister the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Not as famous, but just as challenging, the JFMT connects Jordan River and Port Renfrew and wends across Mystic, Bear, China, Sombrio and Botanical Beaches. This is a fairly challenging trail, but well-maintained and the campsites are mostly in the beach areas which means campfires (at least most of the time). This is a very wet trail, with mudholes and so forth – it’s the west coast of the island too so it can be foggy anytime of year – so pick a dry time to do it. We did it in a really dry August and the mudholes were still pretty mucky! The scenery is incredible with much bluff and beach hiking along the way. Nearly 50 kilometres from start to finish – good waterproof gear is necessary if you are to enjoy the trip.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping

Nicomen Lake Trail: Also nearly 50 kilometres from start to finish, this trail starts at the Manning Park lookout, and winds down to Nicomen Lake in the sub-alpine terrain of the park. You can actually take this hike all the way down to the highway (if you have cars on both ends), but I have only ever done a hike-in/out so I don’t know how the trail continues after Nicomen Lake. What’s great about this backpacking trip is that you get all the benefit of the sub-alpine without actually having to hike into it (a bit like Cathedral Lakes) since you drive to a very high point before setting out. This is one of the reasons why the hike is marked as “moderate” – and it has no technical challenges – but there is still quite a lot of elevation change on the trip. Sadly, the last time I did this trip I was still recovering from a broken ankle (see Juan de Fuca Marine Trail above) and I really struggled with physical pain and swelling. Despite that, I was capable of making it the whole way in and back over four days and Nicomen Lake is a mountain jewel not to be missed. By August the lake is swimmable, and wilderness campsites are mostly lakeside. This trail can get pretty busy on weekends, so if you have the option I would recommend a Monday-Friday trip – otherwise bring good hiking poles! You will want them for the descent to the lake.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping

Old post office at Ocean Falls still in operation for the town’s forty residents.

Bella Coola to Port Hardy by boat (24 hour version): If you are not into hiking I have the circle tour for you! The drive is long, and the ferries aren’t cheap – but this trip takes you through many of BC’s climactic and geographical areas, ending with a trip to an almost-ghost town and an overnight sleep on the deck of a BC Ferry. I mean that’s BC! The Bella Coola trip out of Vancouver takes you along the #1 into the interior and then north and back out to the west coast on the 97 – in a minimum time of 15 hours of some mostly easy driving (until you get to the “Freedom Highway” which is also known as “The Hill” – a road built by locals in the 1950s when the government refused to build a land connection). I would suggest this trip takes two days and a good halfway point is either 100 mile hour or Williams Lake. There is lots of great hiking and wildlife viewing in Bella Coola – so it’s definitely worth checking out for a couple of days – and then the ferry ride home begins! Seriously, you have to reserve your spot on the ferry, and make sure you take the 24 hour route because otherwise you are totally missing the point of treating BC Ferries like your very own cruise ship. When you get on the ferry, you must go upstairs to the plexi-glass covered deck and immediately put your sleeping things down where you want to sleep. If you wait too long, you won’t get sleeping space on the deck and you will be forced to sleep in one of the barcolounger chairs inside. If you are really adventurous, the crew will let you pitch your tent on an outside deck later on. The 24-version of this trip leaves Bella Coola Harbour under the towering presence of mountains and glaciers, and meanders through the fjords to the communities of Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and later, Shearwater. In Ocean Falls, there is a three-hour stopover where you can explore the almost-ghost-town that still has about forty people living in it. Creepy and amazing, there are old logging roads and trails to explore – and also a “museum” operating out of the old grocery co-op if you want to see some of the town’s refuse in a dark warehouse (I did, and it was worth it in an odd sort of way). Once you get back on the ferry (don’t miss it! they don’t come that often), they have a salmon bbq and they sell beer, and it’s a bit of a party. As the ferry leaves Shearwater, the sun will be setting and about the time you bed down, the boat hits open ocean in its crossing to Port Hardy.
Tags: Ferry, road trip, historic sites, hiking, wildlife viewing

Cathedral Mountain in Yoho National Park, evening light.

Yoho National Park: While I find the whole national park thing to be a bit expensive (you have to pay to have your vehicle in the park, plus camping fees which ends up being double what you would pay to camp in a provincial park) – it wouldn’t be a BC Top Ten without including at least some of the Rockies. Yoho National Park and surrounding environs are definitely worth the drive out from the coast (about ten hours from Vancouver on a good traffic day). Campsites are well-serviced, federal parks staff are excellent, hiking trails are well-kept and of course Yoho is home to not only historic sites (such as the Twin Falls Chalet, accessed via an 8 km hike one way), but some truly impressive peaks and waterfalls. Our recommended camping destination is the Takakkaw Falls, which requires walking your gear in (about half a kilometre and the park supplies carts), but affords incredible views of the falls and as close to drive-in camping you can get without the RVs and generators. There is lots to do in the area, depending on your interests – but we mostly stuck to hiking in Yoho and also at Kicking Horse down near Golden. This trip was my first real Rockies adventure (other than driving through) and it has whetted my appetite for more in the future. Highly recommended as a family camping trip.
Tags: Backpacking, hiking, camping, road trip, wildlife viewing, historic sites

I hope if you live here, these suggestions inspire you to check out more of the province, and if you don’t live here you can consider them insider tips from a local. Even though I grew up in BC, I never get tired of the wild spaces and history that make up our province – and I believe that to keep much of our home out of the hands of destructive developers (aka run of the river power projects, enbridge and the like) we need to lay claim to our home by occupying it both figuratively and literally. Please join me in getting to know this great home, and please let me know what your favourite BC Trips are so I can add them to my own list of “next-to-explore”.

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