We're planning to go to Northern BC during August and September (and maybe early October). I am hoping for some advice about which parks to visit. We like emptiness, rather than the hustle and bustle of the national parks. (We have been to Banff and Jasper a couple of times, and we will return, but it is a little too busy.)
We do a lot of day hiking -- a big day for us is 10 to 12 km, with a thousand meters of elevation gain. (That is about our maximum.) I really want to hike to a glacier in some quiet place -- I know enough not to walk on it (although we do have microspikes, a slip-on crampon) because of the risk of falling into a crevasse. DW is crazy about waterfalls. We both like silence and wildlife, and we are experienced campers and day-hikers.
So, that's the question -- what do you recommend? Thanks in advance for your advice!!
There is a website (maybe more than one) that enumerates waterfalls throughout BC (and PNW states).
I wonder about your 'Northern' criteria. Access in BC to the Rockies is rather hit-and-miss, and overall easier in the south. Glacier access is probably easier within the National Parks than else where. North of Jasper, I believe only 97 crosses them, once from Prince George to Dawson Ck, and then after Ft Nelson, on the way to Alaska.
Let me sketch out a trip from September several years ago that looped around the Southern Canadian Rockies:
- entered BC near Trail; camp at Kokanee Ck PP near Nelson. Look up Kokanee Glacier for mountain hiking near there. We've driven to the parking lot, but haven't hiked in that park.
- ferry across Kootenay lake, S to Creston; camp in cow pasture rec site near Ft Steele. OK, though I think the near by Prov. Park would have been nicer.
- Hwy 3 to Sparwood; hiked to waterfall near Elkford; I intended to drive to Elk Lakes PP, and camp near the park entrance, but decided the road was too potholed; stayed in a commerical campground near Sparwood.
- Hwy 3 into Alberta, N on 22 to Longview and 40 into P Lougheed Prov Park. Pleasant camp between the lakes. Lots of hiking options here. This is essentially the otherside of the divide from Elk Lakes.
- Hwy 40 to Canmore, and into Banff. Camp at Tunnel Mtn
- N to Lake Louise and Yoho NP; lake and waterfall walks; camp in Yoho.
- N on Icefields; camp Icefield CG, just south of the visitor center
- N to Jasper, lots of waterfalls on way; camp at Pochahantas
- W to Mt Robson; in Sept only the main campground is open. There aren't many side roads in this prov. park, but there is a good hike to the Mtn. I think all the way requires an overnight.
- SW to Wells Gray PP. Great park, lots of waterfalls; good hikes. We stayed in the park campgrounds, and didn't feel a need to seek anything more isolated.
- Night in Clearwater, after doing laundry
- S to Kamloops and Princeton. Night at Bromley Rock PP, right on highway, but otherwise to ourselves. There are Rec Sites in this area, and other PP.
- W to Hope; night at Sasquatch PP; busiest.
On other trips I've stayed at White Swan Lk and Premier Lake (good hiking from campground) in the Rockie Mtn Trench. There are several very remote, hike-in camping only prov. parks in this area. You could make several loops in the Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver, Nakusp area, visiting lakes, hot springs, and hiking.
Mt Revelstoke and Glacier NPs give access to mtns; I've only camped at small lake side prov.parks in this area.
Further west, in Cariboo, there a millions of lakes, logging roads, and resorts. A little more ambitious drive is Hwy 20 west from Williams Lake, dropping down to the coast as Bella Coola.
* This post was
edited 03/20/12 05:16pm by paulj *
The Summit Lake / Muncho area along the Alaska Highway has enough great hikes to keep you busy half the summer. I don't know of any guidebooks that describe them, though - Summit Lake has decent signage for the ones there.
Joffre Peak is the second highest peak in the Joffre group after Mount Matier. It is located northeast of Pemberton along the Duffy lake road. Most approaches traverse either the Anniversary Glacier accessed by the Cerise Creek Trail to the east, or the Matier Glacier accessed by the Joffre Lakes trail to the west. Trailheads are about a three-hour drive from Vancouver. This is an outstanding group of mountains offering multiple routes up multiple peaks, all accessible from whatever single campsite you choose. You could spend a week camping on the glacier doing a different peak every day. Nearby peaks include: Mount Matier, Mount Hartzel, Mount Spetch, Mount Howard, and Rex’s Pillar.
Alpine Select Climbs in Southwest British Columbia & Northern Washington by Kevin McLane is an outstanding book that covers details of many routes and approaches to these and other nearby mountains. Buy it! (Use the link here for info. It's not on Amazon)
Bivouac.com Joffre Peak page is another good source of information & photos.
Climbing in British Columbia The Joffre Group is also helpful.
On another trip we drove through Whistler to Pemberton, and then looped back and forth between there and the Bridge River drainage. As Gary wrote, there are multiple hiking options in this mountains. The easiest road across them is the Duffy Lake Rd.
Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park on the Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37) is also pleasant, and not so busy. There are some hiking trails in the area, but you'll need to drive s short distance from the campground to reach them.
Boya Lake Provincial Park http://suethomas.ca/BoyaLakeBC.html on the north end of the Cassiar Hwy is a wonderful campground and park. There are numerous hiking trails in the area, and old rustic backroads that also make nice walking trails. There are canoe rentals for the lake and I heartily recommend a day on the lake ... it is amazing with its white bottom. It helps to have a GPS or a good sense of direction if you take to the lake ... our last outing there we had to point a few people in the right direction to the campground; there are many islands, inlets and bays that can be confusing. Fishing isn't so good there though.
Cassiar & Alaska Highways make for a good loop if you don't wish to venture further north into Yukon.
Such phenomenal tips -- thanks!!! Sue, what kind of a lens were you using to get those shots of the bear? I am shopping for a new telephoto lens for my digital SLR and am trying to balance out cost, weight, bulk, and performance.
profdant139 I'm not sure what you mean by Northern Rockies? After Kakwa PP, the Rockies become less "rocky" and except for a few areas(Summit Lake, Muncho Lake), access becomes limited with Mt. Robson PP being the easiest northern access. Rockies after Robson take backpack trips for access.
After Sept. 1st, all parks become less busy. Many provincial parks have great day hiking and are less well known and busy as the higher profile National Parks.
Just be reminded that the fall in northern BC starts a month earlier than even Yellowstone which can be very cool in Oct. We personally have been snowed in near the Muncho Lake area in August and had to wait 4 days for aircraft to pick us up.
Why not try the south/ central provincial parks?
We have backpacked or hiked in these recommended parks:
1)Purcell Wilderness Conservancy PP
4)St. Mary's Alpine PP(small but great)
5) Goat Range PP
7)Height of the Rockies PP
8)Wells Gray PP
9) Garibaldi PP( spectacular for glaciers but can be busy)
10) Monashee PP
11) Tweedmuir PP
12) Ts'yl-Os PP
13) Babine PP- This is my favorite because it is near Smithers which we lived in for 30 years. Mountains around the Bulkley Valley have glaciers, and waterfalls and enough hiking to keep you going for months.
14) Robson PP
There are of course hundreds more PP but these parks that I've listed are fairly remote and have good hiking.
Check out the BC Parks web site for individual parks. Of course there are the old National Park stand bys, Revelstoke, Glacier(BC), Kootenay, Yoho, Banff, Jasper, Waterton.
Mrs. Crosscheck on the Kathlyn glacier, Hudson,s Bay mountain Smithers, BC
Twin Falls from trail up to Kathlyn glacier.
Looking across to the Howson range, Smithers, BC
Roche de Boule range, Hazelton, BC
Panorama Ridge looking down at Garibaldi Lake and over at Sentinal and Warren glaciers, Garibaldi PP.
Mrs. Crosscheck crossing the Babine range, Babine PP