Hidden Waterways in British Columbia for the Hiker

There are many hidden waterways in British Columbia which offer some of the lesser known places to cool off in the water during the summer. Here are highlights of a few of the best waterways to cool off for the avid hiker.

Vancouver Island Bay off Juan de Fuca Trail by Ikiwaner

Vancouver Island Bay off Juan de Fuca Trail by Ikiwaner

Vancouver Island

San Josef Bay

Anyplace you can only reach by boat, foot, or helicopter is always less crowded, and this is one of those spots. Nestled on the northwestern point of Vancouver Island, San Josef Bay is the part of the Cape Scott Provincial Park that will most appeal to avid hikers and others who love adventure. Only 2.5 km long, it is approximately 45 minutes each way and is fun for the whole family.

The Juan de Fuca Trail

We know, that’s not a waterway! But if you hike the Juan de Fuca trail you’ll be wandering the west coast of Vancouver Island from Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew to China Beach west of Jordan River, hitting some of the best beaches along the way. You can camp out along the way too, so pack enough for several days. This trail is a wilderness trail and many sections are not for the faint of heart.

Vancouver Area

Lynn Headwaters Regional Park by Philippe Giabbanelli

Lynn Headwaters Regional Park by Philippe Giabbanelli

Norvan Falls Trail

This 12 kilometer round trip hike is part of the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Lynn Canyon itself is a popular spot, but the Norvan Falls Trail makes its way through an old forestry area and is easily missed. You are likely to see more rusting carts and abandoned tools from the old logging days than groups of people on this trail, and it is very peaceful. After you make it across the steel suspension bridge, you know you’ve almost reached Norvan Falls.

Okanagan

BX Falls near Vernon by Andrew Enns

BX Falls near Vernon by Andrew Enns

BX Creek and Falls

This is a great day trip, whether you’re interested in enjoying the scenic natural beauty of the Vernon area, enjoy some gold rush history, or just hoping to cool off in the wilderness. This hike takes you through a wade in a waterfall pool and into the cool canyon filled with firs, ferns, cottonwoods, cedars, and birch.

Kootenay Rockies

Lake O’Hara by GeoffL

Lake O’Hara by GeoffL

Lake O’Hara

This is a reservations only spot for campers in Yoho National Park, and it’s not so easy to find. Hike in from the trailhead which is about 12 kilometers east of Field. Making a reservation at the campground is necessary as there are only 30 campsites, but the stunning natural beauty of the emerald lake and the remote trails winding through the forests are worth it. “Yoho” itself means awe and wonder in Cree, if that tells you anything.

Northern British Columbia – Yellowhead Highway 16

Ancient Forest

Ancient Forest

Ancient Forest, Fraser River, McBride

If a quiet hike next to a winding river through a thousand-year-old cedar forest sounds like a hidden gem to you, we agree, and this is a perfect spot for you. The Fraser River and the ancient forest next to it is on the route to McBride about 113 kilometers east of Prince George. There’s no fanfare here, just a sign off Highway 16 that’s easily missed that will take you to the trailhead parking area. The Ancient Forest Trail is only 2.5 kilometers long and wheelchair accessible, but with untouched growth of trees up to 16 meters around, it’s definitely worth a hike.

Nechako Reservoir, Quanchus Range, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

You might want to skip the two popular hiking areas in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the Hunlen Falls/Turner Lake Chain and the Rainbow Range Trail. Instead, check out the truly remote north half of the park, in the Quanchus Range. You can only access this portion of the park by float plane, as it is nearly surrounded by the Nechako Reservoir, ensuring that it stays hidden from most. And remember, you need to either have a professional guide or be completely self-sufficient to hack the Quanchus Range.

Queen Charlotte Islands

East Beach Trail, Haida Gwaii

The remote East Beach Trail, in Haida Gwaii is 90 kilometers long, a 4 to 6 day moderate level hike winding along the eastern shoreline of Graham Island. For the best weather, move from Tlell in the south up to Tow Hill near Masset in the north. Expect rain, wind, and the need to cross rivers—and watch out for black bears! If you need them you’ll find several shelters along the way.

Northern British Columbia – Alaska Highway 97

Muncho Lake by Kelly Donaldson

Muncho Lake by Kelly Donaldson

Mineral Licks Trail, Muncho Lake

One of the easier hikes on this list, you’ll still get stunning views, lots of wildlife, and gorgeous Muncho Lake following the Mineral Licks Trail. This short two-hour hike covers about 1.3 kilometers in a loop. Watch for animals including sheep licking the rocks and soil for the minerals in them.

Conclusion

Have we sold you on hiking some of BC’s lesser known spots yet? There are so many hidden adventures here to discover and enjoy. If you love hiking in the wilderness but hate the summer crowds, one of these great trips might be perfect for you. Watch for our next installment in the hidden gem waterways series on the best hidden spots for the wildlife enthusiast.

Go to Hidden Gem Waterways for Fishing in British Columbia for the first installment.

Published: July 14th, 2016

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Karla Lant by Karla Lant

Karla Lant is an experienced freelance writer, author, journalist and editor, and an adjunct professor. She is also an avid cook and baker and a homeschooling parent of a child who loves to run wild in the great outdoors. In her spare time she loves to create new recipes, explore new hobbies, and visit new places with her daughter.

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