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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 Naikoon Provincial Park on 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
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.
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 14, 2016
Last Updated: May 12, 2021
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