Bridge Lake Ice Caves in British Columbia’s Cariboo: A Cool Place to Visit on a Hot Day
On a recent trip to Bridge Lake Provincial Park (read our blog), we took a day trip to a nearby destination we had read about that seemed too good to be true on a sweltering Cariboo day – the Bridge Lake Ice Caves.
Now, if you are picturing ice caves in the traditional sense, a glistening and icy blue arch, you will be disappointed. But the Bridge Lake Ice Caves have an even more interesting heritage. A Recreation Sites and Trails BC location in partnership with numerous local organizations, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves highlight a unique geological feature of the Bridge Lake shoreline. The annual freeze/thaw process, coupled with ongoing erosion, has created a shoreline full of crevices into which the annual snowfall melts and refreezes into ice. In the bottom of these caves and crevices, the ice remains cold and persists well into the summer, if not year round.
When we visited in mid August, it was plenty hot walking the trails around the rec site, but when we descended towards the ice caves the air became cooler and cooler the further we descended. Several of the crevices we looked in contained nothing more than moist rock walls and cool temperatures, but in two areas in particular we were able to find actual ice.
According to the interpretive signage and the Recreations Sites and Trails BC website, local historians and storytellers have shared that the ice caves were used by both local First Nations and early European settlers to harvest ice to preserve food and to keep cool.
While the ice caves themselves are cool (both literally and figuratively!), the government of BC and local community organizations have done an excellent job of developing a family-friendly rec site in the heart of the Cariboo. The site has several trails named after local wildlife. On our trip we walked the Low Mobility Wolf Trail, the Beaver Trail, the Coyote Trail, and the Owl Trail. The trails are marked with totems, and represent the animal on whose trail you are travelling.
The low mobility Wolf Trail is a 0.5 kilometre, hard packed, low-grade, gravel nature trail leading from the parking lot to two viewing platforms (one of which is wheelchair accessible) overlooking the ice caves and Bridge Lake. Along the trail there are several outdoor workout facilities, including a balance beam to hop over, a push up/pull up station, and a zig-zag balance walk. At the end of the Wolf Trail there is a serious flight of stairs to run up and down for those looking for more cardio. The workout stations along the Wolf Trail are called Otter, Raven, Loon, and Eagle and each is marked with a totem.
From the end of the Wolf Trail we descended the stairs to the Beaver Trail. The Beaver Trail hugs the lakeshore and is a much rougher trail than the Wolf Trail. Next, we headed up the Coyote Trail, which was very steep and rough. This brought us to the ice caves area where we enjoyed the view and explored. To head back to the parking lot, we took the Owl Trail, which was again wide, flat, and hard packed. Along the trail there were excellent viewpoints of Bridge Lake and plenty of benches to take a break if needed.
When I first heard about the ice caves, the picture that popped into my head turned out to be completely inaccurate to what we experienced. In reality, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves recreation site provides an excellent series of walking and hiking trails. There are beautiful views over Bridge Lake and the ice caves themselves are fascinating both geologically and historically.
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Spring Has Sprung! Try Some Spring Fishing & RVing on Central Vancouver Island, BC
Looking to bring out that fishing rod a little early this year? Here are four RV accessible campsites open year-round on central Vancouver Island located on or near a fishable lake or river. Beat the summer heat and enjoy some spring camping and fishing!
Arrowvale Riverside Campground and Cottages
Offering a traditional camping experience with over forty sites, Arrowvale Campground and Cottages in Port Alberni is ideal for a small family adventure or a large group camp-out. There are unserviced or serviced sites, with many close to the Somass River. Sproat Lake Provincial Park is a short drive away from the campground, where you can hike and fish the day away. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and even kokanee, a land-locked sockeye salmon, can be caught along the shore or by boat on this scenic lake.
Chemainus River Campground
Enjoy a scenic getaway at Chemainus River Campground, located on 23 acres along the Chemainus River. Soak in the views atop the river escarpment. Discover wildlife on the property, including eagles, ravens, woodpeckers, squirrels, deer and beaver. Lawn games and swimming can be found along their private beach.
This campground is in a freshwater fishing hub, with Chemainus Lake, Fuller Lake and Lake Cowichan all just a stone’s throw away. Hike around Chemainus Lake to find a secret spot to catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and brook char from shore, or bring a belly boat to explore the lake. Fuller Lake has a dock, so you can cast for larger rainbow trout living in the cooler, deeper waters. Lake Cowichan offers fishing spots from shore and boat rentals to explore the further reaches of the lake.
Horne Lake Regional Park Campground
Don’t let the unpaved road deter you from spending a weekend at Horne Lake Regional Park, located near Qualicum Beach. Over five kilometers of riverfront and lake front RV sites are yours to enjoy and explore, almost all with a view of the water. The famous Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park is down the road from the campground and is fun for the whole family. A boat ramp, canoe and kayak rentals, a dock, and ample shore access allow anglers of all ages and abilities to spend their days on the water. Cutthroat trout, kokanee, rainbow trout and brook char can be caught year-round.
Riverside RV & Camping
Located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, Riverside RV & Camping is a full-service RV and camping destination. The entire site is covered by treed and grassy areas, all along the world class Cowichan River. Take your pick of RV sites, as they offer full or partial hook-ups for 50 RV units and 25 tenting spots in shady or sunny spaces. If you are looking for a beautiful day trip, venture to Lake Cowichan to enjoy fishing from shore or by boat. On foot, find a quiet spot along the Cowichan River and try your luck along the river bank.
Don’t forget to purchase your licence and read and understand the Freshwater Fishing Regulations before you head out. And if you’ve never tried fishing and want to give it a try, you can borrow a rod and tackle for free from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery in Duncan.
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Published: April 25th, 2018
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