Land Without Limits
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Call of the Wild: Outdoor Adventure in BC's Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

Niut Mountain | Kari Medig

Our outdoor adventures are as limitless as the sunsets, untouched wilderness and vast blue skies.

Nature makes herself accessible to all who visit our region. Adventure seekers will find adrenaline-pumping activities galore, like mountain biking, whitewater rafting, ice climbing, heli-skiing and climbing. But simpler pursuits, from hiking, canoeing and fishing to hunting, camping and kayaking, also beckon visitors into our beautiful natural world.

Hiking

Our region is a delight for hikers and ramblers. Lillooet is home base for many scenic hiking trails that feature historic connections to the gold rush era, and Lytton’s Stein Valley is an iconic destination for day, weekend or week-long treks. Amateur geologists use topographic quadrangle maps in the Marble Range near Clinton, an area noted for limestone karsts, wooded groves and alpine ridges. Trails from 108 Mile Ranch meander past lakesides and wetlands filled with waterfowl. Canim Lake area offers three majestic waterfalls, and Whale Lake boasts good fishing at the end of a 4-km (2.5-mi) hiking trail.

Family-friendly hikes include the Mount Agnes Trail network. Located near Barkerville, the trail follows the original Cariboo Waggon Road to wildflower-strewn alpine meadows below Summit Rock. In the Chilcotin, the 12-km (7.5-mi) Tchaikazan-Yohetta Trail connects the Tchaikazan and Yohetta valleys via Spectrum Pass and picture-perfect Dorothy Lake. And Williams Lake’s Esler Bluffs boasts 44 routes, offering hikes for any ability and fitness level.

Popular heli-assisted hikes and climbs can also be arranged by local operators. Mountaineers come from around the world to tackle the 3,000-m (9,842-ft) peaks of the Coast Range, including 4,016-m (13,176-ft) Mount Waddington, BC’s highest peak.

No fewer than 18 wheelchair-accessible trails form the Cariboo’s Low Mobility Trail Network. The Stanley Cemetery Low Mobility trail provides access to the historic graveyard which is the final resting spot of many pioneers and Chinese immigrants from the gold rush era. The Interlakes Pioneer Heritage Accessible Trail ventures past wetlands and through forest, while the 2.2-km (1.4-mi) Horsefly Accessible Trail meanders along the Horsefly river, offering views of the salmon spawning channel and the beautiful landscape.

In the Great Bear Rainforest along the central coast the Snooka Trail System sports leisurely hiking through lush rainforest. Awesome alpine views reward those who reach the network’s Purgatory Lookout. A series of trails between Bella Coola and Hagensborg offer various levels of difficulty. The East Loop Trail is an easy-grade circle route of 5.5 km (3 mi), with only a 50-m (164-ft) elevation gain; the West Trail is more challenging, with an elevation gain of 500 m (1,640 ft) over this 3.8-km (2.4-mi) one-way trek. This system of trails also links to other wilderness routes that lead deeper into the Bella Coola Valley backcountry.

BC Mountain Biking South Chilcotin

Taylor Pass, South Chilcotin | Destination BC/Mason Mashon

Mountain Biking

Many members of the global mountain biking community consider this region the unofficial mountain biking capital of Canada, with unlimited riding for both leisure bikers and adventure-seeking free riders. The terrain and quality trail systems offer distinct experiences in river valleys, rugged canyons, mountain peaks, logging roads, steeps, ramps and singletrack ridges. With such a vast variety of rides from which to choose, it’s possible to spend an entire summer here without setting a wheel in the same place twice. The Wells-Barkerville area also offers some of the most extraordinary trails in BC, from gentle boardwalk trails through quiet wetlands to day-long mountain expeditions in stunning alpine terrain.

Bike magazine labelled Williams Lake North America’s “Shangri-La of mountain biking.” More than 200 tracks and trails around the city offer riders their choice of technical loops; don’t miss Aflo, one of the most popular trails due to its awesome, banked turns. The city’s downtown Boitanio Bike Park covers more than four ha (10 ac) and is the largest of its kind in BC’s Interior, with six major jump lines, flow trails, log work, a pump track and drop zone.

The 100 Mile House area has hundreds of kilometres of marked and unmarked backcountry trails crisscrossing the plateau, with trails accessible around 108 Mile Ranch and downtown. On the 99 Mile trail network, riders need not stray from the trails (also not recommended!) for amazing rides. This area has challenges that appeal to all skill levels and age groups.

In the South Chilcotin, Spruce Lake offers epic grassland riding through alpine and sub-alpine meadows, skirting spectacular freshwater lakes. The classic 26-km (16-mi) single-track Gun Creek route gains elevation through a conifer forest mixed with aspen and cottonwood. Also popular are the South Tyaughton Lake’s 28-km (1-mi) Taylor-Pearson loop and the 44-km (27-mi) High Trail Loop into Windy Pass. Adventurous backcountry mountain bikers can also opt for floatplane and helicopter entries or packhorse-assisted and guided tours.

Climbers

Esler Bluffs, near Williams Lake, is generating serious excitement with the rope-and-rack set thanks to its heart-pumping routes, bouldering and single-pitch climbs ranging in difficulty from “no sweat” (5.7) to “sweat and nothing but” (5.11). Bella Coola boasts such classics as the nine-pitch Airport Wall (5.9-10+).

Ice climbers seek out the frozen Crown Lake Falls at Marble Canyon Provincial Park, where popular routes include Car Wrecker Gully and the spectacular five-pitch Tokkum Pole. Ice climbing adventures are also common west of Lillooet along the D’Arcy-Anderson Lake Road, which stretches 33 km (21 mi) along the west side of Anderson Lake from Seton Portage. All this to say, no need to put away the cleats when winter comes.

Likely BC, Cariboo Gold Rush Trail

Likely, BC | Michael Bednar

Fishing and Hunting

Fishing and hunting are more than occasional experiences here. They are a way of life and an important part of our culture. Imagine fishing a new lake or a new spot along the central coast every day for the rest of your life. Here you can: the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast boasts more than 8,000 lakes and 17,000 km (10,563 mi) of rivers and streams famous for rod-bending rainbow trout, cunning cutthroat and steel-hearted steelhead.

The nutrient-rich waters of the rugged Pacific coast yield succulent salmon, enormous halibut, prawns, buckets of fresh-and-lively Dungeness crab and several varieties of shrimp. Whether staying at a remote resort, a boutique property or a luxury offshore ocean floating camp, travellers are just a few minutes away from exceptional angling waters.

The Cariboo’s unlimited expanse of rivers and lakes also includes a stretch of road from Little Fort, at the junction of Highways 24 and 5, to 93 Mile House, at the western end of Highway 24, a route enthusiastically referred to in angling circles as “The Fishing Highway.” Spring-fed Sheridan Lake is stocked and is famous for its rainbow trout. Bridge Lake is close by, with bays and islands and crystal-clear waters teeming with rainbow and lake trout (char), kokanee and burbot. With 100-plus lakes typically within an hour’s drive, the Land of Hidden Waters really is a fishing paradise.

Meanwhile, fly-fishing enthusiasts head north of Williams Lake to jewel-like Dragon Lake, where cattails and bulrushes line the banks of the lake filled with trophy sized trout. Robert’s Roost Rv Park & Dolly’s Reach Bistro offers food and lodgings right on the lake, while Cariboo Rivers Fishing offers dry fly fishing float trips and grizzly bear viewing on nearby Blackwater River. In the Chilcotin, Charlotte Lake, at the foothills of the spectacular Coast Mountains, is renowned for its trophy rainbow trout. Fly fishing is king at nearby Nimpo Lake, where charter air services offer many fly-in options to lodges and remote fishing camps.

Then there’s the legendary Blackwater River, renowned for its gentle, canoe-friendly grade and numerous insect hatches feeding populations of trout, whitefish and squawfish. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden churn up the cerulean blue waters of the Chilko River where it leads out of massive Chilko Lake; it is as pretty as it is productive. Locals know to concentrate on the creek mouths where trout gather for their evening meal. Puntzi Lake is also a popular, easily accessible lake that provides fishing for the whole family.

The Coast region is crisscrossed by lakes and streams, though it is the saltwater that brings travellers and nature lovers to this ecologically diverse part of the world. Here, the salmon rules, and numerous lodges and camps, from budget to luxury high-end, cater to an international clientele of fly-in customers dreaming of catching “the big one.” These fishing expeditions often begin in the town of Bella Coola or Bella Bella and venture out to the many inlets and islands.

Though it may look like an obscure stretch of shoreline on a map of BC, the Great Bear Rainforest boasts names that fishing enthusiasts from around the world speak of with reverence: Rivers Inlet and Hakai Pass, where millions of salmon make first landfall after battling northern Pacific currents in search of their natal streams. Along the way, these salmon pass some of the most famous fishing holes on the coast, including Odlum Point, the Gap and Barney Point, where gentle back eddies provide rest and feeding areas for salmon and outstanding fishing opportunities for anglers and Orcas alike.

Steelhead hunters are well rewarded by a pilgrimage to the Dean River, better known as “steelhead central.” Fishing is too tame a word to describe the landing of these pugnacious sea-run fish. Some outfitters on the river provide a base camp for exciting expeditions, known to be gloriously full of this protected fish (and mercifully free of bugs). Both anglers and recreationists will also find that Big Stick, Clearwater and One Eye lakes offer excellent, pristine wilderness canoeing and fishing.

BC Wildlife and Eco Tours

Elk | Thomas Drasdauskis

During hunting seasons, trek into the wilderness with the aid of experienced guides to harvest mule deer, moose, California bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, cougar, lynx, bobcat, wolf or coyote. Here, certified guides and outfitters are as knowledgeable about wildlife habitats and conservation as they are about big game tracking and bear safety. Some local guides are Indigenous, and all have an intimate relationship with the landscape and its wildlife. Wilderness skills and knowledge of local species and habitat are based on an understanding of the natural world and represent a special opportunity for visitors to experience the region and its wildlife in profound ways. Throughout the region, services and accommodations range from full service, luxury four-season lodges, to rough-and-ready backcountry camps that cater to outdoor adventurers yearning for genuine wilderness hunting and fishing experiences.

Outfitters in the region provide a range of hunting excursions, depending on the game species, terrain and season. Catering to the abilities of every level, outfitters offer a variety of accommodation packages and limit group sizes. Many family operations are also multi-generational, providing rare insights not only about the wildlife but also about pioneers, history, ranching, culture, cuisine and more. Hearty meals cooked in camp kitchens or over the open fire offer warm comfort at days end.

No matter your choice, this land without limits offers the landscape, wildlife and expertise for unforgettable fishing and hunting experiences, plus the terrain for incredible hiking, biking, and climbing. It’s all here – so start planning your trip!