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Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Updates on conditions in the backcountry
Please note that, due to an excessive number of public inquiries, BC Parks Regional staff are unable to effectively respond or return every phone inquiry received concerning this park. Please appreciate that our staff are not able to assess the conditions in the backcountry on a regular basis in the winter/spring, nor are we able to predict or provide weather or current snowpack conditions. Facility and trail conditions are updated on our website as soon as we have new information to post. For information on historic weather conditions in these or other areas, please see Environment Canada: Historical Climate Data.
The most common questions about the park are answered on the parks' web pages; BC Parks recommends that visitors review this information prior to visiting. If you have an inquiry that isn’t answered on our web pages, please submit your questions or concerns online. We appreciate your cooperation.
Flooding at Boy Scout Camp on Earl Grey Pass Trail
Hikers using the Earl Grey Pass trail are advised that the location known as “Boy Scout camp” between the 3rd and the 4th cable car from the west end of the trail has been impacted by flooding and mudflows. This location is not suitable for camping and it is recommended that hikers choose an alternate camping location. Hikers are reminded to choose a safe and appropriate location to camp and to be aware of trees, streams and other natural hazards when selecting a campsite location.
Road washed out approximately 500m from Findlay Creek Trailhead
A clear, easy to follow trail goes above the washout to the trailhead kiosk.
Access to Earl Grey Pass Trail from the Toby Creek Trailhead
To access the Earl Grey Pass Trail from the Toby Creek Trailhead, it is best to park at the trailhead and walk the 2 km to the park boundary; the road has been permanently deactivated. Follow the road while staying left along the creek to locate where the trail begins. For more information, please call 250 489-8540.
For more information about hiking in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, read the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Trail Information page.
- Trail iInformation for the west side of the park [PDF] (scroll to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy entry)
- Trail Conditions Report for the east end of the park [PDF] (October 18, 2019)
- The Birchdale Trail continues for 2km beyond the Fry Creek bridge. This trail ends at private property and there is no designated trail access to the community of Birchdale at this time.
About This Park
The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park and Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Corridor Protected Area embraces six large drainages flowing east to the Columbia River system and three flowing west to Kootenay Lake. All of which emanate from the rugged and glaciated backbone of the spectacular Purcell Mountain Range of southeastern BC. It is a challenging, undeveloped nearly pristine mountain landscape encompassing five biogeoclimatic zones and the only intact ecosystem in southeastern B.C.
Visitors to the Purcells should be experienced, self-sufficient wilderness travellers capable of interpreting topographical maps and route-finding. Wilderness recreation values include hunting, fishing, hiking, cultural sites, climbing, horseback riding (on the east side of the Park only) and wildlife viewing. A special feature also in the park is the Dewar Creek Hot Springs.
The Conservancy is a non-mechanized area. This means that the use of vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles, bicycles and helicopters to access the Park are prohibited.
A number of guide-outfitters offer hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing multi-day excursions.
Established Date for the park: December 12, 1974; for the protected area: February 14, 1996
Park Size: 198,115.6 hectares for the park; 1,990 hectares for the protected area
Know Before You Go
- Persons visiting the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park, are reminded that the park is a wilderness area, without supplies, public shelters, improved trails, or equipment of any kind. All arrangements for supplies, rescue and transportation must be made beforehand.
- All park visitors should wear strong waterproofed, lug-soled boots and carry a daypack with raingear, extra warm clothing and food. Weather conditions can change suddenly in this area and lightning storms with hail and snow are common in summer. For overnight trips a sleeping bag, groundpad, waterproof tent or bivouac bag and lightweight stove are essential. Only experienced climbers practised in crevasse rescue and properly roped, should venture onto snowfields and glaciers.
- Loaded logging trucks and other industrial traffic may be encountered while accessing this park. Drive with extreme caution and for your safety, always yield to industrial traffic.
- Public communications are not available at this park.
- The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy is home to a healthy resident grizzly bear population and visitors should be prepared for sightings. Recognizing recent signs, maintaining clean camps and remaining alert while travelling, are import for the visitor and bear safety.
- Most of the stream crossings in the park are un-bridged and must be forded. The major drainages may be in flood until the end of July and are at times not negotiable either on horse or foot. The exceptions are the 5 cable cars on the Hamill Creek portion of the Earl Grey Trail, the cable car over Carney Creek near the bottom of the trail to Kootenay Joe Ridge, the bridge over Westley Creek on the Dewar Creek trail, and the bridge over Fry Creek Canyon. Note that gloves are useful for pulling on the cable on the cable car crossings.
- Historical structures exist: use caution.
- Giardiasis, commonly known as “Beaver Fever” exists throughout the backcountry of British Columbia. Water should be boiled or filtered before drinking. For more information on Giardiasis, please read the BC Healthfile
- Enjoy your visit to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and the Earl Grey Trail, but please leave it as you have found it so that future visitors may enjoy it as you have. Please practice no trace camping.
- Please be extremely careful with fire. Primus-type stoves should be utilized for all cooking.
- You will need a British Columbia angling licence if you plan to fish.
- Firearms are prohibited except during a valid hunting season. Please consult British Columbia Hunting Regulations for dates.
Location and Maps
Acquiring a backroad mapbook for the area is recommended.
Maps and Brochures
- Management Planning Information
- Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Management Planning Information
Activities Available at this Park
Visitors should be able to read maps and be capable of route finding. Because this is a wilderness conservancy, the park has no facilities or marked trails and is not regularly serviced. Visitors should be self-sufficient and proficient in backcountry travel practices. For more information please see the Trail Information Page.