Wells Gray Provincial Park: Backcountry AreasThe backcountry areas of Wells Gray Park offer hiking to suit a wide variety of abilities and interests, user-maintained wilderness camping, with opportunities for canoeing, fishing, exploring and wildlife viewing. Most trails are located within the southern third of the Park – north of that, visitors must be adept at map-and-compass orienteering. All hikers, whether day-trip or overnight, should be completely self-sufficient, and have advised friends and family of proposed route and time of return. The Provincial Emergency Program created an excellent form, TRIP PLAN FOR OUTDOOR SURVIVAL – please use it! Forms can be picked up at the Info Centre or from the R.C.M.P.
- Backcountry area map is available here [PDF 94KB].
- Trail conditions and updates will be posted on the main page under the Attention Visitor Notice.
Hobson Lake: Please note: The Bridge is out on Hobson Lake trail at Lickskillet Creek. The Hobson Lake trailhead is located in the river channel between Clearwater and Azure Lakes. Visitors can leave their canoe in this area, or arrange transportation with the tour boat operator. Hiking through a forest of cedar/hemlock, visitors must be prepared for blow-down and rough conditions. Carry insect repellent and water. The tour boat company has some rental canoes at the south end of Hobson Lake, for those wishing to explore further. The hike is approx 26 km return. No designated camp sites, but good lakeshore camping in low water of August/September. There is lots of glacial till in the lake water; boil creek water for drinking instead.
Kostal Lake: This route begins on the main Wells Gray Park road, just across from Clearwater Lake Campground. From Clearwater Lake to Kostal Lake is 24 km. Suitable for experienced hikers only, prepared for map-and-compass orienteering. There are steep switchbacks, boggy, muddy sections, devil’s club, and thick brush; be prepared for large deadfall across the trail. Carry insect repellent and water. There is a wilderness campsite near the half-way point, with water nearby. At Kostal camp mid-way along the north shore of the lake. Be aware that the camping area is easy to miss. Hikers can continue on to McDougall Lake, an additional 4 km. Approx 1.5 km is across lava flow, which requires particular care. The lava is sharp and unstable underfoot, so wear adequate hiking boots. Note that travel across lava can be very hot during sunny weather, so carry plenty of water take care to avoid heat-related health problems. McDougall has a limited tenting area.
Pyramid Mountain and Horseshoe Falls: From a parking area near Pyramid Campground, a 15 km trail leads to Horseshoe Falls on the Murtle River. A side trail leads to Pyramid Lakes, noted for ice-fishing in winter months. Two wilderness campsites are located along the Murtle, the first just north of Pyramid Mountain and the second on the riverbank above Horseshoe Falls. Where the trail skirts the base of Pyramid, a side trail leads to the summit, providing panoramic views of the south end of Wells Gray Park. Pyramid Mountain is a tuya, a volcano that erupted under a glacier approx 11,000 years ago. Carry insect repellent and water.
Stevens Lakes: Located on the eastern side of Wells Gray, access is via Road 9, north of Clearwater. These are active logging roads; care must be taken on corners and blind areas. From the trailhead, hike north across high sub-alpine meadows, and then west, through switchbacks, down to the southern lake in the Stevens chain. There are cairns to guide visitors across the meadows. The lakeshore is very marshy, with an area suitable for camping on the small peninsula where the trail reaches the lakeshore. Other camping areas are found by Snookwa Creek and farther to the north, along the lakes. All persons hiking in this area should be experienced with map-and-compass as poor weather can restrict visibility. Carry insect repellent and boil lake water before drinking. Stevens Lakes are noted for rainbow trout.
Green Mountain Canyonlands: This trail system is the only one in Wells Gray open to horse use, with guided rides available. Access points are the Flatiron and White Horse Bluffs trailheads, with circle hikes possible. Some excellent wilderness camping sites along the Clearwater River; note that everybody is restricted to camping in specific sites only. Trail maps are posted at all trailheads and junctions. The trail system is approx 40 km total length.
Battle Mountain: This high elevation area can be hiked as a loop trail, approx 30 km total length. Leaving your vehicle at the first parking area on the Battle Mountain road (2.5 km from the Wells Gray Park road) take the Battle Creek trail. The lower half of the trail is dry, but steep switchbacks with loose rock make hiking time slow. Approx 11 km from trailhead to Fight Lake Meadows camping area. A small public-use cabin is located behind a cluster of trees – not bug-proof, but adequate shelter in bad weather.
If used in the winter, skiers may have to dig to find it – be sure to clear all snow from the chimney before lighting the fire! Don’t confuse this very simple structure with the chalet at the base of 52 Ridge, owned by a company offering guided hiking and skiing trips through this area. Fight Lake provides a good base camp for exploring 52 Ridge, and the expansive Cariboo Meadows, noted for wild flower displays in July and early August. From Fight Meadows, follow the trail south to Philip Lake, returning to the Battle Mountain road via a steep trail along the Philip Creek drainage. Return to your vehicle by hiking 5 km down the road. This upper section is not suitable for anything less than a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive. Hikers must be prepared for mountain weather with white-out conditions. Carry insect repellent and water.
Trophy Mountain: The most easily accessed of Wells Gray’s backcountry areas, with spectacular wild flower displays in July and August. Follow Roads 80, 10, and 201 from the Wells Gray Park Road, with a handout available at the Wells Gray Information Centre in Clearwater to guide your way. From the parking lot, a 1 km hike leads to the sub-alpine meadows, with an additional 1.5 km taking visitors to Sheila Lake. Hikers seeking panoramic views can continue on to Skyline Ridge (12 km round trip from the parking lot). Be prepared for sudden changes in weather, carry insect repellent and water, and watch for bear sign – the slopes of Trophy are important grizzly habitat. The alpine environment is so fragile and slow to recover from damage it is important to ensure that everyone stays on the trail, camp in the designated site only, light no open fires, carry out everything you bring in, and if you must bring your dog, keep it on a leash and on the trail at all times.