Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
Nestled at the foot of Hudson Bay Mountain, approximately half-way between Prince George and Prince Rupert in Northern BC, the area around Smithers is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. Here are 6 of my favourite photography spots around Smithers:
When my family first moved from Abbotsford to Smithers in 2007, one of the first hikes we did was Malkow Lookout. It was an easy hike through meadows and trees to the top where we could see up and down the Bulkley Valley. Hudson Bay Mountain in all it’s majestic glory was right there in front of us, towering over the town. Little did I know at that point, how important a place in my life this mountain would inhabit in the years to come.
How to get here: Take Old Babine Lake Road (east of Smithers) for about 5 km (3.1 mi) to McCabe Road. There you’ll turn left and continue on to a small parking lot on the side of the road (across from the Logpile Lodge). The hike to the top of the lookout is about 3 km (1.9 mi).
Whether I’m enjoying the runs on the ski hill, or ski-touring up to and above Crater Lake, Hudson Bay Mountain is a place like no other. An endless variety of textures and colours, both big and small, surround me and bring my soul an unmatched level of tranquility and inspiration.
How to get here: The road up to the mountain starts on the east end of Smithers by turning onto the Dahlie Road overpass off of Pacific Street. After a few km of paved road, the remaining drive up is on gravel. Be aware that there are some switchbacks near the bottom of the mountain as you make your way up.
Whether it’s walking in the forest along the road up to the parking lot, or sitting at a picnic table by the water, or being blasted by the mist of the falls, there is always something enticing for me to explore and photograph at Twin Falls. The most exciting times for me are when I walk up past the viewing station, and scramble over the rocks by the rushing water, and make my way along a path to stand at the base of the left-most waterfall. I’m always inspired by the unrelenting power of the water as it crashes down from above.
How to get here: Follow Hwy 16 west of Smithers for about 4 km (2.5 mi), turn left onto Lake Kathlyn Road and follow the signs to “Glacier Gulch and Twin Falls”. After crossing the railroad tracks, turn left on Glacier Gulch Road and eventually you’ll make your way up through the trees to the maintained recreation site and parking lot. There’s signage there directing you up the paths to the different vantage points.
Regardless of the season, one of my favourite places to visit on Hudson Bay Mountain is Crater Lake. Hiking through the trees or up the Prairie T-Bar line and then across the prairie, the crater is always there in front of me, beckoning me onward and upward. There’s something magical about seeing the stillness of the lake against the rugged beauty of the surrounding mountains.
How to get here: Once you get up to Hudson Bay Mountain, continue driving to the parking lot at the Prairie T-Bar. In the summer there’s a small parking lot where you can leave your vehicle as you hike up through the trees on the well worn path.
Having only discovered the Glacier Gulch Trail mid-2015, it’s become a welcome addition to my repertoire of great local hikes. I enjoy the variety of the narrow, rocky trail interspersed with the stillness of softer soil in the trees the higher you get. Each time I go out, it’s a challenge to see if I can reach the treeline faster than the time before. Then, after a couple hours, I get to sit and enjoy amazing views. As a photographer, it’s paradise.
How to get here: After arriving at the Twin Falls recreation site, start up the main pathway where you’ll come to a fork in the path (marked by a sign). Go left and start on the path marked by the Glacier Gulch trail sign. How long it takes to get up through the trees to the scree and then the glacier depends entirely on your fitness level and how well provisioned you are. First timers should budget about 2.5 hours to get to the glacier. Depending on the time of year you go up, pay attention to when the sun sets, as walking down the mountain in the dark isn’t very much fun (or safe).
When I’m not skiing, one of my favourite places to be is out on the water. I find it so incredibly peaceful, whether I’m paddle boarding, or in this case, sitting in my kayak. My family and I had spent a nice evening at Tyhee Lake, and before we went home, I wanted some time out in the lake to watch the sunset. In the 20 minutes or so I was sitting in the middle of the lake, I watched an amazing sky dance of colours change from one moment to the next. It was hard to leave and go home.
How to get here: Tyhee Lake is located 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Smithers, close to Telkwa. There are available sites for camping and an expansive parking lot.
If you find yourself up in this neck of the woods, get in touch with me. I’d love to get out and show you around. I really enjoy showing off my home and all the beauty that it has to offer.
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