Awaken Your Wild Side this Spring in BC’s Mountains

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Year round, British Columbia’s iconic snow-capped mountains serve as the backdrop to an urban panorama. As soon as the winter begins to fade and the more temperate springtime weather approaches, these landscapes of epic proportions bring out the adventurer in all of us city folk, and we head towards the outdoors—to the trailheads, and into mountain country.

Ten distinct mountain ranges stand as evidence of Mother Nature’s sheer power and tenacity in this striking corner of the world, though many of BC’s mountains are not accessible to hikers and forest bathers before summer. But don’t fret, for there are numerous options for a spring mountain escape if you know where to go.

Pemberton | @victoraerden

Lower Stein Valley

Just two-and-a-half hours from Vancouver up the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Pemberton makes a perfect base for a weekend (or more) of diverse outdoor activities that will have you exploring the bounty of this mountain valley. Though it’s 90 kilometres (56 miles) north of Whistler, Pemberton offers a warmer and milder microclimate, perfect for a hiking adventure. 

About 17 kilometres (11 miles) past Pemberton, you’ll reach the town of Mt. Currie and the nearby Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park, home to trails that cut through the alpine for stunning views and access points to an excellent ridge complex. The area’s more accessible walks are in the lower valley, where weather is often much milder, particularly in springtime.

Hell's Gate Airtram in the Fraser Canyon, BC | Vagabond Quest

The Fraser Canyon

The Fraser Canyon to the east of Vancouver is where the Fraser River cuts a steep gorge between the Cascades and the Coast Mountains, which makes for quite a sight—and a new perspective on two of British Columbia’s iconic mountain ranges. Follow Highway 1 east of Vancouver, and within two hours you’ll hit this dramatic stretch of road. For 109 kilometres (68 miles) between Hope and Lytton, the mighty river rushes below the rugged landscape. Make a stop along the way to across the narrowest point of the canyon on the Hell’s Gate Airtram, where the river is forced through a passage that’s only 35 metres (115 feet) wide.

Floatplane in BC's South Chilcotin Mountains

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Bridge River Valley

The Bridge River Valley near Lillooet is a gateway to BC’s South Chilcotin, home to a spectacular mountain range. The area offers challenging alpine terrain though some friendly ridges and meadows can also be found. While this area is best accessed from June to August due to inclement (read: snowy) weather, a lovely way to experience the area during spring is by viewing it from the air: See glacier fields, flower-filled meadows, volcanic formations, and alpine lakes starting as early as May, and meditate on nature’s diverse bounty—from the comforts of a six-seater floatplane.

View of Sunshine Coast from Mount Gardner | @carolmtl

Mount Gardner on Bowen Island

Bowen Island offers a back-to-basics kind of atmosphere that makes you feel as though you’ve travelled deep into British Columbia’s wilderness, though you’re only an hour away from Vancouver. Catch a ride with BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay on a 20-minute sailing to Snug Cove, then disembark and make your way through the town and over to nearby Mount Gardner. At its summit, expect memorable views of Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast, backdropped by the picturesque Coast Mountains off in the distance. You’ll even see downtown Vancouver and the Burrard Inlet, reminding you just how far—yet somehow close—you are from the urban bustle. 



Century Sam Lake | Boomer Jerritt

Strathcona Provincial Park

Strathcona Provincial Park, the oldest provincial park in BC, offers visitors over 240,000 hectares (593,000 acres) of rugged green space laced with rivers, creeks, and streams. At about 200 kilometres north of Nanaimo, it is an apt choice for a multi-day wilderness escape on Vancouver Island. Seek out scenic splendours in visitor-oriented areas of Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau, or beyond, into the more remote regions where you can find smaller lakes and alpine tarns dotting the landscape. At the centre of the park, you’ll find the highest point on Vancouver Island, the Golden Hinde, which stands an impressive 2,200 metres (7,220 feet) in elevation. While many of the trails are snowbound until July, there are numerous options for springtime hiking at lower elevations with splendid views of the surrounding mountains. Paradise Meadows is lush green in the spring, Lady Falls and Lupin Falls are great during the spring freshet, and for backcountry enthusiasts, Elk River Trail offers sights along a beaver dam (!) as well as riverside camping.

Being in the presence of big nature is known to increase our well-being. Consider a wilderness escape and experience the calming, awe-inspiring presence of BC’s majestic mountains. 

Featured image: Toba Inlet. Photo: Wilderness International/Erik van de Perre

Know Before You Go

No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, you must be prepared. Remember to follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to get informed before heading outdoors.

Road work and wildfires can affect travel plans during the summer. Check DriveBC and BC Wildfire Service before you go to plan your journey.

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