Road Trip Along BC’s Gold Rush Trail

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Nature shaped British Columbia’s future when gold fever hit in 1858. The flood of prospectors to the area prompted Britain to name BC a British colony. Paths were trekked that connected the province and a flash of riches saw new communities flourish.

Today, adventure seekers follow BC’s Gold Rush Trail for a taste of adrenaline and history.

The Mighty Fraser River

The Gold Rush began on BC’s longest river, the Fraser, and continued from New Westminster through to Prince George. Now, the river is the place go for salmon fishing and rafting adventures.

A red airtram travels over a red bridge and rushing waters.

This portion of the river was named Hell’s Gate by explorer Simon Fraser (many early navigators lost their lives attempting to cross here). Visitors can now easily traverse Hell’s Gate by airtram, suspension bridge, or from the comforts of home with Google Street View. Photo: Vagabond Quest

Cariboo Trails

Hiking and mountain biking options in the Cariboo are vast. Take a gentle boardwalk ride or a multi-day mountain bike expedition in the wetlands near Wells-Barkerville, or near Williams Lake.

The Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park has 150-km (93-mi) of hiking trails. For short hikes, stay in the lower valley. The park protects an intact watershed and preserves the First Nation’s history of the area (keep an eye out for pictographs and petroglyphs).

Train tracks follow a river through a rocky mountain landscape.

“Are we still in BC? From the place where green mountains turn to dry desert. The beautiful Cariboo.” Photo: @robin_arr via Instagram

Gold Cities

The boom of the Gold Rush created instant towns in BC. Many were abandoned for the next big gold find, leaving intact historic towns for visitors to experience today.

At the junction of Highway 97 and 99, you’ll find Hat Creek Ranch. Here you can catch a stagecoach for a ride along Hat Creek and visit a traditional First Nation’s village. Continuing north, you’ll find Barkerville with over 100 heritage buildings (you can even stay the night in some of them).

Provisions

Early settlers blazed trails with dynamite and determination, and journeyed with everything they would need to get through a winter. Today, you can pack light and break to eat along the way.

A wooden plank of craft beer samples.

Stop for a tasting at Barkerville Brewing Co. in Quesnel, and then visit the Old Time Farmers’ Market. Photo: @kb0gs via Instagram

A cup of coffee on a white and gold saucer with a small spoon.

Just past Hell’s Gate near Boston Bar is Fat Jack’s Diner, a home-style diner hidden gem serving classics with a twist. Photo: @tammy.gagne via Instagram

BC Gold Rush Trail Map

A map with a red line indicating the BC Gold Rush Route.

Dramatic scenery, history, and light traffic, make this a popular route for motorcycle touring.

Don’t forget to check road conditions and brush-up on these safe driving tips before you go.

Featured Image: Barkerville historic town. Photo: Rob Lloyd