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Two people in the distance walk in front of Exstew Falls in Terrace, Grant Harder. The waterfall plunges from the rock face behind it.

Outdoor Adventures Along Route 16

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Exstew Falls near Terrace | Grant Harder

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Northwest BC is one massive playground for outdoor enthusiasts—and you don’t have to venture far from the beaten path to find remote wilderness adventures. Route 16, northern BC’s main artery, slips into British Columbia’s eastern edge near Mount Robson and stretches west through untouched wilderness and postcard scenes towards the coast. Tying a mosaic of communities together, it winds through towering forests, majestic peaks, rushing rivers, and endless chains of pristine lakes, so pack a sense of adventure and take a journey along Route 16.


Start Your Trip

If you’re coming from Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, this road trip begins by travelling along the Trans Canada Highway 1 east towards Hope and then north to Cache Creek. From there, continue north on Highway 97 through Williams Lake to Prince George.

Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park | Tourism Prince George/Michael Stanyer

Prince George

Located at the fork of the Fraser and Nechako rivers, and surrounded by hundreds of lakes, Prince George is a city on the edge of wilderness. Book a canoe or kayak tour of the historic Fraser Canyon with Backwater Paddling, or a guided fishing trip with Reel North Adventures. Hike Teapot or Fang mountains for stunning views of the area, or head east to walk among the giants in the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Park and Protected Area, the only inland temperate rainforest in the world. Mountain bike the trails at Pidherny Recreation Site or enjoy nature on horseback with El Shaddai Ranch. On the way west, be sure to stop in Vanderhoof and hike to Greer Creek Falls.

Before heading west to the Lakes District, take a side trip east to see Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

Pondosy Bay Wilderness Lodge

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Lakes District

The Lakes District serves up over 300 lakes and almost 5,000 kilometres of shoreline. View the abundance of lakes from above by booking a flightseeing tour with Lakes District Air. All this fresh water means there’s no shortage of wilderness lodges, like Pondosy Bay Wilderness ResortTesla Lake Lodge, and Tetachuk Wilderness Lodge.

In Burns Lake, stop in at Woods N’ Water for all your camping and outdoor gear, and swing by Burnt Bikes before hitting the area’s extensive mountain bike trails. Be sure to check with Ride Burns about any events or trail updates. There’s even a site to camp at Boer Mountain/Kager Lake at the base of the trails. Hike to the towering Cheslatta Falls, or for those looking for a memorable day on the water, paddle and fly-fish the Stellako River.

China Knows | Abby Cooper


The community of Houston lies in the beautiful Bulkley Valley amongst some of BC’s finest outdoor recreational opportunities. If it’s riverbanks, waterfalls (check out Aitken, Buck, Findlay or Byman Falls) and hiking you’re after (the views from China Knows are unforgettable), look no further than this sweeping countryside.

Houston is also home to the world’s largest fly fishing rod. That should give you an idea of how plentiful the angling opportunities are in the area.

Twin Falls | Andrew Strain


From its Alpen-themed main street to its adventurous locals, Smithers is a classic Northern BC mountain town. Stop in to McBike & Sport to rent a bike and hit the trails, swing into Local Supply Co. to rent a paddle board to float the Bulkley River or enjoy the local lakes. You can also rent a canoe from Aquabatics, and be sure to stop into Oscar’s Fly & Tackle for all things fishing. Frontier Experience offers two-, three- and five-day all-inclusive, luxury lodge stays loaded with outdoor activities. For an extra treat, indulge with a hiking retreat at the Burnie Glacier Chalet or book a flight seeing tour with Alpine Lakes Air and see the local lakes and mountains from a new vantage point.

On your way to Terrace, be sure to stop at ‘Ksan Historical Village, a living museum of the Gitxsan Indigenous people, which is situated at the fork of the Bulkley and Skeena rivers.

Exchamsiks River | Callum Snape


Terrace is a perfect launching pad for northwest adventure: mountain biking, boating, hiking, and climbing. Explore the mighty Skeena River by jet boat with Northern BC Jet Boat Tours, or book a fishing trip with Skeena Spey or Westcoast Fishing Adventures. The Redsand Lake Demonstration Forest offers 1.6 kilometres of wheelchair accessible trail, as well as a beautiful sandy beach. Seven Sisters and Sleeping Beauty Mountain provincial parks, as well as Extew Falls located just outside of town, are popular for hiking.

The surrounding Coast Mountains offer incredible rock climbing, as does nearby Hazleton, named after the hazel bushes that colour the surrounding river-carved terraced landscape. Skeena Climbing Society is a good resource for routes in the region. If it’s mountain biking you’re after, be sure to check in with TORCA, the local volunteer-run off road cycling association. Stay at river’s edge in the Skeena River House, or cozy up in a cabin at Hidden Acres Treehouse Resort.

Hiking near Kitimat | Northern BC Tourism/Chris Wang


With its remote beach escapes and mountain trails, Kitimat offers year-round, accessible outdoor adventures. Hike along the banks of the Kitimat River or into the mountains for spectacular views of the fjord from above. Paddle the waters of the Douglas Channel or rent mountain bikes and kayaks from the Visitor Centre in town, or book a guided tour with Kitimat Lodge, Kingfish Westcoast Adventures and Tours, or North Pacific Transport & Eco-Tours.

For the hot springs lovers, Kitimat abounds with natural, ocean side hot springs. Book a boat charter to explore Bishop Bay – Monkey Beach conservancy, or the remote Shearwater Hot Springs Conservancy.

Prince Rupert | Shayd Johnson

Prince Rupert

Often cited as one of the most beautiful drives in British Columbia, the final stretch of Route 16 from Terrace to Prince Rupert follows the Skeena River to the Pacific Ocean. Prince Rupert has no shortage of outdoor adventures at its doorstep. Rent canoes or book a guided day of paddling with Skeena Kayaking. Book a fishing, whale-watching charter or harbour tour with Prince Rupert Harbour Tours, Blacktide Adventures or Blackfeather Fishing Charters.

Be sure to check out the new Lax Süülda Container Market, and stop in at Wheelhouse Brewing for a perfect way to cap off your Route 16 adventure.

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Originally published in June, 2020.

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