Why British Columbia Should Be Your Next Backpacking Destination
British Columbia is a gold mine for backpackers. Surrounded by a rugged coastline on the Pacific and dozens of mountain ranges all around, it’s no wonder that this part of Canada holds so many surprises for the adventurous hiker; you just need to know where to look:
The Glacial Lakes
British Columbia has some of the most gorgeous glacial lakes in the world, and you shouldn’t need too much convincing to hike to one of them. Because of the way the glaciers flow into the water, it gives the lakes a gorgeous, blue color that looks like something straight out of a (photo-shopped) post-card. Head to Garibaldi Lake or or Joffre Lakes to catch these absolutely amazing views, or go for a hike in the provincial parks surrounding them.
The Glaciers Themselves
In addition to the lakes, this region hosts some awesome glaciers that you don’t need to travel back in time to the Ice Age to see. Juneau Icefield, which stretches from Alaska to British Columbia, is made up 34 glaciers alone. Here, you can hike, do some hardcore mountaineering, ski, climb, and backpack on long-term excursions. You can also visit Glacier National Park, which currently has 25 glaciers. However, you better visit there quickly, as the glaciers are estimated to only be around for a little while longer. There are tons to see here, from the animals and plant species, mountain peaks, and exciting, icy trails to backpack and camp-out on.
Look no further than BC if you want to hike some of the best trails this side of North America. With so many hikes to discover, it’s hard to know where to begin. One place to start though, is Squamish. This popular spot has gorgeous scenery surrounding the trails, and the trails are appropriate for any level. Head to ‘The Chief’, which is a mountain famous for its granite outcropping and pilgrimage for rock climbers. The Diez Vistas is a nice trail that while a bit long, isn’t too difficult; and the views are totally worth it. If you don’t mind the challenge, then hit some of BC’s mountain hiking trails, like the Howe Crest Sound Trail to St. Mark’s Summit or the steep alpine slopes at Mount Baker Recreation Area.
It’s important to know that British Columbia is home to several mountain ranges, including the Coast Mountains, the Canadian Rockies, the Cassiar Mountains, and the Columbia Mountains. Actually, the area is pretty much surrounded by these mountains, and if you love backpacking, you’ll quickly see why so many come here to explore. To name a few popular peaks, you can head to Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Goat Mountain, and The Lions, which are just some of the countless summits awaiting your on some of the most rewarding, but yet challenging, trails up.
Each individual park in British Columbia offers something special to every backpacker that comes here. You surely won’t leave any park disappointed. After visiting Glacier National Park, some other good spots to see are Yoho National Park, Wells Gray Provincial Park, Kootenay National Park, and Gwaii Haanas National Park and Preserve. Whether you choose to come for the hikes, the peaks, or the breathtaking scenery, these parks offer everything from waterfalls and wildlife, to archaeological ruins and amazing hot springs.
As many hiking trails and mountain peaks there are in British Columbia are just as many waterfalls within them. There is nothing like reaching such a beautiful oasis in the middle of the outdoors after a long day, or days, of hiking. Although every waterfall in BC is a gem worth visiting, if you only have time for a few, then try Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, Shannon Falls in Squamish, Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Park, or Virgin Falls in Vancouver Island.
British Columbia, with all its government protected land, has become somewhat of a sanctuary for wildlife. That being said, there are still over 100 species inside the province that are considered to be threatened or endangered species, so if you come to see the wildlife here, make sure to be respectful and do so from a distance. Also, some animals are of course dangerous to humans, so be aware of your surroundings at all times. In BC, you can catch sight of everything from black bears, to wolverines, deer, caribou, lynx, badgers, mountain sheep, bobcats, and by the water, tons of orcas and dolphins (depending on the time of year).
Vancouver Island is not just a college town, but also one of the best places to go for backpackers. From long hikes, coastline trails, and alpine areas, to gorgeous scenery packed by mountain peaks, waterfalls, and opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing. Vancouver Island is an amazing destination for those looking to connect with nature for an extended period of time. It truly is a backpacker’s paradise, as is all of British Columbia.