It’s the first contact point for most Australians heading to Canada, and for an initial introduction to the raft of adventurous activities this country has to offer, British Columbia (BC) packs in plenty. Whether it is multi-day walks, sea kayak exploration, wildlife viewing or cycling, BC will keep you well entertained.
Walks that pack a punch
For hikers, BC is brilliant. Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail (WCT) is rated as one of the world’s 10 best multi-day hikes – and with good reason. This epic hiking experience is a moderate-to-challenging ramble along the island’s southwestern coastline, through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
It follows the route of an old rescue track that authorities (and survivors) used when the oft-wild seas of the Pacific Ocean wrecked ships off the island’s coast.
The terrain lurches from long, sandy beaches to dense rainforest and rivers, through to root-filled tracks, old (and new) duckboard sections and more than 70 ladders that take you over the most challenging parts of the track – and deliver you at day’s end to your beachside campsite.
A very different walk can be tackled in BC’s northwest, on the 53km Chilkoot Trail. This retraces the route used originally by the Tlingit First Nations people, then by desperate treasure-hunters in the late 1800s, lured from the world over by the siren call of the Klondike Gold Rush.
The Chilkoot starts across the US border in Dyea, Alaska, travelling through coastal forest, before taking you back into Canada and northwest BC where you climb high above the tree line before crossing the often snow-covered Chilkoot Pass (1074m).
Why heli-hiking is the next best thing
Hiking in BC doesn’t have to mean lugging your pack and heading off into the wild for a week or more, though. Heli-hiking is a brilliant option, as are lodge-based walking adventures, such as those found in the Bugaboos mountain range in eastern BC.
Imagine being transported by helicopter to a trailhead, walking for most of the day (or being a bit more adventurous and trying a few via ferrate routes), then being picked up and flown back to the lodge for a shower, dinner and a few celebratory drinks at the lodge bar. Yes, please!
Other hiking options include hut-to-hut adventures, such as a six-day sojourn through Wells Gray Provincial Park in central-eastern BC, and also the beautiful Sunshine Coast hut-to-hut adventure, in BC’s south-west corner, is another great multi-day experience with the benefit of walking with light day-packs, and having your food dropped at each hut.
And, after walking the Sunshine Coast and not wanting to leave, you can also explore this region by sea kayak.
Where to spot the best wildlife in British Columbia
Other water-based adventures on offer in the province include the chance to explore Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the BC coast often referred to as ‘Canada’s Galapagos’ due to its rich and unique marine life.
It is also the spiritual home of the Haida First Nations people, with some of the islands containing historic sites, such as villages and engraved totem/burial poles.
Of course, a trip to BC isn’t complete without the chance to view one of the province’s most famous wild residents: bears. There are numerous bear lodges that provide some amazing close-up viewing opportunities.
Yep, no matter how long you think you have to ‘do’ BC, it will never be enough. But it does means you have the perfect excuse to plan a return trip…
Words by Justin Walker