Smith River Falls - Fort Halkett Provincial Park
About This Park
This park contains the spectacular Smith River Falls. The 35 m high and 10 m wide falls plunge into a deep pool below with a thunderous roar, especially in early summer. The falls viewpoint is readily accessible by vehicle. The area also contains the old site of Fort Halkett, a former Hudson’s Bay Company post.
Established Date: January 25, 2001
Park Size: 254 hectares
Smith Falls/Fort Halkett Park is located at the confluence of Smith River and Liard River, near Kilometre 820 of the Alaska Highway and about 30 km west of Liard Hot Springs Park. A viewpoint to observe the Smith River falls can be reached by vehicle.
The largest community nearby is Fort Nelson, approximately 350 km southeast. The road is very narrow and may not be suitable for larger vehicles; passing oncoming traffic can be extremely difficult.
Nature and Culture
- History: Fort Halkett was a Hudsons Bay Company trading post established in 1829 on the Liard River near the Fort Nelson River, then moved farther west on the Liard to its confluence with the Smith River in 1832. The post traded furs with the Kaska, Sekani, and Dene-Thah nations. It closed in 1875. A recreation reserve was established in 1966 over the area from the highway upstream for 3-4 km on both sides of the river. A series of river terraces extend from the highway to the falls, a distance of about 3 km. The Area was identified in the Fort Nelson Land and Resource Management Plan (1997) as a Goal 2 Protected Area.
- Cultural Heritage: Smith River/Fort Halkett Park overlaps with the traditional territories of the Kaska Dena culture of the Lower Post First Nations.
- Conservation: The Park represents features of the Liard Plain ecosection. It is located in the boreal white and black spruce biogeoclimatic zone.
- Wildlife: Moose are abundant in the area and are readily observed in the park. Wood bison can occasionally be seen in the area along the highway corridor. The Smith River contains good populations of bull trout and arctic grayling. Longnose sucker and slimy sculpins are also found in the river.
Activities Available at this Park
Access to the river from the day use area is not very good and not worth the short trip on the river. Most paddlers access the waterway via Liard River. For a great day trip, you can canoe about 34 km down the Smith River to the Liard River. At the Hwy 97 bridge over the Smith River, paddle a short distance down the Smith River to the Liard River and then down the Liard River highway bridge at Liard River Hot Springs. The trip is rated a Class 1 with easy access to the rivers from the highway with no portages. Take time to explore the interesting side drainages and fishing for Artic Grayling and Bull trout where smaller tributaries flow in the Liard.
Park visitors should be aware that the Grand Canyon on the Liard River contains sections of severe rapids (Class IV and higher). River travel in that area is only recommended for experienced paddlers.