Wells Gray Provincial Park: Backcountry Areas

The backcountry areas of Wells Gray Park offer hiking to suit a wide variety of abilities and interests, user-maintained wilderness camping, with opportunities for canoeing, fishing, exploring and wildlife viewing. Most trails are located within the southern third of the park – north of that, visitors must be adept at map-and-compass orienteering. All hikers, whether day-trip or overnight, should be completely self-sufficient, and have advised friends and family of proposed route and time of return. The Provincial Emergency Program created an excellent form, Trip Plan for Outdoor Survival – please use it! Forms can be picked up at the Information Centre or from the R.C.M.P.

Green Mountain Canyonlands

This trail system is the only one in Wells Gray open to horse use, with guided rides available. Access points are the Flatiron and White Horse Bluffs trailheads, with circle hikes possible. Some excellent wilderness camping sites along the Clearwater River; note that everybody is restricted to camping in specific sites only. Trail maps are posted at all trailheads and junctions. The trail system is approximately 40 km total length.

Battle Mountain

This high elevation area can be hiked as a loop trail, approximately 30 km total length. Leaving your vehicle at the first parking area on the Battle Mountain road (2.5 km from the Wells Gray Park road) take the Battle Creek trail. The lower half of the trail is dry, but steep switchbacks with loose rock make hiking time slow. Approximately 11 km from trailhead to Fight Lake Meadows camping area, a small public-use cabin is located behind a cluster of trees – not bug-proof, but adequate shelter in bad weather.

If used in the winter, skiers may have to dig to find it – be sure to clear all snow from the chimney before lighting the fire! Don’t confuse this very simple structure with the chalet at the base of 52 Ridge, owned by a company offering guided hiking and skiing trips through this area. Fight Lake provides a good base camp for exploring 52 Ridge, and the expansive Cariboo Meadows, noted for wild flower displays in July and early August. From Fight Meadows, follow the trail south to Philip Lake, returning to the Battle Mountain road via a steep trail along the Philip Creek drainage. Return to your vehicle by hiking 5 km down the road. This upper section is not suitable for anything less than a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive. Hikers must be prepared for mountain weather with white-out conditions. Carry insect repellent and water.

Pyramid Mountain and Pyramid Lakes

From a parking area near Pyramid Campground, a 6.5 km trail leads to a campsite on the Murtle River. A side trail leads to Pyramid Lakes, noted for ice-fishing in winter months. The wilderness campsite is located just north of Pyramid Mountain. This campsite has no facilities but is located across the river from an impressive lava cliff and has a deep swimming hole in which to cool off.  The main trail skirts the base of Pyramid Mountain, there is a side trail leading to the summit, providing panoramic views of the south end of Wells Gray Park. Pyramid Mountain is a Tuya, a volcano that erupted under a glacier approximately 11,000 years ago. Make sure to carry water as there is none available until the Murtle River at 6.5 km. This trail can be a hot spot for mosquitos so it is a good idea to carry insect repellent.

Trophy Mountain

The most easily accessed of Wells Gray’s backcountry areas, with spectacular wild flower displays in July and August. Follow Roads 80, 10, and 201 from the Wells Gray Park Road, with a handout available at the Wells Gray Information Centre in Clearwater to guide your way. From the parking lot, a 1 km hike leads to the sub-alpine meadows, with an additional 1.5 km taking visitors to Sheila Lake. Hikers seeking panoramic views can continue on to Skyline Ridge (12 km round trip from the parking lot). Be prepared for sudden changes in weather, carry insect repellent and water, and watch for bear sign – the slopes of Trophy are important grizzly habitat. The alpine environment is so fragile and slow to recover from damage it is important to ensure that everyone stays on the trail, camp in the designated site only, light no open fires, carry out everything you bring in, and if you must bring your dog, keep it on a leash and on the trail at all times.