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Backcountry camping

Backcountry camping is available at four locations: Spectrum Lake, Little Peters Lake, Big Peters Lake, and Margie Lake. The backcountry camping fee is in effect at these locations. 

Backcountry camping fee: $5 per person per night (age 6+)

The BC Parks backcountry permit registration service allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. Although this does not reserve a campsite, it provides the convenience of prepaying for your trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.

Spectrum Lake, the largest campground in the park, is 6 km from the Spectrum Creek trailhead and parking lot. There are 16 sites spread out along the lakeshore and up-slope. Each site has a 10 ft x 10 ft wooden tent platform or framed earth pad, a fire ring, and a picnic table. Some sites also have a small wooden shelter with cedar shake roof over the picnic table. There are several of pit toilets. 

Spectrum Lake provides a great introduction to the backcountry experience for less experienced campers. The understory is sparse, with most of the ground carpeted by moss. A metal food cache pole is located at each end of the campground. 

5 km uphill from Spectrum Lake, or 11 km from the Spectrum Creek trailhead and parking lot, Little Peters Lake is a much smaller backcountry campground. Two framed-earth tent pads and a pit toilet are provided for those who choose the edge of the sub-alpine meadow as their overnight stop. 

Big Peters Lake is the largest campground in the sub-alpine, located 13 km from the Spectrum Creek trailhead and parking lot, or 4km from Little Peters. There are 10 wooden tent platforms or framed-earth pads spread out amongst the trees on the southern end of the lake. There is a metal food cache box, a bear pole, and a pit toilet. 

The surrounding area is mostly open meadows and wetlands with large pockets of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. Big Peters campground affords a staging area for those interested in exploring the alpine areas of the park including Mt. Fosthall, Fawn Lake, and Valley of the Moon. 

Margie Lake, a further 5 km from Big Peters Lake, is the final campground in the subalpine area of the park. It features two framed-earth tent pads, and pit toilet, and a bear pole. Margie Lake is often used by those hiking over the Fosthall ridge from Sol Mountain Lodge, or up the North Fosthall Creek trail.

Group camping

Spectrum Lake group campsite is found approximately 100 m from the main campground, on the northeast side of the lake. There are six tent pads as well as a pit toilet. Visitors will find a large, covered picnic table shelter offering a place to keep dry, though it does not have a stove. This area is in a thick cedar forest with a meandering stream running through.

Use of these facilities is on a first come, first serve basis. Reservations are not accepted. 

Wilderness camping

Wilderness camping is permitted in other areas of the park without a backcountry permit. Campers must practice Leave no trace ethics. The park is open year-round, if accessible. 

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Campfires are permitted within fire rings at Spectrum Lake campground only. Bring a portable stove for cooking. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented and some parks may use communal fire rings.

Picnic areas

This park has a day-use and picnic area at Rainbow Falls. There is a 15 car gravel parking lot with one pit toilet and an information shelter beside the trail to Spectrum Lake. 

The other trail leaving the parking lot is a steep, well defined trail that leads down to the falls. Wet areas are covered with boardwalk and footbridges. There are no picnic tables at the falls or in the parking lot. There are two wooden viewing platforms below the falls offering a spectacular view.

Pit or flush toilets

There are three pit toilets at Spectrum Lake campground, one at the Spectrum Lake group site, and one pit toilet each at Little Peters, Big Peters and Margie Lake campgrounds. There is also one at the Spectrum Creek trailhead.

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This undeveloped mountain wilderness is a wonderful adventure for experienced, backcountry hikers. There are also trails for beginners. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.

Trails to Spectrum Lake Area (all trail times are one way)

Spectrum Creek Parking Lot

Distance: 6 kmTime: 2 hoursRating: Easy

This is the most common access. The trail surface has been improved, widened to three feet and hardpacked for most of its length. There are well maintained boardwalks and bridges across streams and wet areas. It passes through a mixed forest of Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, birch and some cedar and hemlock. Mountain bikes are not permitted.

Trails to Alpine Areas (from Spectrum Lake)

Little Peters Trail

Distance: 5 kmTime: 3 to 4 hoursRating: Difficult

This is the most difficult section of trail in the park. It winds its way up out of the Spectrum Lake basin gaining elevation rapidly through steep switchbacks. The trail is narrow and passes through sections of very rocky terrain found in avalanche chutes that are thick with alder. These sections can be slippery when wet and require caution. The climb does allow for some great views back down to Spectrum Lake and of the Chute, which is the outlet for Peters Lake that forms a waterfall as it cascades down the headwall towards Spectrum Lake far below.

Big Peters Trail

Distance: 9 kmTime: 4 to 5 hoursRating: DifficultNote: Elevation change 800 m

This is a continuation of the Little Peters Trail to the camping area at the other end of Peters Lake. The bulk of the elevation has been gained upon reaching Little Peters Lake and the remainder of the trail follows the rolling subalpine terrain through patches Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir forest on the southeast side of Big Peters Lake.

Alpine Routes (from Big Peters)

These routes for experienced hikers are not always well defined. Map reading skills are an asset.

Margie LakeDistance: 5 kmTime: 1.5 to 2 hoursRating: Easy 
Fawn LakeDistance: 4 kmTime: 1.5 to 2 hoursRating: ModerateNote: Elevation change 300 m
South Caribou PassDistance: 3 kmTime: 1.5 to 2 hoursRating: Difficult 
Mount FosthallDistance: 5.2 kmTime: 3 to 4 hoursRating: DifficultNote: Elevation change 1000 m, technical equipment may be required 

Visitors can enjoy fishing for rainbow trout. Peters Lake has numerous fish though they are generally smaller than those found in Spectrum Lake. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.

Wildlife viewing

There are two viewing platforms at Rainbow Falls. 

One is found extended out over Spectrum Creek just downstream from the falls to give visitors a beautiful, unobstructed view of the entire falls. The second platform is perched on the rocks nearer the falls bringing the visitor closer to the enormous power of the rushing water. Spray from the falls drifts over both platforms to feed the mossy forest below. The platforms may be slippery if wet. 

Lucky visitors may get a glimpse of the rare mountain caribou or wolverine or the much more common mule deer, ground squirrels and pikas.

Horseback riding
Horseback riding is permitted

Mount Fosthall and Slate Mountain offer climbing and scrambling opportunities.