Hikes in Wells Gray Provincial Park
With nearly 5,500km² of breathtaking British Columbia terrain within its borders, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a perfect destination for those looking to explore a pristine stretch of wilderness that is far removed from the crowds of other popular parks in the province. Nicknamed “Canada’s Waterfalls Park”, Wells Gray is home to 41 named waterfalls and countless others that are unnamed, but none more spectacular than Helmcken Falls - the fourth tallest in Canada with a 141m vertical drop. Highlighted by the picturesque surroundings of countless mountains and gorgeous alpine meadows, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a strong contender for one of the most beautiful locales in BC.
While the park is fairly remote, it is also easily accessible from Kamloops, making it a great option for a variety of outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. Hiking trails here range from easy routes for beginners to challenging summit hikes for the experienced outdoorsman, while all feature the stunning backcountry terrain that makes this region so appealing. Whether you are just dipping your toes into the world of hiking or have been at it for years, a trip to Wells Gray Provincial Park is a sure fire way to leave the chaos of the outside world behind and reconnect with the beauty of nature.
10 Amazing Hikes In Wells Gray Provincial Park
A hiking trip in Wells Gray Provincial Park is a fascinating experience that will allow you to both explore the vast, untamed wilderness of British Columbia, as well as delve into the rich history of the people who initially settled in this remote region. Countless trails will expose you to the natural beauty of a landscape that is filled with dramatic mountain peaks, gorgeous alpine meadows, torrenting rivers, and cascading waterfalls, while others will provide an insight into the rugged terrain and harsh realities of backcountry living that made life challenging for early homesteaders. Whether you are looking to reconnect with nature or explore the storied past of the region, you will be sure to find the perfect hiking trail to meet all of your needs. Check out this list of 10 of our favourite hiking routes in Wells Gray Provincial Park below:
- Helmcken Falls: This quick hike is a 1.0 km lollipop route that will take you to a viewpoint overlooking the 4th tallest waterfall in Canada. Well-maintained paths and stunning views make this a perfect route for all ages and skill levels.
- Spahats Falls: Another amazing waterfall hike, this trail will take you through a beautiful stretch of forest along the edge of a canyon overlooking Clearwater Valley. The main highlight of this hike is a two-tiered waterfall that can be accessed by a shorter trail from the main parking lot for those that don’t want to complete the entire journey.
- Moul Falls Trail: A family-friendly hike that is suitable for all ages and skill levels, this trail will take you to a stunning waterfall within Wells Gray Provincial Park. Make sure to check out the misty cave behind the falls for a bit of added fun.
- Dawson Falls: This quick adventure will take you along the scenic Murtle River to two viewpoints overlooking a waterfall that resembles a mini Niagara Falls. This fantastic hike is a great way to get acquainted with the natural beauty of the park.
- Murtle Lagoon: A wonderful hike through the forest, the Murtle Lagoon Trail will bring you to a lagoon that is a popular destination for a variety of water sports. Nearby campgrounds make this a great spot to spend a few days outdoors while exploring a number of trails in the area.
- Canim Falls Trail: This short hike is a 2.3 km out-and-back through a stretch of woodland terrain that offers hikers the chance to visit both the Mahood and Canim Falls. For the effort, this is a fantastic hike with some amazing views, especially if it is completed in the spring when higher water levels create a dramatic effect.
- Trophy Meadows Trail: One of the more popular intermediate length routes within the park, the Trophy Meadows Trail will take you up into the mountains for stunning views overlooking gorgeous meadows and lakes. A good variety of terrain and fairly straightforward trails make this perfect for casual and experienced hikers alike.
- Bailey's Chute: Yet another waterfall hike within the park, the trail to Bailey’s Chute will take you through the forest along the edge of the Clearwater River for some amazing views overlooking the torrenting waters.
- Helmcken Falls Rim Trail: An alternate route overlooking the stunning Helmcken Falls, this trail will take you along the edge of the canyon for an 8km journey through the park. This route is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, just remember to exercise caution due to steep drop offs.
- Triple Decker Falls: This super short trail near Clearwater will lead you through a peaceful forest setting to reach a beautifully scenic three-tiered waterfall. Don’t let the 0.8 km overall distance fool you, as there are some steep climbs along this route.
The trek to Triple Decker Falls utilizes a 0.8 km out-and-back hiking route near Clearwater, BC that passes through a charming stretch of forest to arrive at a viewpoint overlooking the falls. Along the trail you will experience a peaceful forest setting that stands in contrast to the rushing water that cascades off the three tiers of the waterfall. Although the trail is short, it is also a fairly steep climb, so be prepared to break a quick sweat if you want to see the falls and borrow one of the hiking poles near the beginning of the trail if you need to.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Wells Gray Provincial Park?
The diversity in both landscapes and wildlife that can be found in Wells Gray Provincial Park make it tough to pinpoint the best time to visit the region on a hiking trip. While the best window is in the May-October range, this can be further broken down depending on your reasons for visiting the park. Although the trails will likely still be a bit on the soft and wet side, May-June is a great time to visit the park if you are hoping to spot a wide variety of wildlife species at their most active time of year. Hiking here in July-August is the best time to experience the stunning alpine meadows, as they are usually enhanced by the colourful wildflowers that blanket vast swathes of terrain. Finally, September-October is a great time to visit the park, as temperatures drop slightly but are still warm enough to remain comfortable on the trail. Additionally, there won’t be as many bugs or other hikers on the trail, meaning you can explore the majority of the park in solitude.
Other Outdoor Activities in Wells Gray Provincial Park
While hiking is certainly the main recreational activity in Wells Gray Provincial Park, other sports are also popular and allow visitors to explore the beautiful terrain of the region from a different perspective. Those that enjoy water sports, such as canoeing and kayaking, will be pleased with the many lakes and rivers that can be explored, while anglers will find a number of peaceful retreats to cast a few lines. Horseback riding is another popular way to traverse the rugged terrain of the park, as are snowshoeing and cross country skiing during the winter months.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wells Gray Provincial Park
How many waterfalls are in Wells Gray Provincial Park?
Nicknamed “Canada’s Waterfalls Park”, Wells Gray is home to 41 named waterfalls, as well as countless others located along more remote creeks and waterways.
How far is Wells Gray Provincial Park from Kamloops?
Wells Gray Provincial Park is an approximately 1.5 hour drive north of Kamloops, making it an easily accessible option for a hiking day trip.
Best Hikes in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Hiking to Helmcken Falls is a quick adventure that will take you along a 1.0 km lollipop route to a viewpoint overlooking the falls. Along the trail, you will pass through a lovely forest setting and experience some amazing views looking out across the gorge to the western escarpment of the Murtle Plateau and the torrenting water of Helmcken Falls. This trail features easily traversable terrain and is well-suited for hikers of all skill levels.
The trek to Spahats Falls follows a 3.1 km out-and-back trail that will take you along the edge of a canyon to reach several viewpoints overlooking the waterfall. Along the trail, you will experience a serene forest setting, views across the Clearwater Valley, and of course the two-tiered waterfall that stands at roughly 75 m tall. If you aren’t looking to complete the entire hike, you can utilize the main parking lot for a shorter trip to the viewpoint overlooking the falls.
Moul Falls Trail
Hiking the Moul Falls Trail is a great family-friendly adventure in Wells Gray Provincial Park that takes you to a viewpoint overlooking a beautiful waterfall. This 5.5 km out-and-back trail is made up of fairly easy terrain and can be completed by hikers of most skill levels; however, the descent to the falls is a bit steep and slippery so make sure to wear proper hiking footwear and watch your footing. For an added bit of adventure on this hike, make sure to head into the cave behind the falls to get the full misty experience of the water crashing down onto the rocks.
The trek to Dawson Falls is a short 1.4 km out-and-back trail that will take you to two separate viewpoints from which you can view this scenic waterfall. The trail meanders through a wonderful forest setting along the edge of the Murtle River until you arrive at the vantage point overlooking the horseshoe-shaped waterfall that is reminiscent of a miniature Niagara Falls. With a short overall distance, well-maintained trails, and breathtaking views; this trail is a perfect way to start your adventure in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
The Murtle Lagoon trail is a 4.6 km out-and-back hiking route in Wells Gray Provincial Park that will take you through a charming stretch of forest terrain to the edge of a small lagoon that is popular with water sports enthusiasts. The trail is well-maintained and made up of east-going terrain, making it a suitable route for hikers of all skill levels. For those looking to spend a few days camping in the area, try heading a little further west to get to the Murtle Lagoon North and South campgrounds.
Canim Falls Trail
The Canim Falls Trail is a 2.3 km out-and-back hiking route in Wells Gray Provincial Park that will take you to viewpoints overlooking two breathtaking waterfalls. Along the trail, you will hike through the forest alongside the Canim River to first reach the scenic Mahood Falls before continuing onto the picturesque Canim Falls. Try timing this hike for the spring when water levels are higher and the falls are even more magnificent.
Trophy Meadows Trail
The Trophy Meadows Trail is a 10.5 km out-and-back hiking route in Wells Gray Provincial Park that will take you uphill through various types of terrain to a viewpoint overlooking Sheila Lake before descending down to its calm shores. Along the trail, you will hike through a beautiful subalpine meadow and traverse a small ridge, where you will have some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. For the moderate amount of effort required, this is a fantastic day-hike from Clearwater that should be on your list.
The trek to Bailey’s Chute follows a 1.3 km out-and-back hiking route that will take you along the edge of the Clearwater River to a waterfall with rapids. Along the trail, you will be able to experience a peaceful forest setting that contrasts with the powerful river before taking in the sights of the torrenting water crashing over the rocks. For very little effort, this is an amazingly scenic route that can be enjoyed by hikers of every skill level.
Helmcken Falls Rim Trail
The Helmcken Falls Rim Trail is an 8km out-and-back hiking route that will take you along the edge of the canyon for scenic views of the falls. Measured by its straight drop of 141 m without a break, Helmcken Falls is Canada’s fourth tallest waterfall, making it a must-see if you find yourself in Wells Gray Provincial Park. With well-maintained trails and easy roadside access, this route is perfectly suited for hikers of all skill levels; just make sure to give yourself plenty of space from the edge of the lookout for safety reasons.
Triple Decker Falls Trail
The trek to Triple Decker Falls utilizes a 0.8 km out-and-back hiking route near Clearwater, BC that passes through a charming stretch of forest to arrive at a viewpoint overlooking the falls. Along the trail, you will experience a peaceful forest setting that stands in contrast to the rushing water that cascades off the three tiers of the waterfall. Although the trail is short, it is also a fairly steep climb, so be prepared to break a quick sweat if you want to see the falls and borrow one of the hiking poles near the beginning of the trail if you need to.
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