Discover the Kitimat Range of BC's Coast Mountains
From peaking out extraordinary mountains, to fishing for salmon in the Pacific, get away from the crowded parks in Canada and go find adventures of solitude in the Kitimat Range of British Columbia's Coast Mountains.
If you're reading this article you obviously enjoy nature and adventure, and there's probably a good chance you've made a journey to the stunning Canadian rockies along the British Columbia-Alberta border. You can comprehend the beauty and majestic scenery that the area has to offer. But you also remember the madness of tourists crowding the national parks in the summer. You remember a serene lakeside sunrise being interrupting by loud children. You remember frustration that comes with strict pet rules in a natural place slowly turning into an amusement park. Well if you're like me, then the pro side of amazing landscapes can only outweigh the cons of a crowded national park for so long. So where's the spot that can offer the same epic views and splendid nature without the crowds? For a month this past summer, I found a wild adventurous sanctuary in the Kitimat Range of the Coast Mountains in British Columbia.
If you love adventure, and haven't made it to the Coast Mountains then I can assure you that you're missing out on a truly epic land. The Coast Mountains Range runs the length of western British Columbia and is made up of three subdivisions; the Pacific Range, the Kitimat Range, and the Boundary Range. The Pacific Range is the most frequently visited of the three, since it's the most southern one and holds the likes of Garibaldi Provincial Park and Whistler, with the metropolis of Vancouver at it's base. The Boundary Range is the northwest section of British Columbia that runs along the Alaska-Canada border and most of it is impossible to access by car. The Kitimat Range is a perfect balance of the other subdivisions because as wild and expansive as it is, there is also a large enough population spread throughout the area to make a lot of the range accessible along with well maintained backcountry trails. To get here is long, but easy. Simply drive to the center of British Columbia, Prince George, then drive a quick 600 kilometers west to the town of Terrace.
The Kitimat Range has some similarities to the National Parks in the Rockies as in being able to drive scenic highways and enjoy views from the road, but the truly incredible views have to be earned. The Coast mountains are a lower elevation than the rockies and so the forest growth is much higher, which means you usually have to hike at least 3 miles of switchbacks through the forest before you get the great alpine views. This tends to weed out the tourists and make the hikes nice and empty. For the majority of the hikes I did in the Kitimat Range I came across no other hikers, and never saw more than a handful of people on a trail the few occasions I did come across other people.
If you're an avid fisherman then you'll fit right in with the locals. Whether it's fly fishing along the Skeena river and one of it's thousands of adjoining creeks, or big reel fishing in the Pacific for Salmon and Halibat, you can be sure to get your fix. Terrace is the largest town in the heart of the Kitimat range, but seems like more of just the central hub for all the coastal mountaineers to reload. Follow along the Skeena river to the Ocean and you'll find Prince Rupert, one of the biggest ports in western Canada. It's the main ferry port for people trying to get to southeast Alaska islands and big community of fishermen.
The people are friendly, the weather is amazing in the summer, and the adventures are limitless. From exploring Nisga'a lava beds, to peaking out extrordinary mountains, and from fishing in the ocean to backpacking through forests, the Kitimat Range has everything you need for a good time outside. Go get lost in the true northwest, hike your way up to alpine then just go where you see fit and pitch camp where you feel good. Lose cell service for a few days while you inhale the freedom these desolate mountains provide, then come out feeling more rejuvenated than ever before. Just remember to bring bear spray.
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.