Mackenzie Heritage Trail
British Columbia, Canada
Long before North America was discovered by the Europeans, there
was a network of trails that the aboriginal people used for trade
and travel from the west coast into the interior of British
Columbia. One of the many staple trading items was the Eulachon
(oolichan), a small fish that was dried or rendered into fat.
This Eulachon grease was carried inland along trails that are
now called "grease trails".
first European to make the trek across the North American continent
was Alexander Mackenzie as he
searched for the Northwest Passage. Mackenzie's trek in 1793,
preceded the famous Lewis and Clark expedition by twelve years.
Alexander Mackenzie, who was born in Scotland in 1764, worked
in the fur trade business for the North West Company, and by the
year 1779 he was in command of the Athabasca country. Mackenzie
made Fort Chipewyan on the shores of Lake Athabasca the base for
exploring a water route to the Pacific.
the fall of 1792, Mackenzie and his party left Fort Chipewyan
in their search for the North West Passage. After wintering at
Fort Fork (close to the Peace River) on May 9th, 1793 Alexander
Mackenzie, his party of nine men and one canoe started on their
trek up the Peace River to the fork of the Finlay and Parsnip
Rivers. They took the Parsnip River, crossed the continental divide,
and eventually canoed down the Fraser River to Alexandria just
south of Quesnel. On the advice of local First Nations people,
who guided Mackenzie and his party to the Pacific Ocean, they
gave up the river route for an overland one. The overland journey
started just above the mouth of the Blackwater
River (West Road River) west of Quesnel
taking them through the Upper Blackwater, along the Eliguk and
Gatcho Lakes, through parts of what is now Tweedsmuir
Park, over the Rainbow
Mountains, into the Bella Coola Valley
and "Friendly Village". The local people took the group down the
Bella Coola River, over the salt water into the Dean
Channel and on
a rock, Mackenzie inscribed the following, "Alexander Mackenzie,
from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand,
seven hundred and ninety-three."
Information & Services
Escott Bay Resort: The adventure starts with fishing, hiking, horseback trail riding, pack trips and hunting – and with the snow comes x-country skiing & snowmobiling. Located between Tweedsmuir and Itcha Ilgachuz Parks, we offer fully serviced cabins and camping facilities. more
Euchiniko Lakes Ranch: Enjoy flyfishing the famous Blackwater River, packhorse trips or riding wilderness trails, big-game hunting, canoeing or hike the historic Alexander Mackenzie Trail. There’s something for everyone at Euchiniko Lakes Ranch including a relaxing camp fire. more
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Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail was designated as a heritage
trail under the Heritage Conservation Act and as a forest recreation
trail under the Forest Act, in 1987. This trail located in the Cariboo
Chilcotin Coast region of British Columbia, is a 450 km (279 mi.)
long corridor that starts at the mouth of the Blackwater river,
just west of Quesnel and stretches all the way to the Sir Alexander
Mackenzie Provincial Park in the Dean Channel. It is made up of
highways, forest access roads, local wagon roads, rivers and coastal
waters. At the east end trail head, sections of the trail are actual
gravel forest roads, further west they turn into horse trails and
wagon roads. This area is intersected with parts of the original
trail. It becomes an alpine trail in Tweedsmuir park, then a paved
highway, a river and finally a fjord. This important historic trail
tells the story of the aboriginal people dating back 6000 years.
There are some 120 recorder prehistoric archaeological sites near
the trail and 260 within a mile or two. The history story continues,
as it relates to the fur trading, the gold rush, ranching, guiding,
fishing and forestry in this region.
the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail / Nuxalk-Carrier Grease
Complete 450 km (279 mi.) Hike:
To reach The Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail from Quesnel
( on Highway 97) take the Moffat Bridge over the Fraser River to
West Quesnel. Turn right heading to Bouchie
Lake. From Bouchie Lake turn right on the Blackwater Road going
by Pantage Lake to lower Blackwater bridge. The original trail starts
where the Blackwater River meets the Fraser River.
heritage trail takes you to some very interested spots such as Punchaw
Lake, Blackwater Bridge, Gillies Crossing, Titetown, and Pan Meadows.
The trail follows along Euchiniko Lake and into the Kluskus Lakes
territory as you head into the Upper Blackwater. As it continues
it will take you by Eliguk Lake, Gatcho Lake, Dean River crossing,
Tanya Lakes, into the Mackenzie Valley, Burnt Bridge Creek and into
the Bella Coola Valley. This 450 km (279 mi.) hike is extremely
strenuous, time consuming and for experts. The hike will take you
three weeks, so be well prepared and completely self reliant. Parts
of the hike through Tweedsmuir Provincial Park are isolated, so
it is best to hike with at least three people Be prepared for the
worst possible weather conditions and pack as light as possible.
One food supply drop halfway is essential, make these arrangements
well in advance.
There are numerous shorter hiking trips you can take. Make use of
the fly-in or fly-out excursion trips available. Drive out to Nimpo
Lake on Highway 20 and fly out to Pan's fish camp or one of the
other camps and hike the assorted trails, or hike west to the Dean
River, Mackenzie Pass to the Bella Coola Valley. Another suggestion
is to hike out from the trail head at the Lower Blackwater River
and make arrangements to be picked up at Eliguk Lake, Gatcho Lake
or Tanya Lakes.
or Day Trips:
There are several excellent day or weekend hiking trips you can
take that start in the Lower Blackwater River region. There's the
Lower Blackwater Bridge day trip that includes sections of the Mackenzie
Trail and the Telegraph Trails. The Euchiniko River Loop Trails
can be a day trip, or make it a weekend hike. Another day trip is
the drive through the Nazko Valley. The Old Kluskus Road is a four-wheel
drive day trip between Lower Blackwater Bridge and Gillies Crossing.
An excellent day hike at Bella Coola is the Valley Loop Trail. This
hike of 5 km (3.1 mi.) starts at Burnt Bridge Creek and in part
follows the Mackenzie Heritage Trail.
Horseback trips and rubber-tired wagon trips can be arranged through
packers in the Cariboo or Chilcotin.
Much of the Blackwater River Route has been used by horse and wagon
since the late 1890's, and many of these trails are still in use.
appeal of the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail/Nuxalk-Carrier
Grease Trail means the opportunity to hike, backpack, or horseback
ride a remote historic trail and walk in the footsteps of Alexander
Mackenzie, the voyageurs and aboriginal people.
more information contact: Quesnel Forest Office
322 Johnston Avenue
Quesnel, B.C. V2J 3M5
Phone (250) 992-4400