British Columbia: Peace River -- Wokkpash Recreation Area


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Wokkpash Recreation Area


Wilderness and wonderment are two reasons why people visit the Peace River Alaska Highway region of British Columbia. This part of the province offers the ultimate in mountain scenery and backcountry hiking at its finest. The Wokkpash Recreation Area is fast becoming world famous as a top notch wilderness hiking excursion.

Overview:

Dinosaurs once roamed this land but no more! Today we see towns and cities, fertile prairie land, towering mountains, alpine meadows, pine and spruce forests, glacier fed lakes, rivers and streams. The Peace River Alaska Highway region is also miles and miles of wilderness where the wildlife is plentiful and the pioneer spirit prevails. The people here are just naturally friendly. To preserve that which is unique to this part of B.C. are provincial parks and recreational areas. Some are small roadside sites that are found along the highway and others are large, unexplored, wilderness areas. One such place is the Wokkpash Recreation Area that borders Stone Mountain Provincial Park.

Be Prepared:

Before doing any back country hiking, make careful preparation for the excursion. Plan the trip, find out as much as possible about the trails and area you wish to hike. Always practice back country ethics and no trace camping, meaning after breaking camp, there should be no sign of human usage. A standard in any backcountry area is "garbage in, garbage out." Do not bury any garbage, as wild animals will dig it up. Use a camp stove for cooking and not an open fire.


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About Wokkpash Recreation Area:

Stone Mountain Provincial Park and Wokkpash Recreation Area are 140 km (87 mi.) west of Fort Nelson along the Alaska Highway. The Wokkpash Trek is designated as a route only, short sections have been upgraded, but most of the route is old guide and game trails. There are no bridges across the streams and no sign posts with directions. This backcountry hike is for experienced backpackers.

The region offers two backcountry hikes. Wokkpash Valley hike is the shorter 25 km (15.5 mi.) trail that will take from two to four days to complete. It follows Wokkpash Creek past the hoodoo lined gorge and heads to Wokkpash Lake. The longer 70 km (43.4 mi.) route that can take from four to seven days to complete takes in Wokkpash Valley and MacDonald Creek areas. A large population of wild animals such as moose, black and grizzly bears, caribou, mountain goats, stone sheep, wolves, mule deer and wolverines call this part of B.C. home. Using animal proof containers for food is essential. Hang food using rope and pulleys every night. When hiking in bear country, make plenty of noise, this will help eliminate any surprise encounters.

Although there are many creek beds in the Wokkpash region, they can be dry and good water can be hard to find, carry plenty of water. Be careful of flash floods after periods of heavy rain, so allow for an extended stay of two to three days longer should this happen. Backpacking stoves for cooking should be part of the equipment, as firewood is not always available and pack out all the garbage. Before hiking the Wokkpash, brush up on map and compass skills. Never hike alone. Always let someone know where you are going and for how long.

Access:

Two different trailheads lead into this area, but the most popular one starts from km 645 (mi. 400) on the Alaska Highway. The Old Churchill Mine Road is the access for both the shorter and longer backcountry treks and is for four wheel drive vehicles. Other options include walking in or using the private shuttle service.

Hiking the Wokkpash Valley:

Hike in a southeasterly direction along the east side of Wokkpash Creek for approximately 12 km (7.4 mi.). Leave the creek bed, hike through the tress to above Wokkpash Gorge and the famous hoodoos. Take time out to admire these great formations of hard rock that wind and rain has eroded. The hoodoos edge Wokkpash Creek for about 5 km (3 mi.). Make camp anywhere along Wokkpash Creek (except in the gorge) or continue to Forlorn Creek, but it makes for a long day. Not far from Forlorn Creek is Forlorn Gorge. This wonder of nature is a canyon that is 25 meters (80 ft.) wide and 150 meters (490 ft.) deep and is an amazing sight. From Forlorn Creek continue hiking on the east side of Wokkpash Lake. Hiking here is easy, but has no suitable spots for camping until Plug Creek, which is at the far end of the lake. Forlorn Creek to Plug Creek is a hike of approximately four to five hours.

Hiking the MacDonald Creek Section:

The next part of the route is from Plug Creek to Last Call Lake and the camping at Forlorn Lake. Follow the trail markers and cairns of the new trail that leads above the northwest side of Plug Creek. Continue as the trail contours around into the valley and heads to the east side of Whitestone Ridge. This trek will take from five to six hours. Good camping is available in the alpine valley before Last Call Lake where camping is difficult. Forlorn Lake offers good camping and is just southwest of Last Call Lake.

Maintain the elevation, stay on the east side of the gully. Hike in a north east direction for about 5 km (3 mi.) to the place that overlooks the confluence with MacDonald Creek. Head down and cross the creek, follow the creek on the east side for about 2 km (1.2 mi.) till coming to a major tributary from the east. Now start following the horse trail for the next 4 km (2.5 mi.), then cross to the west side. Continue the trail for about 6 km (3.7 mi.) until the Alaska Highway comes into view. It is time to start looking for a good place to get across the creek and up to the highway. On this last portion of the trek, between Last Call Lake and the Alaska highway, several old horse camps are good camping spots.

Stone Mountain Provincial Park:

If limited for time and not an experienced backcountry hiker, Stone Mountain Provincial Park offers trails that are more suitable. One such hike is to Flower Springs Lake. This 5 km (3 mi.) return trip will take from two to three house and is suitable for most hikers. Like other northern provincial parks, wildlife is abundant here, so always have the camera ready. Keep your distance and never feed or disturb wild animals. Please help protect the environment by keeping to designated trails and always practice good backcountry ethics when hiking in British Columbia. Be safe, have fun!


For more information contact:
B.C. Parks
10003 - 110 Avenue
Fort St. John, B.C. V1J 6M7
Phone: (250) 787-3407
Fax: (250) 787-3490

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British Columbia: Peace River -- Wokkpash Recreation Area