Trails and campgrounds in the Northwest wind through lush, old-growth forest and along mountains, lakes, rivers and the ocean. The region makes up a third of the entire province, which means there’s plenty of space for you—and your fellow campers and hikers. Off-grid recreation areas let you ditch the nine-to-five and embrace a different kind of connection, while urban parks and campgrounds are easy to access but don’t skimp on views. Families will find kid-friendly playgrounds and easy nature walks, and for RVers, good amenities and generous-sized sites. For those looking for solitude on a grand scale, multi-day backcountry treks through some of BC’s most remote and wild parks are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Prince George is the largest city in the region and home to a network of hiking trails and campgrounds, all within reach of urban comforts and amenities. Many branch out right from the heart of the city, including Forests for the World. This community forest has over 15-kilometres of trails that criss-cross through urban greenery and along the shores of Shane Lake. The park connects with the Cranbrook Hill Greenway Trail, a multi-use seasonal trail that runs north to south along Prince George’s western city limits, and the popular Labrador Tea Trail, a moderate six-kilometre loop.
East of the city, Chun T’oh Whudujut/Ancient Forest is home to the only inland temperate rainforest in the world and towering, centuries-old cedars. Teapot Mountain is a short but rewarding hike with 360-degree views of the surrounding area. The 30-kilometres of trails at Pidherny are used by mountain bikes, runners, and dog walkers.
Parks and campgrounds make great basecamps for exploring the area’s trails. On the north shore of West Lake is a day-use park with amenities like picnic tables, volleyball nets and horseshoe pits. Well-frequented Purden Lake has 78 vehicle-accessible sites while quieter Buckhorn Lake is a rec site that promises solitude if you can snag one of the four available sites. Salmon Valley, located close to town, is a private campground situated along its namesake river, and a two-hour drive north to Carp Lake rewards paddlers with private island campsites with excellent rainbow trout fishing.
The Lakes District
The Lakes District provides endless entertainment for fishers, families and campers. Sprawl out on beachfront at Beaumont and Paarens Beach provincial parks. Ample towel space and sandy shores for swimming make this a heliophile’s ideal destination. Sowchea Bay near Fort St. James, and Takysie Lake both have scenic lakeside campsites while Agate and Kager Lake and Ootsa Landing are all small rec sites with good scenery and varying amenities. Francois Lake is the second longest lake in BC which means boaters and paddlers will find plenty of shoreline to cruise.
Prefer to stick to land? Hiking trails in the area reward with sweeping views of forest and mountains. Both Mouse Mountain and Fraser Mountain offer excellent views of Fraser Lake. In Burns Lake, Norse Creek trails end at a waterfall while an easy two-kilometre trail on Mount Pope leads to a small cave that you can peer into. For a more strenuous hike, tackle Shass Mountain, a nearly 10-kilometre ascent up the side of a mountain which overlooks Grassham Lake.
Houston is an underrated hiking destination, home to some unforgettable treks with spectacular views and unique geographical features. China Knows is a moderate trek that first winds through forest before cresting to a shocking 400-metre long granite cliff with sweeping views of the entire valley. Morice Mountain is another spectacular viewpoint, but the hike to get here is considerably more challenging. Sweeney Mountain offers easy access to the alpine. Follow its ridgeline to the peak for views of the mountain range. (Note: four-wheel drive is required to access the trailhead.) Need a place to stay for the night? There are several quiet campsites in the area, including Silverthorne, Hidden or Sunset lakes.
The mountains around Smithers are your own personal playground. Your reward for tackling treks in the area? Incredible views of glacier-fed lakes, steep peaks and sub-alpine meadows. The Babine Mountains Provincial Park is a popular destination with a multitude of trails that range from day hikes to overnight expeditions In mid-July, the meadows of Silver King Basin bloom in a blanket of colour. The trail also leads to Joe L’Orsa Cabin, a backcountry hut that sleeps 15-20 people comfortably.
Fire lookouts are remnants of BC’s forestry past, and only a handful still stand in the province today. There are even fewer that you can sleep in. The lookout in Hankin-Evelyn contains a fully equipped kitchen, can sleep eight to 10 people, and boasts incredible views of the Seven Sisters range. Crater Lake is a short out-and-back trail with easy access to the alpine above the ski area on Hudson Bay Mountain. Also on the mountain is Silvern Lakes, an eight-hour traverse that takes you in view of two crystal-clear lakes. Budding geologists will find plenty to explore in Driftwood Canyon, one of the world’s most significant fossil beds.
Tyhee Lake is one of the more popular campgrounds in the area, with a small beachfront, good swimming, and plenty of activities and amenities for kids. Mature trees border sites at Twin Falls campground while the family-friendly Riverside Park is a municipal campground located on the Bulkley River. Prefer something a bit more secluded? Check out Dennis Lake, a small lake with big views, a nice dock and forested sites. Kitseguecla and Taltzen lakes offer good canoeing and easy camping. RVers will find Witset RV Park and Campground easily located off Highway 16. The campsite stands on a plateau surrounded by snow-capped mountains, overlooking the beautiful Widzin Kwah Canyon. Panoramic glacier views await from the aptly named Glacier View RV and Cottages.
Alpine adventures await in Hazeltons’ rugged Rouche de Boule range. Hikes in the area can be steep and challenging but the rewards are great. The Blue Lakes Trail wows hikers with glassy turquoise lakes while the Hagwilget Trail is a full-day journey that leads to the base of the town’s most iconic peak. Skilokis Ridge is a short, steep ascent into the alpine and rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding valley and mountains.
If a tranquil forest stroll is more your speed, stretch your legs on the short path to New Hazelton Waterfall, or hike a bit further along the Lookout Trail for clear views of the town. In between hikes, rest your muscles at campgrounds including the ‘Ksan Campground, located right at the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley rivers, and steps away from the replica ‘Ksan Historical Village. The Hazelton Mountains form a beautiful backdrop for the campsites at Seeley Lake Provincial Park. Along the Upper Kispiox River, a small grassy field yields four campsites and a couple of outhouses for backcountry campers looking for space and solitude.
The 700-kilometre long Stewart-Cassiar highway cuts through a wild landscape, and a road trip in the area offers plenty of reasons to camp and explore trails. The Spatsizi Plateau is as wild as it gets. As one of Canada’s largest and most naturally significant parks, self-sufficient backcountry hikers will find everything from alpine camping to remote fishing and canoeing. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure park, with trails and portage routes that cross the entire plateau. To the northwest of Spatsizi is another wilderness gem: Mount Edziza. The park’s striking volcanic landscape is an otherworldly backdrop to a multi-day traverse. In Stewart, Sluice Box/Barneys Gulch Trail is a short scenic hike leading out of town to a viewpoint overlooking the town of Stewart and the Portland Canal.
Another good rest stop in the area is Kinaskan Lake, further up the Stewart-Cassiar, with good lakeside sites and fishing. Bring your canoe and access Cascade Falls, located at its south end, for a short hike to see the waterfalls. Todagin Mountain Trail offers excellent views of Kinaskan Lake from its summit. The out-and-back trail is accessible from the highway and is a fairly taxing climb to its plateau. Keep watch for mountain goats and other wildlife in the area. Where to stay? Both Meziadin Lake and Tā Ch’ilā Park / Boya Lake offer prime waterfront sites overlooking stunning lakes of varying turquoise blue hues. Morchuea Lake is an off-the-beaten path rec site south of Dease Lake and in sight of Mount Edziza.
Similarly, the summit of Mount Elizabeth is a well-earned destination for those making the arduous climb up. The mountain, which towers over town at 1,885 metres, shows off panoramic views of the entire Kitimat Valley and beyond. Prefer something flat? The North Cove and Mid-Cove trail is a leisurely stroll that gradually descends through the forest to two sheltered bays. Fisherman’s Trail is another local favourite. This one-way trail follows the Kitimat River and is considered moderate.
With both challenging and moderate hikes to conquer here, why not spend a week and tackle them all? Campgrounds in the area deliver no less views and make great places for rest and respite. Radley Park, with amenities for both RVers and campers, makes a great homebase. Hirsch Creek sits out of town and offers forested sites. The Upper Kitimat River and Enso are both rustic, user-maintained rec sites. West Lake has one of two spots available, but if you’re lucky to get one, an evening paddle awaits. Chist Creek is popular with climbers who come to boulder the area’s rock climbing routes.
Terrace and Nisga’a Territory
Terrace sits in the mild and temperate Skeena River Valley—which draws sun seekers and lakeside loungers to its trails and campsites come summer. The popular Sleeping Beauty Mountain is a relatively short hike into the sub-alpine while the five-kilometre Terrace Mountain and Flathead Loop leads to a rocky bluff with views overlooking the town. Hikers seeking an effort will want to tackle Gunsight Lake, a challenging hike that ends at an alpine lake, or Wesach Mountain, a 24-kilometre overnight expedition into the high alpine. The peaks of Seven Sisters Provincial Park are impossible to miss from the highway en route to Terrace—but you can also explore them up close and personal too. There’s both easy outings along lower-elevation trails and longer, multi-day excursions. Families can tackle the Watson Lake Trail while Weeskinisht Peak is a worthy summit for any mountaineer. For an easy hike in town the Howe Creek Trail winds through dense cedar forests.
The quiet shores of Hai Lake can be easily accessed via a short one-kilometre hike through old-growth forest. You’ll find a small rustic campsite here as well. Lakelse Lake is arguably the most popular place to camp in the surrounding region and for good reason: great amenities, plenty of sandy shoreline, and well-sized forested sites. If Lakelse is full, try Red Sands or Kitsumkalum Lake, another popular campground with great beach access. The rush of Kleanza Creek is white noise for campers situated on one of its riverside sites. Ferry Island is a municipal campground located in the heart of downtown. Hikers will appreciate Pine Lake‘s well situated campground—there are only a handful of sites here, but campsites link up with a six-kilometre trail that loops around the lake.
Planning to explore the Nisga’a Territory? Campgrounds let you overnight in the heart of this magical area. Dragon Lake is a quiet spot to rest while the 16-site Anhluut Anhluut Laxmihl Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park is popular but delivers immediate access to this unique landscape.
Prince Rupert‘s coastal temperate rainforest gives new meaning to the concept of forest bathing. Here, moisture-shrouded forests contain mossy banks, low-lying brush, lichen-draped branches, thick canopy of shady conifers, and gentle creeks. Trails either lead through this lush west coast wilderness or to viewpoints overlooking the town and its waterways. The short connecting path from Rushbrook to Cow Bay follows an old rail line and features suspension bridges that jut out over the water—good vantage points for wildlife viewing.
The trail to Tall Trees starts out as a gentle climb through coastal undergrowth before sharply rising to a plateau that leads to views of Prince Rupert harbour, Metlakatla, and the surrounding islands. Butze Rapids is a well-loved trail, and on any given day, you’ll find runners, families and dog walkers enjoying the moderate five-kilometre loop. Make sure to check the tides for the ideal viewing times to see the rapids. Diana Lake is a popular summertime spot for families and swimmers. A short nature path follows Diana Creek to the day-use picnic area. Prudhomme Lake Provincial Park and Kinnikinnick Campground & RV Park are both located on the outskirts of town and offer a quiet retreat post-hiking.