Updated: Feb 9
A short drive from downtown Vancouver, Harrison Lake embodies the majestic beautify that British Columbia has become famous for. Snowcapped peaks, emerald green forests, and rivers and creeks gushing with fresh snow melt abound in this corner of BC.
Adventure Rating: Epic
Trip Length: 134 miles, 2-3 days
Season: Year round, but May - October is recommended to avoid snow.
Avg Trail Rating: 2 Peak Trail Rating: 3
Typical Terrain: Graded forest service roads.
Recommended Vehicle: Subaru with A/T tires.
Adventure Vans: Yes! Sprinter 4x4s should have no issues with this route.
Alternative Routes: n/a
Harrison Lake is one of the most popular overland and off roading destinations for those living in Vancouver and the surrounding area. And for good reason, Harrison lake and the surrounding Coastal Mountains create the sort of spectacular that British Columbia is famous for. There are two popular routes that most overlanders take when visiting Harrison Lake. This particular route is the go-to route for those traveling along the western shore of the lake, which travels from south to north concluding just east of Pemberton. While the other route traverses the eastern shore of Harrison Lake before breaking east towards Nahatlatch lookout and Highway 1. Needless to say, you can't go wrong with either option as both are spectacular in their own rite. One of the benefits of the Harrison Lake Overland Trail is its low elevation. Many locals travel the route year round, even when the trail is covered in snow during the winter months. The most popular direction to travel the route is north to south, but this is likely due to the fact that most trail visitors are coming from Vancouver Metro. It's certainly possible to travel south to north, just be sure to watch out for oncoming traffic, as you'll be going against the flow of most visitors. The trail begins just outside of the small resort village of Harrison Hot Springs, and yes, there are a number of hot springs in the vicinity! For those looking to find their sea legs in overlanding, Harrison Lake Overland Trail is a great place to begin. The dirt roads are all relatively well maintained and mild in manner, and if you do find yourself in a pickle, the amount of trail traffic and services in the surrounding area should put your mind at ease. As you make your way upstream Harrison River from where it meets the mighty Fraser River, Echo Island and Harrison Lake some come into view as you make your way up the mountain. From here the route hugs the westside of Harrison Lake. There are a number of Recreation Sites and unofficial campsites along the shore of the lake. The best lakeside sites tend to fill up on the weekends during the busy summer months. The route that Overland Trail Guides has developed for Harrison Lake includes two side trips. There are numerous FSRs (forest service roads) and secondary roads and trails that break off from the main route. Some are relatively well maintained, while others will require 4 wheel drive vehicles, but we encourage you to explore the surrounding mountains. The first side trip entails driving several miles off the main route to Chehalis Lake, which is a pristine alpine lake surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides. Chehalis is a nice option that provides respite from the crowds at Harrison Lake. As you make your way north, the impressive Mt Breakenridge (elev. 7,858') appears on the opposite side of the lake. At the northern end of the lake sits Tipella, home to the Douglas First Nation (Douglas Indian Band / Xa'xtsa First Nation). Follow the route along the banks of Sloquet River to Sloquet Hot Springs. Locals visit the hot springs year round-- who doesn't love soaking in a warm pool in the snow? This is another location that can get crowded on the weekends, so plan accordingly. Once you depart Sloquet Hot Springs, you're on the final leg of the route. This section follows the deep valley carved out by the Lillooet River. Lillooet Lake sits at the last few remaining miles at the far north end of the route. Just like with Harrison Lake, there are a number of formal Recreation Sites and informal campsites along Lillooet River and Lake. Numerous FSRs and trails skirt into the deep alpine valleys to the east-- another opportunity to explore perhaps? If you're still in need of some additional soaking, consider stopping by Tsek Hot Sprints. Sloquet Hot Springs are definitely the nicer of the two, which explains their popularity. The final miles of the route follows along the eastern shore of Lillooet Lake, until reaching the route's terminus at Highway 99, a few miles east of Pemberton.
Camping Recommendations There are numerous Recreation Sites and informal campsites along this route. Keep in mind, Recreation Sites typically charge a fee for camping. Some of our favorite locations include:
Hale Creek Rec Site (fantastic for groups)
Twenty Mile Bay Rec Site
Sloquet Hot Springs
DP1 - Chehalis River
DP2 - Harrison Lake
DP3 - Hale Creek Rec Site
DP4 - Chehalis Lake
DP5 - Mt Breakenridge
DP6 - Tipella Airport
DP7 - Sloquet Hot Springs
DP8 - Lillooet River
DP9 - Tsek Hot Springs
DP10 - Lillooet Lake
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