Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Hidden in the north reaches of the province of British Columbia, Telkwa Pass attracts visitors from across the greater Pacific Northwest. With its Glaciers, waterfalls, and majestic alpine monoliths, you too may be planning an adventure to Telkwa Pass!
Adventure Rating: Epic
Trip Length: 74 miles, 1.5 - 3 days
Season: Late May to early October.
Avg Trail Rating: 3 Peak Trail Rating: 5
Typical Terrain: Forest service roads and jeep trails that tend to be narrow, rocky, steep, and off camber. Expect numerous stream crossings as well.
Recommended Vehicle: 4x4 with all terrain tires. Full size rigs should expect narrow trails that may prove difficult to pass.
Adventure Vans: Sprinter 4x4s are not recommended.
Alternative Routes: Yes! See bottom of route details for more info.
In the reaches of Northern British Columbia sits the Telkwa Pass Trail-- a full day's drive from Vancouver. Despite the fact that it's a full day's drive from Vancouver (12+ hours), hundreds of adventurers make the pilgrimage ever year to one of BC's most rugged, wild, and picturesque regions. A series of FSRs (forest service roads) and trails that make their way through the Alpine valleys connects the communities of Telkwa and Terrace. And while not overtly challenging in terms of length or technical difficulty, the remoteness of this trail certainly isn't for the faint of heart! Most travelers start at the east end of the trail in Telkwa and make their way west to Terrace. Heading west, the route begins on a series of graded and well groomed forest service roads. Once you reach the Telkwa Pass trail, the road gets considerably narrower and the steepness of ascents and descents increases dramatically. When the ground is wet, which is quite frequent in this part of Canada, some of these steeper hills can prove challenging, especially for larger rigs. Many running the trail split the route into two days, and Top Lake acts as an official mid-way point that is also a popular campsite given ease of access to lakeside campsites. Top Lake sits in the cradle of an impressively serene alpine valley surrounded by the massive rock face walls of Redemption Peak to the south, and Miligit Peak on the northern side. Numerous waterfalls cascade down the near vertical rock walls into the lakes and creeks below. It's been said that it's impossible to take a bad picture while visiting Top Lake, and that might just be true. Leaving Top Lake, the trail does get much rockier and tighter in places (although we expect the trail to be opened up given the increased usage of this trail in recent years). As you make your way closer to the trail's exit, the route eventually turns into a series of forest service roads that are relatively easy going, but certainly no less scenic. Your rate of travel will pick up once you're back on the forest service roads, and soon you'll nearing the community of Terrace at the west end of the trail.
And speaking of FSRs, they're all over British Columbia, and this part of the province is no difference. While many of the FSRs are dead-ends, there are dozens of them in the surrounding mountains and valleys that can be explored, many of which lead to awe inspiring views of the surrounding mountains (check out the Alternative Routes section for a couple of side-route suggestions).
Top Lake is definitely the go-to camp location on this route. Keep in mind, you're in grizzly and black bear country. Be mindful of where you set up camp (berries are a black bear's best friend!). There are also great camping options atop Microwave Mountain and Trapper Mountain, but per usual, you can expect wind near the mountaintops.
DP1 - Telkwa River
DP2 - Telkwa Pass
DP3 - Top Lake
DP4 - Zymoetz River
DP5 - Clore River
DP6 - Trapper Mountain
DP7 - Trapper Mountain Cabin
There are numerous forest service roads that split off from Telkwa Pass trail, and even more in the surrounding mountains and communities. Microwave Mountain is a favorite among day trippers, and once atop the mountain, this trail provides fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Expect to set aside at least half a day exploring "the Microsave." A quicker mountain top side-route is Trapper Mountain, which sits at the western half of the trail. This 13 mile out-and-back rewards visitors with fantastic 360 degree views of the surrounding alpine. Those seeking to go further into the wilderness may wish to explore the wild Clore River Valley (FSR). This 40 mile out and back sees a fraction of the traffic of Microwave, Trapper and Telkwa. There's a good chance you won't run into another person while exploring the Clore!
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