On the Water, In the Rainforest, Off the Grid: It’s Adventure Season in BC

Posted Friday, July 17, 2015

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Kootenay Rockies, Northern British Columbia, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, Vancouver, Health & Wellness, Outdoor Adventure / Ecotourism, Parks & Wildlife

As the temperature rises, British Columbia showcases an impressive lineup of outdoor play ideally suited for those who like to turn up the heat, and quicken the pulse.

On the Water

Yoga enthusiasts eager to work their core are best to break out the boards with Stand Up Paddle Vancouver, an outdoor adventure crew who expertly combines the glide of stand-up paddleboarding with the centred practice of yoga. This scenic exploration, which masters artful posing on English Bay, strives to build stability, invigorate the senses and, ultimately, take the experience to a new level of Zen. To delve further into the wild, enthusiasts can stand-up paddleboard with the crew from Alpine Rafting along the remote rivers that rush near Golden; tour options include afternoons on the Kicking Horse and Columbia rivers or a full day’s excursion along Kicking Horse and Beaver rivers. Bonus: afternoon outings feature a cruise through the town of Golden, while full-day adventurists will learn to negotiate class II+ rapids, all while basking in the nearly 10-storey-high magnificence of Yoho National Park’s Wapta Falls. standuppaddlevancouver.com; alpinerafting.com  

In Squamish, Sunwolf shines with high-octane whitewater rafting excursions that ride the waves in the heart of the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. Here, south of Whistler, 10 cosy riverside cabins sit alongside Fergie’s Cafe (the homemade sausages are a must), providing the ultimate home base for all crews, particularly those eager to soak up the sunshine on the water. On the roster? Adventurers big and small can sign on for a fun, splashy ride on the Cheakamus Family Adventure, while adrenalin-seekers can make a day of it with the Elaho Whitewater Expedition, a rush that promises two mighty class IV rivers, backed by views of hanging glaciers and cascading waterfalls. Bonus: A gourmet barbecue mid-trip at Sunwolf’s remote island camp is sure to satisfy, while an optional cliff jump screams for a spotlight on Instagram. sunwolf.net  

In the Okanagan, Hoodoo Adventures mixes the work of kayaking with playful indulgence — of the delectable variety, that is. Indeed, fans of food and wine can sign on for Okanagan Lake outings such as the four-hour, picnic-included Kayak Wine and Cheese Tour or the arts-inspired Pinot, Paddle and Paint excursion; the latter will have enthusiasts indulging in all three when a Hoodoo kayak guide joins forces with a local artist. And for a one-way journey that encourages comradery, Paddle to the Pub makes for a satisfying workout, an all-for-one effort that is rewarded with a tall glass of goodness at Local’s Pub at Summerland Waterfront Resort. hoodooadventures.ca  

In the Rainforest

For more than 20 years, Rockwood Adventures has led enthusiasts through Vancouver, a city on the edge of wilderness, into the rainforest that envelops it — an enlightening journey that showcases the juxtaposition of the city’s sky-high buildings and Mother Nature’s own towering giants. On the agenda: explorers take in the West End bustle and view historical elements in Vancouver’s 400-hectare (1,000-acre) Stanley Park, all before heading to North Vancouver’s Capilano Canyon where massive cedars, Douglas firs and hemlock meld with lichen, moss, ferns and flowering plants in a rich forest of green. Guided tour highlights include views of the province’s oldest known Yew tree, insights into the life cycle of the Pacific salmon and a keen understanding of BC’s rich temperate rainforest landscape. rockwoodadventures.com

Beauty meets challenge along BC’s Sunshine Coast Trail, further north near Powell River. Showcasing lake and mountain vistas, coastal shorelines and, of course, old-growth forest, this 180-kilometre (112-mile) trail stretches from Desolation Sound Marine Park in the north to Powell River’s Saltery Bay ferry terminal in the south. Twelve free huts rise along the trail for shared public use (perfect for hikers who wish to connect with their fellow trekkers), making this journey Canada’s longest hut-to-hut experience. And for those who are keen to mix things up, strategically situated access points break up the 10- to 14-day trip with the promise of B&Bs, restaurants and more. sunshinecoastcanada.com  

Rainforests and remote beaches comprise more than 115 kilometres (71 miles) of rugged hiking trails that define Vancouver Island’s Cape Scott Provincial Park. Stretching along the Island’s northern coast, west of Port Hardy, this landscape beckons those with a love for the backcountry — not to mention variety. Here adventure runs the gamut: the San Josef Bay Trail is an easy 30-minute walk to a gloriously white sand beach while the 24-kilometre (15-mile) Cape Scott Trail is a classic trek for beginners and intermediates, boasting rainforests, marshlands and wide swaths of sandy beaches; best experienced in two to three days, the latter trail charms with cosy camping, a ranger cabin and the Cape Scott Lighthouse. For those with more steam, the North Coast Trail takes things up a notch with a rigorous four-to-seven day, 59-kilometre (36-mile) test of mettle that rewards the challenge with some of the best coastal hiking on the planet. env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/cape_scott;  capescottpark.com                   

Along the west coast of southern Vancouver Island, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail has earned its stripes as a high-adrenalin wilderness hike. Here, four trailheads — China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach — stretch along 47 kilometres (29 miles) of rugged landscape, and while the trail does feature a number of easy day hikes, it’s best suited for those eager to take on vigorous day or multi-day outings. Backed by roaring surf, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail’s abundance of natural features, including waterfalls, grottos, estuaries and old-growth forest, promise to lure. Not to be missed? The shale and quartz shorelines of Botanical Beach, home to one of the richest tidal areas along the west coast — a sensitive ecosystem, and vivid visual showcase, that is best viewed at low tide. env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/juan_de_fuca  

Off the Grid

BC’s Cariboo country is home to Siwash Lake Ranch, a multi-adventure, eco-friendly retreat embraced by a rugged mountain and grassy landscape that inspires exploration in the saddle, cowboy-style. And this summer, the luxury wilderness resort northwest of Kamloops promises even more to quicken the pulse, thanks to its new helicopter excursion to the mighty Fraser River. This day-long outing whisks enthusiasts into the wild to a sparsely populated, semi-arid landscape, one that drew the masses during the 1870s Gold Rush. Once there, enthusiasts will strike gold of their own, so to speak, with interpretive nature walks through the desert grasslands and sage benches above the Fraser, heli-hikes in the high alpine, panning for gold, exploration of historic outbuildings from the Gold Rush and a safari-style picnic along the river. To end the day’s adventures, a quick helicopter ride to Fort Berens winery in nearby Lillooet will provide ample reason to raise a glass. siwashlakeranch.com    

The calming stillness that surrounds Northern BC’s Bear Claw Lodge holds no less sway for the adventure-minded. Here, north of Smithers, more than 30 kilometres (19 miles) of meadow-and-river-canyon trails beckon equestrian enthusiasts, while those keen to cast a line will be rewarded with a summer salmon season in full swing. And there’s more: customized rafting expeditions explore the Smithers and Kispiox rivers, showcasing local wildlife and ancient First Nations sites; leisurely float trips make a day of it, drifting from the Sweetin-Kispiox confluence downstream to the lodge; and family Eco-Wild conservation camps delve into basic survival skills that nurture a love for the great outdoors. kispioxriver.com  

For nearly 40 years, Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing has provided powder for the people with heart-thumping adventure in BC’s remote Selkirk and Monashee mountains. Indeed, there’s little doubt why skiers and snowboarders flock to this mountainous terrain for cold-climate exertion — but what to do when the mercury rises? This summer, the pros at Selkirk Tangiers have unveiled heli-adventures in the alpine, a brand new roster of warm-weather activity that includes sightseeing flights, heli-hiking, mountaineering, heli-biking and even a picnic in the clouds. Available July through September, these guided excursions in and around Revelstoke are sure to heat things up, complete with a stellar bird’s-eye view of alpine meadows, glaciers and more.  selkirk-tangiers.com   


On the Map