The Rawson Lake hike in Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is one of a few…
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the West Chilcotin area of British Columbia is the home of the Rainbow Range Trail. It’s in an area not many have visited or even know about. The hike in this park is just about as close to hiking nirvana as you’re going to get.
I’d call the Rainbow Range hike in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park one of the best one day hikes of my life. And that’s saying something considering how many I’ve done over the decades. It offers amazing wildflowers, beautiful tarns, rainbow coloured mountains, silence and a sense that you have this part of the world to yourself.
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I can only describe the hike in superlative terms and hope my photos give you some sense of just how awesome it really is.
I first heard about the Rainbow Range after reading British Columbia’s Magazine 50th anniversary issue in 2009 – Top 50 things to do in BC Before You Die. The photo of the Rainbow Range captured my imagination then and I’d have to say that the area’s beauty exceeded my expectations.
The hike into the Rainbow Range in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park
You spend the first 45 minutes of the hike walking through an old burn that occurred in 2009. I actually think it’s made this section of the trail very beautiful. Wild flowers have proliferated so there are now great swaths of pink fireweed, yellow arnica and a white flower I’m not familiar with. And they’re all set off against a black background so there’s a lot of drama.
Once you’re through the burn then it’s only about 15 more minutes of walking to reach the high alpine and the start of a series of outstanding mountain views. Interestingly horses are allowed on the trail but in no time we lost sight of them in the expanse of the wilderness.
Be prepared for jaw-dropping views
Ninety minutes of hiking provides you with jaw dropping views of the so called Rainbow Mountains as you look ahead. If your turn around you get equally stunning views of the Coast Mountains.
Throw in an abundance of wildflower-filled meadows and numerous small lakes and tarns with deep blue water. Now you can probably understand why I was in hiking heaven. And there wasn’t any evidence of bear scat which made me very happy.
What you need to know before you hike in the Rainbow Range
- This is truly an off the beaten path hike. You may not see another soul so be prepared to be self-sufficient in an emergency.
- The hike is accessed off of Highway 20 shortly after entering Tweedsmuir Provincial Park if you’re driving west. Signage is good. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Anahim Lake. We had stayed at Atnarko Lodge – a further 30 minute drive away, but well worth it.
- The hike is eight kilometres one way though once you’re in the vicinity of the Rainbow Range you could hike for days.
- The vertical gain is approximately 300 metres – quite civilized to get a hike of this quality. The gain is greater if you continue past the last of the cairns.
- Camping is possible with obvious campsites situated by a small lake on the trail with a bear proof box provided for your food. You might also consider taking a bear cannister to give you more flexibility in where you want to camp.
- Don’t forget the 10 hiking essentials.
- The trail is very well marked with cairns.
- This is black and grizzly bear country. Bring easily accessible bear spray in a holster and read my tips on how to stay safe in bear country.
- Allow at least five hours so you have time to sit and ponder the beauty of the place over your lunch.
- For more information visit the provincial park website.
Where to stay in the area
In Anahim Lake I highly recommend Eagle’s Nest Resort. We saw a bald eagle scoop a fish from the water on their property.
Atnarko Lodge via a bit of a drive in boasts a gorgeous setting on Charlotte Lake. Loved our stay here.
If you’re after a log cabin experience in a waterfront resort I’d recommend Nimpo Lake Resort.
Further reading on what to do in the Chilcotin
- A Trip to the beautiful Bella Coola Valley in Central BC
- 20 Things to Do Along Highway 20 in British Columbia
- A Visit to Hunlen Falls – Canada’s 3rd Highest Waterfall
- A Stay at Atnarko Retreat on Charlotte Lake in the Chilcotin
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