I’m in the West Chilcotin area of British Columbia – an area not many have visited or even know about.  Within this area lies Tweedsmuir Provincial Park – home to the Rainbow Range Trail and a hike that’s 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 years.

"Looking southwest towards the Coast Mountains"

Looking southwest towards the Coast Mountains

I can only describe the hike in superlative terms and hope my photos give you some sense of just how awesome it really was.

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

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.

"Burnt dead trees against a deep blue sky"

Burnt dead trees against a deep blue sky

"Fireweed en masse"

Fireweed en masse

"Juxtaposition of dead and living"

Juxtaposition of dead and living

"Closeup of wild flower"

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.

"Horses on the trail to the Rainbow Range"

Horses used to resupply a camp further up in the Rainbow Range

"Coast Mountains"

"Alpine lake and mountain views"

Alpine lake and mountain views

"Lupins lining the trail"

Lupins lining the trail

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 and you can understand why I was in hiking heaven. And there wasn’t any evidence of bear scat which made me very happy.

"View of the Rainbow Mountains"

The Rainbow Mountains

"Small tarn"

"Great view of the mountains"

Great view of the mountains

"John walking through reams of wildflowers"

John walking through reams of wildflowers

"Masses of multi coloured wildflowers"

Masses of multi coloured wildflowers

"Rainbow Mountain"

"Deep blue water and colourful mountains"

The colourful Rainbow Range

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.
  • 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.
  • The trail is very well marked with cairns.
  • This is black and grizzly bear country. Bring bear spray 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.

Had you ever heard of the Rainbow Range hike in Tweesdmuir Provincial Park??

Other posts from the trip to this region you might like:

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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