Trip 106 - June 4, 2016 (Saturday)

Sikanni River Trail Hike

Between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson BC

Page 1 of 2


Location of the trailhead:
Northeastern British Columbia, 24th kilometer of Mile 171 (Grassy) Road off Alaska Highway, approximately midway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.

Liked: Several fine mountain and river views, lots of shade, decent trail condition, meeting free-roaming horses.

Of note: Remote wilderness area, the trail is not marked, several creek crossings required, lots of mud when wet, horse manure galore, the road from Alaska Highway to the 3-way split on photo #1 is much more rutted and potholed than last year.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 73 (Pink Mountain) B6. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available at BackroadMapbooks.com.

Related Trip: 081 - Sikanni Chief Falls.



Sikanni River trail takes you into the depth of Muskwa-Kechika management area along the banks of Sikanni River. The trail is not marked, so we spent a considerable amount of time figuring out where to go next and getting a bit lost. However, the general direction is clear: the river is to the left, so, whenever possible, take a left turn. This is a very long trail (30+ kilometers one way), and our goal was at least to reach Trimble Lake, but we didn't get there before going back. However, there were still great views to be had. Here is how it all went down:

1. We start our coverage with a 3-way split, which is the same split as seen on photo #11 of Sikanni Chief Falls trip report. Please, visit that trip report for directions up to this point. From here, you would go left to get to Sikanni Chief Falls trailhead in about 2 kilometers, and would go straight to get to Sikanni River trailhead in about 8 kilometers.


Mile 171 (Grassy) Road off Alaska Highway

2. So, we went straight, and, right after you take the road in the middle, there is this sign indicating that Sikanni River Ranch is down there as well. The road conditions after the split are pretty good, but, from Alaska Highway all the way to the 3-way split, the road now is much more rutted than last year, and with a whole lot of deep potholes. You should still be able to easily make it in a high-clearance 2WD vehicle, though.


Mile 171 (Grassy) Road to Sikanni River Trail trailhead British Columbia Canada

3. Nearly 8 kilometers after the split, the gate prevents further vehicular access. Coordinates: N 57'15'901 W 123'04'969. Elevation: 1,000 meters. From here, it's either hiking (which is going to take forever), or, better, biking (which is what we did) or horse riding. The road continues for 0.5 km to the left of the gate and leads to an abandoned air strip with several rudimentary campsites on the sides, with even a few makeshift pit toilets. There are also piles of horse manure all over the place there, just like along the trail. The origin of the manure would become clear on the next page of our trip report.


Sikanni River Trail Trailhead off BC Highway 97

4. After spending a peaceful night by the airstrip, we started our biking trip the next morning. The road was in a pretty good shape after the gate. Up to the point pictured in the photo below, there was a steady gain in altitude, which made for a fast bike ride on the way back.


Sikanni River Trail British Columbia Canada

5. The first split (of many) arrived soon - we stayed left (straight), as the river was somewhere to our left too, though not seen or heard at this point. Coordinates: N 57'15'610 W 123'08'934. Elevation: 1,078 meters.


Sikanni River Trail Province of BC Canada

6. And then, the second split. Another left path to take. Coordinates: N 57'15'362 W 123'10'247. Elevation: 1,107 meters. It's remarkable because after we went left as per usual, there was a long descent, which was great since we had a bicycle, but then it took 15 minutes to push the bike up that hill on the way back.


Sikanni River Trail

7. And after the steepest hill of the trail, there was the longest straight stretch. It was very serene to just pedal on a smooth road with trees on both sides.


Sikanni River Trail British Columbia Canada

8. The third split is at coordinates N 57'14'867 W 123'14'764. Elevation: 1,111 meters. We should have turned to the right this time. But we didn't know any better, and that was not bad at all, since, after turning left at the split seen on the photo below, we ended up...


Sikanni River Trail BC Canada

9...we ended up...

10...at Sikanni River Ranch.


Sikanni River Ranch off BC Highway 97 via Mile 171 (Grassy) Road

11. Ok, so, turned around at the gate (it was a short side trip), and went back to the split seen in photo #8. Took a right turn this time, and, for a moment, the vision of the gruelling Christina Falls trail hike came to mind, with all the mud ahead of us.


Sikanni River Trail

12. Fortunately, it was a very short muddy stretch, and the road went back to its smooth self right after that. In the meanwhile, we have reached a short side trip to a pond. The left split is pictured below. Coordinates: N 57'14'740 W 123'15'405. Elevation: 1,112 meters.


Sikanni River Trail turnoff to pond

13. Right after turning left.


Sikanni River Trail spur trail to a pond

14. Not bad, eh. Just watch out for boggy areas near the edge of the water.


Pond off Sikanni River Trail British Columbia Canada

15. Moving on. Another split. Coordinates: N 57'15'225 W 123'16'450. Elevation: 1,092 meters. Stay left.


Sikanni River Trail Northeastern British Columbia Canada

16. And here is the first creek crossing. Coordinates: N 57'15'070 W 123'17'251. This is where we have encountered several ATVs on the way back, as ATVs are allowed on Redfern Lake trail (entrance further North off Alaska Highway), and there is a connector between Redfern Lake and Sikanni River trails.


Sikanni River Trail

17. Crossing could be an issue when the water is high. And, yes, take a left right after crossing the creek (going right would probably lead to Redfern Lake trail, as that's where the ATVs went).


Sikanni River Trail first creek crossing

18. So, we turned left after crossing the creek, and, in no time, there was another split. We took left again...


Sikanni River Trail Province of British Columbia Canada

19. ...and ended up at the back entrance to Sikanni River Ranch.


Back entrance to Sikanni River Ranch

20. So, went back to the split seen in photo #18, and went to the right.


Sikanni River Trail BC Canada

21. Good views started to appear shortly thereafter.


Mountain View Sikanni River Trail British Columbia Canada

22. As well as the second creek crossing. But, before the crossing seen ahead in the photo below, there is a short path on the left - the turnoff is also seen in this photo.


Sikanni River Trail

23. The path after turning left.

24. And you are finally on the banks of Sikanni River, with a great view to boot.


Sikanni River and Mountain View off Sikanni River Trail Northeastern BC Canada

Our Sikanni River Trail trip report continues on Page 2.

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