Trip 126 - July 8, 2017 (Saturday)
Murray Range Trail Hike
Off Highway 97 in the general vicinity of Mackenzie BC
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Liked: Easy access to trailhead off Highway 97, view of Azouzetta Lake, view of mountain lakes, haphazard stone formations in the alpine.
Of note: Relentlessly steep trail for most of the way to the alpine. Numerous mosquitoes up to the alpine. Noise from Highway 97 for much of the trail. Some parts of the trail are overgrown and washed out. Very windy in some places in the alpine. Hiking poles and boots are essential.
Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 56 (Pine Pass) B5. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available at BackroadMapbooks.com.
Other Trips in Mackenzie Area: Kimta Creek Trail Hike, Parsnip West Forest Service Road, Canty Lake Trail Hike, Carp Lake Road (War Falls Visit).
Murray Range Trail is one of the few trails listed in Backroads Mapbook along a stretch of Highway 97 between Chetwynd and Mackenzie Junction. There are no signs leading you to the trail, so the map and GPS with the Backroads Mapbook software proved very helpful in locating the trailhead. Once you start the trail, it is fairly obvious where you need to go. But getting there won't be easy. Murray Range Trail is very steep for much of the way. This is, probably, the steepest trail we have ever hiked, save for, maybe, Mount Lincoln trail in Yale, which is much shorter. Loose dirt and stones make things even more complicated. The views from this trail are quite good. However, considering how difficult this trail is, it should be left for well-equipped experienced hikers.
1. We are Northbound on Highway 97, past Mackenzie Junction (Highway 97 at Highway 39 turnoff).
2. Driving past Azouzetta Lodge.
3. Turn right immediately past Azouzetta Lodge (in 200 meters), at the intersection seen on the photo below. It is 12 kilometres North of Bijoux Falls Provincial Park, and 44 km past Mackenzie Junction. If you have reached a sign welcoming you to Peace River Regional District, you have missed this turn.
4. View after the turn. Take the road going straight.
5. Seven hundred meters later, there is a small camping area to the left. This is where you would park, because trailhead is right across the road on the right side. This is also a good area to park if you are driving on Highway 97 and need a place to spend a night. The highway noise would still be there, but won't be as bad as when parking at one of the rest areas. Coordinates for the trailhead: N 55'24'109 W 122'37'773. Elevation: 885 meters.
6. There are no signs of any kind to indicate a trail is nearby. Look for these flimsy branches across from the camping area.
7. Cross the ditch to begin the hike. Watch for trains - the railroad is just behind the ditch.
8. Right from the beginning, you can see the final destination - a ridge on the far left of the photo below.
9. Murray Range Trail has many good views, and the first one arrives within a minute of starting the hike.
10. The trail is a bit overgrown at the beginning, but mostly has little to no tree cover, so plan for sun protection.
11. The main challenge is the steepness of the trail. It's also mostly a track made of dirt and loose stones. So, things would get really challenging, if the ground would be wet, especially on the way down.
12. Looking back, we see Azouzetta Lake.
13. There is this (mostly) dry creek bed all the way to the alpine, and the trail starts to the left of it, and then crosses back and forth several times, due to the trail erosion.
14. And did we mention how steep this trail is? Like, no kidding.
15. Snow-covered creek bed closer to the alpine.
16. Looking left.
17. The steep part is almost over. Took us 2.5 hours to get through this steepest part of the trail, with more than half of that time taking photographs and catching breath (while fighting off mosquitoes).
Our Murray Range Trail trip report Continues on Page 2.
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