Trip 141 - August 14, 2018 (Tuesday)

Malkow Lookout Trail Hike

Near Smithers, British Columbia, Canada

Near the town of Smithers, approximately 370 kilometers west of Prince George via Highway 16.

Liked: Easy access to the trail and a fairly easy trail. The ability to bike for most of the trail. Views of the valley and mountains.

Of Note: Bear in the bushes closer to the second half of the trail, the trail is overgrown in places (long pants are recommended), tree roots make it less than a serene bike ride, cows may temporarily block the path.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 36 (Smithers) B5. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available for purchase at

Malkow Lookout Trail is only 3 kilometers long, and passes through several farms (hiker access permitted), so several gates need to be opened and closed. The trail goes through an open area, then a forest, then another open area, then again through a forest, and then there is a final climb to the former lookout area, where there are two benches, and fine views of the valley and mountains. Cows may be blocking the path, so be ready to gently shoo them away. Don't be too gentle with a black bear, which was lurking in the bushes near the trail - make lots of noise and carry a bear spray. If you decide to bike, this is certainly going to save some time, though there are plentiful tree roots on the path in the forest, making for a very bumpy ride. Going downhill from the lookout area is much more fun, but beware that the surface is loose, and the switchbacks are sharp - speed control is essential. 

1. We camped along a forest service road near Smithers the previous night, and were woken up by a gathering of free-roaming cows, who surrounded our vehicle from the front and on both sides.

2. The left flank was held by these two.

3. After some honking, the retreat was on!

4. Cow #33 decided to make a stand, though.

5. We are now on Highway 16 West, with the town of Smithers a few kilometers ahead. Approaching Old Babine Lake Road, with a sign indicating a right turn is required to reach Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park.

6. A few hundred meters later, we are turning right onto Old Babine Lake Road, shortly before the bridge across Bulkley River. Smithers would still be ahead on Highway 16. Coordinates for the turnoff: N 54'46'139 W 127'07'684. Elevation: 484 meters.

7. Old Babine Lake Road near Smithers BC.

8. 4.7 kilometers later, turn left onto McCabe Road.

9. McCabe Road near Smithers BC.

10. The access roads are all in very good shape, and any vehicle would make it to the trailhead. The surface is asphalt (most of the way), and pressed dirt and gravel (McCabe Road).

11. 1.6 kilometers after turning onto McCabe Road (6.3 kilometers after turning from Highway 16), the trailhead and parking area would be on the left side. Logpile Lodge would be on the opposite side of the road. Coordinates: N 54'48'816 W 127'06'351. Elevation: 606 meters.

12. Here is the trailhead. You are now entering private farmland, with hiking access permitted to Malkow Lookout. The sign asks to keep dogs on leash.

13. After some open land seen on the photo above, the trail enters a forest.

14. And, just before the next gate, our cow adventure continued - the path was blocked, and it took some effort to get the cows to move.

Here is Our Video of the Cow Standoff:

15. The path through the forest features overgrown underbrush, so long pants would protect legs from scratches (especially, if you are biking).

16. Half an hour after starting the hike, the path emerges from the forest at a junction with an old forest service road. Turn left. Coordinates: N 54'49'479 W 127'06'446. Elevation: 700 meters.

17. You then hike on the forest service road for a few minutes. There was a fairly large black bear on the right side inside the forest.

18. Soon, there is another gate, and another farm. The end of the hike can be seen far ahead, where a communication tower is standing on top of a mountain.

19. After walking by a field, you are in a forest again. There are two more gates to open and close.

20. The forest soon ends, and you begin a final climb to your destination. Closer to the top, good views start to appear.

21. The end is near.

22. The mountain view is actually somewhat better from the forest service road, as the trees do not obstruct some of the view.

23. More to the right.

24. And we are at the Malkow Lookout. Coordinates: N 54'49'944 W 127'06'791. Elevation: 833 meters (227 meters elevation gain from the start of the trail).

25. Two benches to sit down and enjoy the views.

26. And the views are quite good.

27. A closer look.

Here is Our Video of the View from Malkow Lookout

It took us just over an hour to get to the top, and slightly more than 20 minutes to get back, bicycle-assisted. Cows and bear notwithstanding, it's a good trail, quite short and with not much climbing. The views are neat too, so certainly recommended.

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