Trip 144 - August 17, 2018 (Friday)

Glacier Gulch Trail Hike

Near Smithers, British Columbia, Canada


Location:
Off BC Highway 16, near the town of Smithers.

Liked: Easy access to the trailhead, mountain / valley / river views, shade in the forest, no bugs.

Of Note: Glacier Gulch trail is dangerous, and is for experienced well-equipped hikers only. The last two thirds of the trail is loose rock and dirt, with numerous opportunities to get hurt. Hiking boots and poles are essential. Specialized equipment and training are needed to access the glacier.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trail Coordinates: Page 35 (Moricetown) G5. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available for purchase at BackroadMapbooks.com.

Glacier Gulch trail starts off Twin Falls Recreation Site, located off BC Highway 16, slightly West of the town of Smithers. This recreation site is quite popular, as a short walk leads to an observation platform with a good view of an impressive waterfall. On the way to the observation platform, a path on the left side signifies the beginning of Glacier Gulch Trail, which leads to a glacier on top of Hudson Bay Mountain. Glacier Gulch Trail features several very impressive views, and is not excessively steep. That said, it's one of the most dangerous trails we have hiked, as the last two thirds of this trail is almost nothing but large loose rock and dirt, and hiking poles and boots, especially on the way down, are absolutely essential. You may want to avoid this trail, if the ground is wet or slippery.

1. We are Westbound on BC Highway 16, leaving the town of Smithers. Zero your odometer as you are driving past these statues of a horse and a bear.

2-3. Turn left onto Lake Kathryn Road 2.3 km past the statues. The sign would point to Twin Falls Recreation Site.

4. At the 4.7 mark, turn left onto Glacier Gulch Road. It becomes gravel at 6.4 km after the statues. A railroad crossing is required.

5. Arrive to Twin Falls Recreation Site with 8.8 km on the odometer. Pit toilet and garbage bins are available, as well as a few level sites. Maximum stay allowed is 14 consecutive days. The trail starts just past the pit toilet seen ahead. Recreation site coordinates: N 54'49'533 W 127'16'561. Elevation: 746 meters.

6. The beginning of the Twin Falls and Glacier Gulch trails.

7. A few hundred meters later, there is a split. Glacier Gulch trail starts to the left of the info stand. To the right is a very short trail to Twin Falls observation platform.

8. The first half of the Glacier Gulch trail is fairly easy.

9. There is a steady elevation gain, with tree roots and firmly planted stones being the major obstacles. Shade and no bugs make the hike even better.

10. The right side of Hudson Bay Mountain starts appearing very shortly.

11. Fifty minutes into the hike, right after this warning sign, things change dramatically. The path turns into loose stones and dirt, and the views get better and better. Approximate coordinates for this point: N 54'49'116 W 127'17'092. Elevation: 1,187 meters.

12. The path after the sign. It disappears and reappears on several occasions, but the general direction of travel is obvious.

13. The higher you climb, the better are the views of Bulkley Valley behind you.

14. You also start seeing the mountain river flowing from the Hudson Bay Mountain glacier.

15. You can get right up to the river after the first half of the trail.

16. Looking forward and to the left.

17. One more look at the valley behind us.

18. And now we are by the edge of the mountain river.

Here is Our Video of the Views from This Area:

17. Looking to the right.

18. Now looking back, with the valley and the river seen together.

19. An inukshuk is observing the valley.

20. About two hours after the start of the hike, the glacier itself comes into view.

21. How long it would take to reach the glacier would depend on the time of the year - it obviously gets smaller by the end of Summer. Here we can see the edge of the glacier where the mini-lake begins in the middle of the photo. Coordinates: N 54'48'942 W 127'17'992. Elevation: 1,550 meters (804 meters elevation gain from the start of the hike).  It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get here (a distance of approximately 3.4 km), with an average moving speed of 2.1 km per hour.

22. While specialized equipment and training are required to safely hike on the glacier, we went just a bit forward, seen that the glacier near its edge was covered with numerous stones, making traction easy. That said, it's a risky proposition, considering the melting season.

23. The glacier itself underwhelmed. It sure looks better from across the valley.

24. Here is the view of the same glacier from Harvey Mountain trail, which we hiked several days ago.

25. Zoomed in view of Hudson Bay Mountain glacier.

Glacier Gulch trail is a dangerous hike, and should be left for experienced well-equipped hikers. Provided you know what you are doing, this trail is definitely recommended for very fine views of the mountains, river, and the valley.


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