Trip 171 - August 9, 2019 (Friday)

Browntop Mountain Trail Hike

Near Likely BC

Location: South-Central British Columbia, about 34 km from Likely via Keithley Creek Road (for 22.8 km), Cariboo River FSR (for 700 meters), Cariboo Lake Road (for 3.1 km), and trailhead access road (for 7.2 km).

Liked: Fairly short trail to sub-alpine, several fine mountain views, lake view, shade in the forest, finding a weather station, very few bugs.

Of Note: Browntop Mountain access road (7.2 km off Cariboo Lake Road) is very rough and narrow - high-clearance vehicles only (2WD may be ok). The last two kilometers of the access road are brushed in - your vehicle would be scratched. Some loose stone fields in sub-alpine - hiking poles and boots are highly recommended.

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast BC Backroad Mapbook (4th edition) Trailhead Location Coordinates: Page 44 (Likely) B5.

Browntop Mountain trail is located near the settlement of Likely. It's a moderately challenging and short trail, leading to a pleasant, if not spectacular, alpine area. However, it's possible to hike there for much longer and, perhaps, discover some better views. The challenging part is getting to the trailhead. While Keithley Creek Road, Cariboo River FSR, and Cariboo Lake Road got some potholes, it's all manageable. But the trailhead access road from Cariboo Lake Road is very rough, and requires a high-clearance vehicle. We made it all the way to the trailhead in our 2WD rig, but a 4x4 may be needed, depending on the road conditions. Another major bummer is that the access road is, mostly, very narrow, and the pullouts are few and far in between. So, if two vehicles were to meet, someone may have to back up for up to 1.5 kilometers, with brushed-in conditions to boot.

1. We are on Likely Road, approaching the bridge across Quesnel River. The settlement of Likely begins on the other side. Please, see our Quesnel Forks Historic Site trip report for directions on getting from BC Highway 97 (near 150 Mile House) up to this point. This is the same location as seen in photo #7 of that trip report. Zero your odometer before entering the bridge.

2. The view of Quesnel River and Likely from the bridge.

3. After the bridge, the road is called Keithley Creek Road. Stay on it for the next 22.8 km.

4. At 2.9 km - stay left on Keithley Creek Road. To the right is Spanish Creek FSR.

5. Keithley Creek Road has many deep potholes - watch out. But, at least, it's somewhat of scenic drive in a few places.

6. 22.8 km from the beginning of the bridge across Quesnel River, turn right onto Cariboo River Forest Service Road. It's a very prominent intersection - there is a large information board about Barkerville and Likely there, as this road connects the two communities (144 km in total, some very rough sections).

7. Cariboo River FSR is super short - just 700 meters, but it does have a bridge across Cariboo River.

8. At 23.5 km mark, turn left from Cariboo River FSR to Cariboo Lake Road.

9. Proceed on Cariboo Lake Road for 3.1 km - the rough and narrow Browntop Mountain trailhead access road would be on the right side.

10. Here is the beginning of Browntop Mountain trailhead access road. Coordinates: N 5244271 W 12124914. Elevation: 959 meters.

11. It's very narrow road, rutted and rough in general, with numerous potholes. Maintaining the speed of above 15 km/h would be complicated.

12. And the last two kilometers are very brushed in.

13. Finally, we are at the trailhead, 7.2 km from Cariboo Lake Road turnoff. About 60 meters further is a large pullout, sufficient to park 5-7 vehicles.

14. Browntop Mountain trailhead. Coordinates: N 5242290 W 12122484. Elevation: 1,430 meters.

15. The trail through the forest is moderately challenging, with some steep sections, but nothing too extreme.

Browntop Mountain Trail near Likely BC Canada

16. In less than 3 kilometers, the forest starts to open up.

17. Sub-alpine has some neat views.

18. Shortly, we are approaching the cairn marking the end of the trail. After you leave the forest, there is some flagging tape to guide you, as well as a few metal poles, painted red closer to the top - this was likely done for winter hiking guidance.

19. And here is the cairn marking the end of the trail, 3.7 km after the trailhead. It took us 1.5 hours of hiking. Coordinates: N 5242306 W 12119914. Elevation: 1,952 meters (522 meters elevation gain from the start of the trail).

20. Nice view from the cairn area.

Here is a video of the views from the cairn at the end of the trail.

21. Also, there are two prominent ridges in the vicinity, and we visited both of them. Here is the ridge to the left. Also shown is one of those directional metal poles mentioned above.

22. And here is the ridge to the right, which we hiked first.

23. While proceeding to the ridge on the right, we found this fine mountain lake on the left side.

24. Getting closer to the end of the ridge.

25. And another cairn marks the end of the ridge on the right. Coordinates: N 5242308 W 12118858. Elevation: 1,975 meters. The distance from the first cairn at the end of the trail is about 1.5 km.

26. There are lots of further hiking possibilities here, including yet another ridge straight ahead.

27. Looking a bit to the left.

28. There are also some very prominent peaks in the distance. Much zoom used.

29. Another set of peaks, also with lots of zoom.

Here is a video of the views from the cairn on the ridge to the right.

More videos are on our YouTube Channel.

30. We then climbed the ridge to the left of the first cairn.

31. It was a challenging, if short, climb.

32. At the top, we found a large alpine area, with some decent views. Coordinates: N 5242464 W 12120042. Elevation: 2,024 meters.

33. Also at the top, was this pleasant discovery - a weather station set up by the University of Northern British Columbia, which is located in Prince George, which is nowhere near Browntop Mountain. An attached note requests not to disturb the station, and directs all inquiries to Stephen Dery (250) 960-5193 or

There are certainly much more spectacular (sub)-alpine areas out there, and the trailhead access road is anything but a breeze. That said, Browntop Mountain trail offers several good views, as well as a possibility to hike much further, and, perhaps, discover something even better. Recommended.

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