Trip 188 - June 1, 2020 (Monday)

Mount Pope Trail Hike

Mount Pope Provincial Park near Fort St. James BC

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Trailhead Location:
Near the town of Fort St. James in central British Columbia, approximately 160 kilometers Northwest of Prince George via Hwy 16 and Hwy 27.

Liked: Easy access to the trailhead via a short scenic drive. Good views from the second viewpoint, and 360⁰ view from the gazebo at the end of the trail. Shade in the forest. Several fine forest scenes. Benches along the trail. The lower part of the trail can be hiked in a loop.

Of Note: Some bugs and mosquitoes, especially in the upper part of the trail. Steep unbarricaded drop-offs at the second viewpoint. Steep access to the gazebo. Hiking poles and boots are recommended.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 24 (Stuart Lake) G3.

Related Websites: Mount Pope Provincial Park - BC Parks Official Website. Stuart Lake - Wikipedia.

Mount Pope trail is a moderately difficult 6.5 km hike, located in Mount Pope Provincial Park right next to the town of Fort St. James. The trail has three viewpoints, with progressively better views. A short scenic drive leads to the trailhead parking lot, which can accommodate about 10 vehicles. Plentiful parking is available along the access road, which is approximately 100 meters long. The trail is rather popular, judging by the numerous notes left in the visitor book inside the gazebo at the end of the hike. There are a few long climbs, but they are not too steep. The steepest part of the trail is right before the gazebo, though it's not that long. The view from the gazebo is very impressive. While there are no majestic mountain peaks in the vicinity, there is so much green and blue, with a huge Stuart Lake in front of you, that it certainly makes it a worthwhile hike. And the second viewpoint, while not as panoramic, also has some very decent views.

The lower part of the trail can be hiked in a loop, and climbers can extend their adventure by climbing a large rock situated along the Mount Pope trail near the end of that loop.

1. Highway 27 starts at Highway 16 just West of Vanderhoof, and leads to Fort St. James in about 54 kilometers. Here we are on Highway 27 North, entering the town of Fort St. James.

BC Highway 27 North - entering Fort St. James

2. Once in Fort St. James, which is a very small town, stay on Highway 27 (also called Stuart Lake Highway). The highway will make a left turn into downtown Fort St. James (a sign will point in that direction). You will then pass Save-on-Foods on the right side at the point seen in the photo below. The blue sign on the right side says "Campground. Beach. Marina. Scenic Lookout". The sign below that also promises a scenic drive.

3. Very shortly, Cottonwood Park will appear on the left side.

4. Cottonwood Park is located on the shore of Stuart Lake, and features this neat airplane statue.

Cottonwood Park Fort St. James BC Canada

5. Here is Stuart Lake and a small campground at the Cottonwood Park.

Fort St. James Cottonwood Park

6-7. Immediately after Cottonwood Park, turn left onto Lakeshore Drive. It's 4.6 km from here to Mount Pope trailhead.

8. Now on Lakeshore Drive, with Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic church seen ahead.

Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church - Lakeshore Drive Fort St. James BC

9. Continuing on Lakeshore Drive, we see Cottonwood Marina access road on the left side.

10. Lakeshore Drive smoothly turns into Resort Hill Road, which, shortly, ends at Stones Bay Road, where we need to make a left turn, 1.5 km after starting at Lakeshore Drive by Cottonwood Park.

11. Driving on Stones Bay Road.

12. A pretty house on the left side.

13. 4.5 km after turning from Hwy 27 onto Lakeshore Drive, a right turn would lead to Mount Pope trailhead. The sign with an arrow says "Mt. Pope Trail".

14. Mount Pope trailhead access road after the turn.

15. About 100 meters after turning from Stones Bay Road, we arrived at the Mount Pope trailhead parking area. Coordinates: N 54⁰28.199' W 124⁰18.924'. Elevation: 697 meters.

16. Here is the trailhead.

17. The trail in the forest is quite pleasant, with lots of shade.

Mount Pope Trail - Mount Pope Provincial Park British Columbia Canada

18. The bugs were not too bad for the first half of the Mount Pope trail, allowing for hiking in shorts.

19. There is some steepness, but nothing too taxing.

20. The first Mount Pope trail viewpoint arrives at the 1.3 km mark of the trail. The view is decent, but better views await ahead. One of the many convenient benches along this trail is located by the viewpoint.

21. The bench.

22. The view.

23. The trail.

Mount Pope Trail - Hiking in Fort St. James Area

24. At 3.9 km, the loop part of the trail ends. Coordinates: N 54⁰29.612' W 124⁰19.443'. Elevation: 1,062 meters. This is where we were attacked by about two dozen mosquitoes, so long pants had to come out of the backpack. The mosquitoes remained a noticeable presence until the end of the trail. At this split, you can turn left, return to Stones Bay Road, then hike 1.4 km to the trailhead, which is what we did on the way back. The trail to the top continues on the right side.

25. The trail to the top after the split.

26. At 5.1 km, a very short trail on the left leads to the second viewpoint.

27-29. The views from the second viewpoint are quite good. Just watch for steep unbarricaded drop-offs. Left to right.

Stuart Lake Seen from Mount Pope Trail

Here is our video of the views from the second viewpoint.

More videos are on our YouTube Channel.

30. Moving on to the gazebo at the end of the Mount Pope trail, with that impressive 360⁰ view.

Our Mount Pope trail hike trip report Continues on Page 2.

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