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Trip 190 - June 29, 2020 (Monday)

Francois Lake Ferry Trip

From Francois Lake to Southbank

Near Burns Lake BC

Francois Lake Terminal Location: Approximately 23.5 kilometers South of the village of Burns Lake (which is located 225 km West of Prince George via Highway 16), via Highway 35 and Colleymount Road.

Liked: A short, free and pleasant ferry ride, Francois Lake views, a cheerful attendant.

Of Note: The ferry is very small, and sailing waits are likely during busy times.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Francois Lake Terminal Coordinates: Page 7 (Ootsa Lake) G1.

Related Websites: Francois Lake Ferry Schedule - Province of BC, Francois Lake - Wiki.

Other Ferry Trips: Horseshoe Bay - Nanaimo Ferry Trip, Horseshoe Bay - Langdale Ferry Trip, Bowen Island Ferry Trip, Galiano Island Ferry Trip.


Francois Lake Ferry is located South of the village of Burns Lake (which is 225 km West of Prince George via Highway 16), and connects unincorporated communities of Francois Lake (on the North side of the lake) and Southbank (on the South side). The ferry is called Francois Forester, and takes all of 15 minutes to cross the lake. The ride is free, and the boarding is on a first-come, first-served basis, aside from giving priority to school buses and, one would imagine, emergency vehicles. Since the ferry is very small, it can carry, at most, a few dozen vehicles (as well as walk-ons, motorcyclists, and cyclists), but that number is going to be reduced, if large vehicles would board the ferry. In our case, the arriving ferry carried a loaded logging truck and a pickup towing a large horse trailer, and then an empty logging truck and a converted school bus boarded the ferry on the way back.

The ferry starts its daily run in Southbank at 05:30 AM, and the last ferry leaves Francois Lake on the North side at 11:00 PM. The interval between sailings at each terminal is 50 minutes to one hour. There are many rules applicable to this ferry ride, and they are posted on the information boards by the terminal. The photographs of those information boards are contained in this trip report.

The short ride allows to observe a fine-looking Francois Lake, with distant mountains on the horizon. We also liked having a very cheerful attendant on duty, who really seemed to enjoy his job.

0. In this photo of the map of British Columbia, located by Houston Visitor Centre, we have pointed to Francois Lake with a yellow arrow.

Central British Columbia Map

1. To get to the Northern terminal of the Francois Lake Ferry, get to the village of Burns Lake on Highway 16, and follow signs to Highway 35. Then, take Highway 35 all the way to Francois Lake (22.8 km). Check out our previous trip report for photo directions on getting from Burns Lake to Francois Lake. Here we are at the end of BC Highway 35, getting ready to turn right onto Colleymount Road (turning left here onto Francois Lake East Road would eventually lead to Uncha Mountain Red Hills Provincial Park, and to Red Hills Trail, which we hiked earlier in the day).

BC Highway 35 at Colleymount Road

2. Less than a kilometer later, approaching Francois Lake Ferry northern terminal.

Colleymount Road British Columbia

3. Here it is, with signs showing all the good places you can get to by taking the ferry, or proceeding straight on Colleymount Road. It is possible to do a circle tour, as seen on the map in photo #7.

Colleymount Road near Francois Lake Ferry Terminal

4. The terminal parking area. Coordinates: N 54⁰03.082’ W 125⁰45.419’. Elevation: 718 meters.

Francois Lake Ferry Terminal Parking

5. A sign of times.

Francois Lake Ferry COVID-19 Restrictions

6. Information boards by the terminal building.

Francois Lake Ferry Terminal Building

7. Here is that circle tour map.

Francois Lake Loop Tour Map

8. The terminal rules and information posted by the docking area.

Francois Lake Ferry Terminal Information Boards

9. Francois Lake Ferry schedule, boarding instructions, and safety regulations.

Francois Lake Ferry Schedule, Boarding Instructions and Safety Regulations

10. Francois Lake Northern terminal docking area.

Francois Lake Ferry Terminal Docking Area

11. Francois Lake Ferry "Francois Forester" approaching Francois Lake terminal.

Francois Forester Ferry

Here is our video of the ferry approaching Francois Lake (Northern) terminal.

12-13. And here is the side view of Francois Forester, which we observed earlier in the day while hiking Red Hills Trail.

Francois Forester Ferry on Francois Lake

Francois Forester

14. Francois Lake Ferry has arrived to its Northern terminal at Francois Lake, and the vehicles started to disembark.

Francois Forester at Francois Lake Ferry Terminal

15. A very cheerful attendant was directing the traffic.

Francois Forester Attendant

16. The logging truck was the last to leave.

Disembarking Francois Lake Ferry

Here is our video of vehicles disembarking from Francois Lake Ferry.

17. The captain was checking out the action on the deck.

Francois Forester Bridge Area

18. It's now time to board the vessel.

Boarding Francois Forester

19-20. The cheerful attendant is directing us to the leftmost lane.

Boarding Francois Lake Ferry

Francois Lake Ferry Attendant Directing Boarding Traffic

21. We are the first vehicle in that lane, with good views in the front and to the left.

On Board of Francois Forester Ferry

22. Looking left while leaving the Northern terminal.

Leaving Francois Lake on Board of Francois Forester Ferry

Here is our video of leaving Francois Lake (Northern) terminal.

23. About midway of the trip.

Francois Lake

24. Approaching Southbank terminal.

Southbank Francois Lake Ferry Terminal

Here is our video of the ferry approaching Southbank terminal.

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25. And we are there. According to our GPS, the trip took almost exactly 15 minutes, and covered the distance of 2.9 kilometers. The average speed was 11.8 km/h, and the top speed was 14.3 km/h.

Francois Lake Ferry Docked at Southbank Terminal

26-27. Leaving Francois Forester Ferry at the Southbank terminal.

Disembarking from Francois Ferry in Douthbank

Leaving Francois Forester Ferry in Southbank

28. Vehicles waiting to board the ferry for the Northbound trip.

Vehicles Waiting to Board Francois Lake Ferry in Southbank

29. We then proceeded to Houston via back roads, which were all in very good shape. The views were ok, though nothing too spectacular. Except this one - Nadina Mountain as seen from Morice Owen FSR about 30 km South of Houston (Backroad Mapbook Page 21, C7).

Nadina Mountain near Houston BC

Francois Lake Ferry is a short and pleasant ride, with good views and a cool attendant.

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ihikebc.com Trip 190 - Francois Lake Ferry Trip (near Burns Lake BC)