Trip 209 - May 20, 2021 (Thursday)

BC Highway 40 Trip

Lillooet to Gold Bridge

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Distance from Vancouver to Lillooet: Approximately 250 km, if via Highway 1 West and Highway 99 (Seat-to-Sky) North.

Liked: Fine views of Carpenter Lake, Bridge River Canyon, and Marshall Creek Falls. Access to Gun Creek Recreation Site, many trails and several FSRs.

Of Note: Frequently narrow and winding road with steep unbarricaded drop-offs. Much of the road is gravel. Dust from passing vehicles on gravel surface, especially along Carpenter Lake. Rockfall hazard. Numerous large and small rocks on the road. Avalanche hazard in the winter season. No cell phone signal for most of the road.

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Backroad Mapbook (5th edition) Coordinates: Page 53 (Lillooet) C6-B5-A4, Page 52 (Seton Portage) G4-F3-E3-E4-D5-C5-B4-A4, Page 51 (Gold Bridge) G4-F3-E3-D3-C3-B3.

BC Highway 40 runs for just over 100 kilometers from the town of Lillooet to a tiny community of Gold Bridge. Along the way, this semi-dangerous, partially unpaved road passes by some very impressive views. Interestingly, this highway does not appear to be officially numbered. Aside from ONE mentioning on a sign in Lillooet (indicated with a red arrow in photo #6), there isn't a single sign along this highway showing its number. The number 40, however, does appear in maps, and many folks in BC do know what "Highway 40" refers to. There are three roads which compose Highway 40: it starts in Lillooet where Moha Road begins off Main Street. Shortly, Moha Road turns into Bridge River Road (also known as Lillooet-Pioneer Road). Finally, at Terzaghi Dam, Carpenter Lake Road along Carpenter Lake takes over as Highway 40 all the way to Gold Bridge.

The main difficulty is watching the road while checking out all the great views around you. Considering the number of blind corners, the need to dodge numerous small and large rocks, and steep unbarricaded drop-offs, it's much safer to pull over for a particularly good view, even with traffic being quite light on this particular highway.

Also, Highway 40 does get used by logging trucks and other industrial traffic, so watch out for that too, especially on a particularly narrow stretches of the road.

BC Highway 40 starts in the town of Lillooet, and there are two ways to get there from Vancouver: first is Highway 1 East to Lytton via Fraser Valley-Hope-Yale-Boston Bar, then take Highway 12 from Lytton to Lillooet. Or, like we did this time, Highway 1 West to Horseshoe Bay, then Highway 99 (Sea-to-Sky) via Squamish-Whistler-Pemberton to Lillooet. The latter is a more scenic, albeit a more challenging drive, with steep grades past Pemberton. If driving on Highway 97 South towards Cache Creek, turn right onto Highway 99 a few kilometers before Cache Creek, and you'll get to Lillooet that way too.

1-2. Here we are on Highway 99, driving from Pemberton and approaching an intersection where turning right would shortly lead to the beginning of Highway 12 (to Lytton) and continuation of Highway 99 (to Cache Creek). But, driving straight, would lead to Lillooet and (over 100 kilometers later) Gold Bridge via Highway 40. The red arrow points to a "Welcome to Lillooet" sign. All the mileage in this trip report is based on this sign as a starting point, so zero your odometer at that sign if you want to follow our mileage markers.


BC Highway 99 near Lillooet

3. We went straight at the intersection shown above, and here is a distance info sign (shown with a green arrow in photo #2). Shalalth and Seton Portage can be reached via Highway 40 and Mission Mountain Road - the turnoff is at Terzaghi Dam 51 km later.


Seton Lake Road Lillooet BC Canada

4. Just around the corner, another sign indicates that a right turn is required to reach Gold Bridge and Seton Portage. This short stretch between the intersection seen in photos #1 & 2, and Main Street seen straight ahead, is called Seton Lake Road.


Seton Lake Road - Lillooet BC

5. Now on Main Street in downtown Lillooet. To hike a very fine Red Rock Trail, turn left at 6th Avenue.


Main Street Lillooet BC

6. Highway 40 starts where Moha Road begins off Main Street, 3.3 kilometers from Welcome to Lillooet sign. We are approaching that left turn. Canco gas station (located adjacent to KalTire) serves only 87 grade gasoline, as well as diesel, and it's your last chance to fuel up before Gold Bridge. Note the red arrow in the photo below - it points to the only Highway 40 sign reference that we saw on this trip.


Main Street Lillooet

7-8. Turning left from Main Street onto Moha Road. BC Highway 40 begins here. There is a Buy-Low food store immediately to the right after you make that left turn, and it's the last substantial food store on this trip.


Main Street at Moha Road Lillooet British Columbia

9. Having turned onto BC Highway 40 / Moha Road, we see a sign with distances to various destinations.


Moha Road Lillooet

10. Moha Road passes by some residences.


Moha Road Lillooet

11. Approaching a bridge across Bridge River.


BC Highway 40 near Lillooet

12-13. Here it is, 9.3 km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.


Bridge Across Bridge River near Lillooet BC

14. Bridge River view from the bridge.


Bridge River British Columbia

15. Just a few hundred meters later, at 9.7 km, West Pavilion FSR starts on the right side. It leads in just under 12 km to Camelsfoot Peak Trail, which we hiked a few days later.


BC Highway 40 at West Pavilion FSR

16. BC Highway 40 at 18.6 km after the Welcome to Lillooet sign. By this time it is probably already called Bridge River Road / Lillooet-Pioneer Road.


BC Highway 40

17. At 21.4 km, asphalt turns into gravel. The road then switches between gravel and asphalt several times.


Highway 40 British Columbia Canada

18. A fine view of Bridge River and canyon at 21.5 km.


Bridge River seen from BC Highway 40

Here is our video of driving on Highway 40 around 23 km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.

More ihikebc.com videos are on our YouTube Channel.

19. The good views keep coming one after another. At 24.1 km here.


BC Highway 40 between Lillooet and Gold Bridge

20. Now at 30.3 km after the Welcome to Lillooet sign.


BC Highway 40

21. At 32.1 km, there is a large pullout on the left side. There is a great Bridge River and canyon view here, as well as a Horseshoe Bend Trail which gets down to the river, and which we hiked a few days later.


BC Highway 40 at the Horseshoe Bend Pullout

22. The view from the pullout.


Horseshoe Bend Canyon View from BC Highway 40 Pullout

23. Moving on, at 34.1 km Yalakom FSR starts on the right side.


BC Highway 40 at Yalakom FSR Turnoff

24. There is a series of tight switchbacks shortly thereafter, and here is a view of Highway 40, Bridge River and the Canyon from around that area, at 35.1 km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.


British Columbia Highway 40

25. At 40.4 km, a large rock is hanging right above the highway, and there are some large cracks there, so avoid stopping under that rock, as it might not stay there for much longer.


Highway 40 British Columbia

26. BC Highway 40 (Bridge River Road / Lillooet-Pioneer Road) at 45.8 km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.


BC Highway 40

27. At 50.9 km, we are approaching Terzaghi Dam and a major intersection, where a left turn would lead to Seton Portage and Shalalth, while going straight (this would now be Carpenter Lake Road) would be the continuation of BC Highway 40, and would lead to Gold Bridge and Bralorne.


BC Highway 40 near Terzaghi Dam

28. Here is that intersection, at 51.2 km. Coordinates: N 5047.393' W 12213.486'. Elevation: 643 meters.


BC Highway 40 at Mission Mountain Road

29. Looking left, this is Mission Mountain Road to Shalalth and Seton Portage.


Mission Mountain Road at BC Highway 40

30. Except today wasn't a good day to visit.


Shalalth and Seton Portage Closed due to Covid

31. Here is a view of Carpenter Lake (a hydroelectric reservoir), which begins at this intersection. The great views are about to start arriving in abundance.


Carpenter Lake British Columbia Canada

Our BC Highway 40 Trip Report Continues on Page 2.


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