Distance from Vancouver to Lillooet:
Approximately 250 km, if via Highway 1 West and Highway 99 (Seat-to-Sky) North.
views of Carpenter Lake, Bridge River Canyon, and Marshall Creek Falls.
Access to Gun Creek Recreation Site, many trails and several FSRs.
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.
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
31. BC Highway 40 (Carpenter Lake Road by now) shortly after the
beginning of Carpenter Lake.
BC Highway 40 by Carpenter Lake
32. A substantial challenge on Highway 40 is frequent rockfall. Here is
an example, and some rocks are substantially larger.
Rockfall on BC Highway 40
33. Much depends on the sun, but Carpenter Lake looks great in many
different spots. At 54.2 km here.
Carpenter Lake between Lillooet and Gold Bridge BC Canada
34. Now at 63.1 km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.
35. BC Highway 40 / Carpenter Lake Road at 68.9 km.
BC Highway 40
36. Marshall Lake Road turnoff at 72.4 km.
BC Highway 40 at Marshall Lake Road
37. Just over a kilometer later, don't miss a neat Marshall Creek
waterfall. It (almost) hides about 200 meters from the highway, on the
right side. There is a trail to get to the waterfall. It's located by
Marshall Creek bridge.
Elevation: 651 meters.
BC Highway 40 Marshall Creek Bridge
38. The parking area is just after the bridge, but the waterfall access
trail is before the bridge. Here is the waterfall view from the bridge.
44. Carpenter Lake Road (BC Highway 40) and Carpenter Lake seen at 89.5
km from Welcome to Lillooet sign.
View from BC Highway 40 near Gold Bridge British Columbia
45. At 107.9 km, Carpenter Lake Road and BC Highway 40 come to an end.
To the left, across the bridge, is a
town of Gold Bridge, covered in the
following trip report. Straight ahead is a road to Gun Lake, as well as
a seasonal 4x4 road to Pemberton (via Hurley River FSR).
BC Highway 40 Western End near Gold Bridge BC
46. The rest of our trip report is dedicated to Gun Creek Recreation
Site (by BC Hydro), and our trip to the dry bottom of Carpenter Lake.
Gun Creek Recreation Site turnoff is at 99.9 km, 8 kilometers before the
bridge seen in the photo above.
Elevation: 665 meters.
BC Highway 40 at Gun Creek Recreation Site Turnoff
47. Here is a sign.
Gun Creek Recreation Site Sign by BC Highway 40
48. The entrance off BC Highway 40 (Carpenter Lake Road).
Entrance to Gun Creek Recreation Site by BC Hydro
49. The signs say a free registration is required, and will be
checked. However, the registration slips were not present, and no one
showed up to check them for the two nights we spent at the recreation
50. Here is one of the camping spots at Gun Creek Recreation Site. There
are 16 sites, 4 pit toilets, garbage bins, and even recycling bins.
Kudos to BC Hydro!
Gun Creek Recreation Site
51-52. During the Second World War, many Japanese-Canadians were sent to
internment camps away from the coast, and one such camp, called the town of
Minto, was right in this area. An info board speaks of that occurrence,
and a sign points to the town of Minto, which was flooded by Carpenter
Lake when the dam was built, but can apparently be seen when the water
level is low.
Town of Minto Information Board
53. After entering Gun Creek Recreation Site, turn immediately to the
left to get to Old Minto Townsite, as the blue sign says.
54. So, we drove in that direction.
55. Carpenter Lake is a hydroelectric reservoir with many hazards.
56. It was certainly cool to drive on the bottom of a lake.
Dry Bottom of Carpenter Lake
57. Nice views, but no Minto! It's either completely gone, or where is
it? We drove for 1.6 km and had to stop because of the buckled ground.
Driving on the Bottom of Carpenter Lake
58. A few hundred meters later, a large drop-off would stop all
motorized traffic. So, no Minto here, at least none that we could find.
Carpenter Lake Dry Bottom
BC Highway 40, despite all of its hazards, has numerous very impressive
views, and leads to many recreational opportunities. Highly recommended.