Trip 212 - May 25, 2021 (Tuesday)

Horseshoe Bend Trail Hike

Off BC Highway 40 Near Lillooet


Distance from Vancouver to the Trailhead: Approximately 290 km, if via Highway 1 West, Highway 99 (Seat-to-Sky) North, Seton Lake Road & Main Street (Lillooet), and Highway 40.

Liked: Canyon and river views. A big rock with a tree on the side. A small pond with beautiful blue-coloured water. A busted old suspension bridge.

Of Note: Loose rocks and stones, uneven ground. Proceeding to the end of the trail requires navigating a short tricky stretch by the river. Hiking poles and boots are highly recommended (to the busted suspension bridge) and are essential (beyond the bridge).

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Backroad Mapbook (5th edition) Trailhead Coordinates: Page 52 (Seton Portage) F3.

As you are driving on BC Highway 40 between Lillooet and Gold Bridge, at the 32.1 km mark from the Welcome to Lillooet sign there is a substantial pullout on the left side. It's a good place to stretch your legs and check out a very impressive canyon view. Also, there is a short (less than 2 km one way) trail going down to the bottom of the canyon, and then heading past a small blue-coloured pond, along Bridge River, past a very impressive large rock with a tree on its side, and then to a point where the canyon walls become too steep and you have to stop, which signals the end of the trail. That's the Horseshoe Bend Trail, so named because Bridge River makes a horseshoe-shaped turn at this point.

Overall, this trail is easy-to-moderately challenging, but is full of large loose stones. Plus, if you would want to proceed past a busted suspension bridge (and see that cool rock with a tree by its side), you would need to negotiate about 20 meters of very steep terrain consisting of loose sand and small rocks. As this spot is within several meters of fast-flowing Bridge River, hiking poles and boots would be essential to navigate it safely.

1. We are at a large pullout on the side of BC Highway 40, at the 32.1 km mark from the Welcome to Lillooet sign. That's where the Horseshoe Bend trailhead is located. This is the same spot as seen in photo #21 of our BC Highway 40 trip report. Check out that trip report for directions on getting to the trailhead from Lillooet.

2. Even if you don't plan on hiking the Horseshoe Bend Trail, the canyon view from the pullout is well worth making a stop at this location.

3. The trailhead is located at the beginning of the pullout (closer to Lillooet than Gold Bridge). Coordinates: N 5051.463' W 12109.151'. Elevation: 518 meters.

4. A note on the chain preventing vehicular access to avoid spreading invasive species, invites you to walk down at your own risk.

5. The Horseshoe Bend Trail 100 meters after the start.

6. A neat view of Bridge River on the left side.

7. Horseshoe Bend Trail at 215 meters.

8. The trail makes a 180-degree turn shortly thereafter, and here is the view after that turn.

9. At 315 meters, the view of the canyon on the left side.

10. At 570 meters, a small neat pond on the right side, with beautiful blue water and even some small fish swimming in there.

11. Cool.

12. After you get through some bushes...

13...it's time to hike on the rocks.

14. Soon after the rocks, Bridge River comes very close to the trail. And a busted suspension bridge appears ahead.

15. Here is the anchor of the former bridge. Coordinates: N 5051.652' W 12209.612'. Elevation: 425 meters.

16. The bridge above Bridge River (no relationship).

17. Right after the busted bridge, very steep terrain presents a real risk of sliding into the river.

18. If you would manage to get through, the view of this neat rock with a tree is your reward.

Here is our video of the views from this location.

More ihikebc.com videos are on our YouTube Channel.

19. Moving on, we are at 1.65 km of the trail here.

20. Looking right.

21. Then, at 1.80 km, the canyon wall becomes so steep that there is no way to go any further without stepping into the river. Coordinates: N 5051.641' W 12209.834'. Elevation: 425 meters (93 meters elevation loss from the start of the trail).

Horseshoe Bend Trail is a neat short hike, featuring a cool blue-coloured pond, an interesting busted bridge, and an impressive large rock. Recommended.


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