Trip 264 - September 3, 2022 (Saturday)
Peterson Canyon Visit
North of Fort Nelson BC / Near Muncho Lake BC
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Peterson Canyon North Trailhead Location:
Off BC Highway 97 (Alaska Hwy), approximately 236 km
North of Fort Nelson and 9 km South of Muncho Lake.|
Liked: Several good mountain and creek views, an old busted shack, a small waterfall, fairly easy biking for most of the way.
Of Note: Tiny vicious/merciless/aggressive/cannibalistic flies attack in hordes and bite off chunks of your flesh, several creek crossings are required - wading is the only option for at least one such crossing, numerous deep cross-ditches, Drogheda Lake may flood the road, impossible to bike all the way (2.5 km if going North to South out of the total distance of about 9 km).
Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Approximate Trailhead Coordinates: Page 79 (Muncho Lake) E4.
Peterson Canyon, which we biked North-South for 6.5 km (out of the total of approximately 9 km) until stopped by a missing bridge, certainly turned out to be a memorable visit. For starters, despite a very busy hiking season, we have not met a single mosquito on any of our trips. Which is amazing, really. However, Peterson Canyon more than made up for that with hundreds of exceptionally vicious cannibalistic flies. They are about 1/4 the size of a mosquito, but aggressively attack you in large numbers and bite off chunks of your flesh comparable in size to a mosquito bite. The skin then takes 5-7 days to heal and looks rather terrible in the meanwhile. Because the flies make very little noise and are very small, they can successfully attack you before you can even figure out what's going on, and then it's too late. Good thing we had a long-sleeved shirt, carried rain pants, and had a mosquito head net. Otherwise, things could have been much worse. As is, about 50 bites later, we escaped relatively unscathed.
As for the Peterson Canyon itself, the trail is more like a forest service road, hard packed gravel, with lots of loose stones in some stretches, and is an old part of Alaska Highway. There are two ends of this road, both starting off the current Alaska Highway, about 225/236 km North of Fort Nelson and 9/20 km South of Muncho Lake (which has a lodge with an eye-wateringly expensive gas station - about 50 cents per litre more dear than in the Lower Mainland - fuel at Toad River 50 km to the South to save 20 cents or so per litre, if you can. The gas station on the South end of Muncho Lake had broken pumps, so, maybe, it is not as expensive as the lodge).
Aside from the flesh-hungry flies, which may or may not be present during your visit, the main obstacles for this trail are numerous deep cross-ditches, including several containing flowing water. As we biked at the end of the season, the only obstacle requiring wading was the first creek, about 480 meters from the start. We got lazy and did not want to go back to get flip-flops. So, took off boots and socks, took them into the left hand, started crossing the creek, and dropped one boot into the water. Tried to pick it up, but the current was just strong enough to move the boot out of our reach, which then floated around the corner and out of sight. So, got on the bike, rode back to our vehicle, grabbed a spare pair of hiking boots, got back to the creek, started going downstream, and, thank God, found our boot stuck in some branches about 200 meters later.
We then continued with our biking trip, discovered a busted shack and remnants of a burned down house, crossed many cross ditches, crossed a bridgeless Peterson Creek, and were stopped by a missing bridge at about the 6.5 km mark. Hikers might find a way to cross to the other side and proceed for the next 2.5 km or so to the South end of the trail, but the canyon walls were too steep to drag the bike up, so we headed back.
*All trail distances are based on a GPS odometer and are approximate.
1. Here are Google Maps directions from Fort Nelson to Muncho Lake. Peterson Canyon, being an old part of the Alaska Highway, has two entrances - North and South, with the North end, where we started, being about 9 km South of Muncho Lake.
2. We are Northbound on BC Highway 97 (Alaska Highway), approaching Peterson Canyon.
3. Passing by a sign indicating 21 km to Muncho Lake.
4. This is the south end of Peterson Canyon, where a sign says "Road closed, bridge out". The North end is about 11 km further down the highway.
5. Saw a moose hanging out near the highway. Any wildlife is likely to generate lots of stopped vehicles, so watch out.
6. Approaching the North end of Peterson Canyon. There are no canyon-related signs there at all. The only sign warns of a potential rockfall ahead.
7. Here is the North end of Peterson Canyon trail/road. Plenty of parking. The road is seen to the right of the highway, and we will be gong back (South). Coordinates: N 58°51.417’ W 125°44.645’. Elevation: 1,030 meters.
8. The trip begins. A fine road to bike.
9. This is also a Drogheda Lake Corridor of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area.
10. The boot-floating creek arrived at 480 meters from the trailhead.
11. We went down the stones to the creek, took the boots and socks off, started walking across the creek, dropped one boot, and it floated away.
12. Went back to our vehicle, put on a spare pair of boots, went down the creek...
13...and found our boot stuck about 200 meters downstream.
14. While looking for the boot, found a much better way to cross the creek. About 50 meters earlier, at 430 meters from the trailhead, there is a path on the left side, just by the tree seen in the photo below.
15-16. Go down that path and get to the creek. It's a much easier crossing, though wading is still required.
17. Then just follow the path, go uphill, and get back onto the main road within 100 meters. Here we are looking back after crossing the creek and getting back onto the main road.
18. Still a nice road to bike. At 620 meters from the trailhead.
19. But the cross-ditches keep coming, like this one at 715 meters. Some still had flowing water in them, though we did not have to wade anymore (occasional stone-hopping was required). Obviously, the situation would be vastly different earlier in the season or after a heavy rainfall.
20. A decent mountain view appeared around the 1.5 km mark of the trail.
21-22. Now at 1.62 km of Peterson Canyon North-South trail.
Our Peterson Canyon Visit Trip Report Continues on Page 2.
ihikebc.com Trip 264 - Peterson Canyon Visit (By Muncho Lake North of Fort Nelson BC) Page 1 of 2