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Trip 271 - September 12, 2022 (Monday)

Kitwanga Mountain Trail Hike

AKA Bernadine Mountain Trail Hike

Near Kitwanga BC (Hwy 16 @ Hwy 37 area)

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Kitwanga Mountain Trailhead Location: Western British Columbia, near the settlement of Kitwanga, off BC Highway 37 via Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road (for 4.7 km) and trailhead access road (for 2.7 km).

Liked: Mountain views (especially Seven Sisters mountain range), panoramic Skeena River valley views, volcanic rock views, colourful mountain plants, shade in the forest, few bugs.

Of Note: Trailhead access road (off Cedarvale-Kitwanga Rd AKA 3rd Ave) is suitable for high-clearance 4x4 vehicles only due to large deep puddles (otherwise, an extra 5.4 km round-trip hiking is in order). Remote traffic noise for most of the trail. A very steep trail in sub-alpine area (past the first viewpoint), which is suitable for experienced well-equipped hikers only. Hiking poles and boots are essential. The trail is a bit brushed-in for about a kilometer before the first viewpoint.

Northern BC Backroad Mapbook (3rd edition) Approximate Trailhead Coordinates: Page 34 (Kitwanga) F1.

Related Website: Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park - BC Parks Official Website.

 

Kitwanga Mountain Trail (also known as Bernadine Mountain Trail) is found in Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park near a Native settlement of Kitwanga, which is located in Western British Columbia off Highway 37 near its intersection with Highway 16. The said intersection is about halfway between the town of Terrace (100 km to the West), and the town of Smithers (116 km to the East).

Kitwanga Mountain Trail starts off a 2.7 km-long access road, which branches off Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road about 4.7 km from Highway 37. Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road is suitable for all vehicles, but the access road is rather rough and has very deep and long puddles. So, unless you have a high clearance 4x4 vehicle, getting to the trailhead would add an additional 5.4 km to the total hiking distance.

The trail itself goes through the woods, and then breaks into sub-alpine with absolutely gorgeous views of the Skeena River valley and Seven Sisters mountain range. Past the first viewpoint, the trail is suitable for experienced, well-equipped hikers only, as it is very steep out there. Up to the first viewpoint, which is located about 3.3 km from the trailhead, the trail is moderately difficult with several short steep stretches, and should be ok for any hiker in a decent physical shape.

Past the first viewpoint, Kitwanga Mountain Trail becomes more of a route, but the direction of travel is very obvious - West along the Skeena River valley. The views are very panoramic and impressive. For the best experience, head out as early as you can or on a cloudy day, as later in the afternoon the sun starts shining in the eyes when you are looking Southwest at the Seven Sisters, which is the main attraction of the hike.

Today, we traveled for about 1.4 km past the first viewpoint, for a total of 9.4 km round trip (plus 5.4 km of access road round-trip, for a grand total of almost 15 km). It appeared that it was possible to hike at least a bit further past the point where we stopped.

*All trail distances are based on a GPS odometer and are approximate.

1. Here is a Google Maps location of Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park.

 2. We are Westbound on BC Highway 16, approximately 116 km West of Smithers and 100 km East of Terrace, approaching a junction with BC Highway 37.


BC Highway 16 West by BC Highway 37 Junction

3-4. There is a Petro Canada gas station right at the junction of Highways 16 and 37. Make a right turn onto Highway 37, which eventually leads to Yukon and Alaska.


Petro Canada Sign by BC Highway 16 at 37 Junction

BC Highway 16 West at BC Highway 37 Junction near Kitwanga

5. BC Highway 37 begins.


BC Highway 37 North Start at BC Highway 16

6. Right away, there is a bridge across Skeena River, and Kitwanga Mountain can be seen to the left. We have indicated with a red arrow the approximate point where we have finished our hike.


Kitwanga Mountain View from BC Highway 37

7. And here is this bridge seen from Kitwanga Mountain with much zoom. Petro Canada is a red-roofed building on the right side.


Bridge Across Skeena River and BC Highway 37 View from Kitwanga Mountain

8. BC Highway 37 600 meters from the junction with BC Highway 16.


BC Highway 37 near Kitwanga British Columbia Canada

9. Make a left turn onto Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road (AKA 3rd Avenue) - seen ahead - about 900 meters from BC Highway 16 junction.


BC Highway 37 at Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road

10. Now on Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road in Kitwanga BC.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road

11. 500 meters later, the road becomes packed dirt with gravel. It's in a very good shape all the way to the trailhead access road.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road near BC Highway 37

12. There are a few bridges to cross, including this one at 1.1 km of the road.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road near Kitwanga BC

13. At 3.5 km of Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road (4.4 km from Highway 16 junction), keep right at the split pictured below.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road British Columbia

14. At 4.3 km (5.2 km from the junction), Kitwanga Mountain Trail access road appears on the right side.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road near Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park

15. Here is the view from the other side. Coordinates: N 5506.275 W 12807.684. Elevation: 290 meters.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road at Kitwanga Mountain Trailhead Access Road

16. If you have a high clearance 4x4 vehicle, you may be able to pass through large deep puddles and get about 2 km closer to the trailhead. Otherwise, either leave your vehicle here, or, which is a better option (and what we ended up doing), drive for about 400 meters further and park at this large pullout. This would extend your round-trip hike by 800 meters, but then your vehicle would be in a much safer spot.


Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road

17. We are now at the 480 meter mark of the Kitwanga Mountain Trail access road.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road

18. At the 625 meters, we are entering Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park. There are no facilities.


Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park Boundary

19. One of the several enormous puddles is at 695 meters of the access road. This being the end of a fairly dry season, one can only imagine the kind of a swamp this road is a few months earlier.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road Puddle

20. At the 2.0 km mark, there is a large parking lot - a good place to leave your vehicle and hike the last 700 meters to the trailhead.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road Parking Lot

21. Now at 340 meters past the parking lot.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road

22. At 600 meters, there is a small pullout. Your last chance to park or turn around, unless you are interested in...


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road near Kitwanga BC Canada

23-24....dipping your ride in this huge mud hole just before the trailhead.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road Mud Hole

Mud Hole on Kitwanga Mountain Trail Access Road

25. Kitwanga Mountain trailhead arrives at 2.7 km from Cedarvale-Kitwanga Road, 700 meters from the parking lot, and about 40 meters from the mud hole. Coordinates: N 5507.045 W 12808.765. Elevation: 610 meters. The box contains an optional sign-in sheet (no one checks it regularly, though, so you are on your own).


Kitwanga Mountain Trailhead

26. There is not much to see on this trail until the first viewpoint. Here we are at the 80 meter mark.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail - Bernadine Mountain Trail

27. Now at 2.45 km of Kitwanga Mountain (Bernadine Mountain) Trail. One of the short very steep stretches before the first viewpoint.


Bernadine Mountain Trail - Kitwanga Mountain Trail

28. The last kilometer or so before the first viewpoint is somewhat brushed-in, as illustrated by this spot at the 3.22 km mark of the trail.


British Columbia Hiking - Kitwanga Mountain Trail

29. At 3.29 km, we have reached the first viewpoint, where a small plaque had been placed in the memory of Bruce H. Johnson. Coordinates: N 5507.459 W 12810.380. Elevation: 1,295 meters. The average grade from the trailhead is about 20%.


Kitwanga Mountain Trail Bruce Johnson Memorial Cairn

30-31. Skeena River Valley seen from the first viewpoint. Plain and zoomed views.


Skeena River Valley

32-33. Seven Sisters mountain range seen from the first viewpoint. Plain and zoomed views.


Seven Sisters Mountain

34. Unless you are an experienced and properly equipped hiker, this is a good spot to turn around and head back, or proceed for a few hundred meters for better views prior to calling it a day. Very shortly, Kitwanga Mountain Trail becomes exceedingly steep and difficult. Here is the continuation of the trail.


Hike in British Columbia - Kitwanga Mountain Trail

Our Kitwanga Mountain Trail Hike Trip Report Continues on Page 2.


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