The Coast Mountains Bikepacking Route, British Columbia

  • Distance

    479 Mi.

    (771 KM)
  • Days

    14

  • % Unpaved

    92%

  • % Singletrack

    20%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    9

  • Total Ascent

    52,206'

    (15,912 M)
  • High Point

    7,450'

    (2,271 M)
The Coast Mountains bikepacking route traverses British Columbia's biggest, highest, and wildest mountain range. They rise steeply out of the Pacific as broken fjordlands on their western edge, lifting up to the globe's largest sub-polar icefields at their spine.
Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

This route connects a series of forest service roads, 4×4 tracks, and horse trails along the drier eastern edge of the cordillera from Harrison Lake, on the edge of Vancouver’s sprawl, to the hamlet of Tatla Lake on Highway 20. It travels from humid coastal lowlands, through dry canyons, high alpine tundra, and into the last slice of Wild West remaining on the continent. All too often, real mountain experiences begin at the end of the road or trail, ruling out travel by bicycle. This route provides a rare treat of pedaling through wild places.

In between stretches of wilderness, there is potential for rich cultural experiences. In late summer in Lillooet, sun shades go up along the Fraser River fishing rocks and are filled with salmon drying in the wind – a millenia-old tradition. Further north, the few cowboys, who make the Chilcotin Mountains their home, live decidedly removed from mainstream Canadian culture. The Xeni Gwet’in of Nemiah Valley, their territory steeped in history in the shadow of Ts’yl-os, wrangle wild horses, ranch and rodeo. The farther one travels from the pavement, the more welcoming the people, and the more striking the “Chilcotin hospitality”.

Due to the remoteness of parts of this route, self-sufficiency is essential. A critically broken bike could require a three day walk to the nearest ranch, therefore a back-pack should be considered mandatory gear. With pre-arranged food drops, resupplies are at most four days apart. Otherwise, the only store on this route north of Lillooet is in the native village of Nemiah and carries little more than soft drinks and junk food. Food can be shipped ahead to the post office in Nemiah. General delivery parcels are held for up to two weeks at most post offices in Canada.

  • Highlights

    camera

  • Must Know

    alert

  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

    drop

  • Seeing Grizzlies at the outflow of Chilko Lake in late summer (salmon spawning season)
  • The view from the top of the Potato Range
  • The trail up Gun Creek and down from Warner Pass
  • Chilko Lake
  • The complete absence of cars on most of the route
  • Navigating this route requires maps.
  • The Backroads Mapbooks (two books required) make the best reference for planning this route.
  • GPS maps that cover this area are the Backroads Mapbook GPS Map, Garmin Topo Canada, and Ibycus Map. The former has the most up-to-date information on small roads, but is often inaccurate on trail locations. The later, which is the only one that can be legally obtained for free, is a composite of 1:50,000 Canadian government topographic maps, which means it has not been updated since the 1980s. The Garmin option likely offers the best routeability, with information quality somewhere in between the other two.
  • An accurate trail map is available for the trail network between Tyaughton Lake and Warner Pass from Trail Ventures (can be bought at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver, or at The Bike Co. in Pemberton). Expect to get lost in the Potato Range.
  • This is bear country. Make noise to avoid an encounter. Carry 14m of 3mm cord in order to hang your food high in a tree at night. Carrying bear spray as a defense weapon, in case of a confrontation, is recommended (and is more effective than a firearm).
  • This route crosses First Nations land. Don’t assume you have a right to be anywhere. Be respectful, and get permission.
  • There are scheduled flights to Vancouver from Anahim Lake, 90km north of Tatla, and Williams Lake.
  • There are abundant wild camp spots along this route, as well as numerous established Forest Service.
  • Recreational Sites (free campgrounds with pit toilets and tables).
  • The two provincial park campgrounds on Chilko Lake, at the Nemiah, and at the outflow, are $11 per night per site.
  • There are stores selling food in Harrison Hot Springs, Lytton, Lillooet, Nemiah, and Tatla Lake.
  • Buy-Low in Lillooet is the only large super market stoked with a variety of dried foods.
  • The Nemiah general store has very little in the way of staple foods. Don’t expect to find more than rice, Kraft Dinner, cookies, and candy. If you’re lucky there might be some tuna and peanut butter.
  • There is also a general store, with limited hours, in Goldbridge, about 12km off this route.
  • Nemiah has a post office to which one could ship supplies. Most post offices in Canada will hold ‘general delivery’ mail for up to two weeks.
  • The folks who live in the area around Chilko Lake generally travel to Williams Lake every few weeks to buy food. With sufficient notice, one might be able to have some of more easy-going lodge owners add a few things to their grocery lists to sell later. To avoid a side-trip to Goldbridge, perhaps a similar arrangement could be made with the resorts near Tyaughton Lake.
  • This route travels past Tyax Wilderness Resort (Tyax Adventures) and Chilcotin Holidays, near Goldbridge, Taseko Lake Lodge at the north end of Taseko Lake, Tsuniah Lodge (serviced by air), Chilko River Lodge, Bear Lodge, Chilko Lake Lodge, and the Bracewell’s Wilderness Lodge around Chilko Lake.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • I know of one group who attempted this route, North to South, this past July. They found high flow conditions in Beece Creek, near the north end of Taseko Lake, and were not able to cross the river. Had they been coming from the south, this could have been an even more serious problem, as food resupply is a long way back. The solution in that direction might have involved much bushwhacking to a slow-moving pool, and a swim across (with bikes in tow, on inflated sleeping pads). Fast moving rivers are serious business. Later in August and September, flows are most likely much lower.

    The difficulty grading system, above, is hard to keep consistent from author to author, but in my routes, I try to use it as a gauge of the ‘seriousness’ of a route. I guess things like this is why I gave this one a 9/10, even though it has less technical riding than many others.

  • sn

    Hmm, in theory, by combining the various lodges and Tyax’s cabins one could carry not a whole lot of food and have a comfy bed many nights.