Named after Chief Alexis of the Chilcotins, who was Chief during the time of the Chilcotin War, the small community of Alexis Creek is located on the Highway 20, which connects Bella Coola on the west coast with Williams Lake.
Near Alexis Creek are Bull Canyon and Battle Rock, sites of numerous fierce battles fought against the Chilcotin, who were defending their territory against invasions by the Shuswap and Bella Coola tribes.
Alexis Creek is the service centre for the East Chilcotin region, and is the location of the Forest Service office, which is a good source of information on access to recreation in the Alexis Creek area.
Nineteen kilometres from the Highway 20 junction, the road crosses the Chilcotin River at Farwell Canyon, once the site of a native village. A bridge spans the spectacular canyon, carved through limestone and sandstone, creating hoodoos and other water-carved formations on the rock walls. The ancient hoodoo rock formations and native pictographs on the cliff south of the bridge are very popular attractions in the area.
Fifteen kilometres east of Alexis Creek, a roadside plaque describes the Yukon Cattle Drive of Norman Lee, who left his ranch in the valley in 1898 with 200 head of cattle on a 1500-mile beef drive to the Klondike gold camps, where surely his beef would fetch a premium price. Five months later, winter forced him to butcher the emaciated herd and load the meat onto scows, which were lost on Teslin Lake, 500 miles short of his destination, Dawson City. Lee returned home, empty-handed but undaunted, to set up shop in what is still known as Lees Corner today.
Visit the site of the historic Norman Lee Ranch and General Store at Lees Corner (Hanceville), 15km east of Alexis Creek on Highway 20. Living up to its name, the General Store offers a post office, a snack bar, laundromat, liquor store, guest rooms, fishing licences, and great Chilcotin coffee.
Eighty kilometres long and glacier-fed, Chilko Lake is the largest natural, high-elevation freshwater lake in North America, and plays host to the third-largest chinook/sockeye salmon run, from August through to October. The salmon eggs are a major food source for rainbow trout and dolly varden. There is true trophy fishing here, with rainbow trout as big as 22 pounds (10 kg) and dolly varden as large as 24 pounds (54 Kg). Whitefish also inhabit Chilko Lake. The lake is situated in the Ts’yl-os Provincial Park.
In Ts’yl-os Provincial Park (pronounced sigh-loss), experienced hikers can undertake a four-to six-day loop trek through the Yohetta Valley, Spectrum Pass, and Tchaikazan Valley. The easiest approach is from the Tchaikazan trailhead. To reach the trailhead, turn south at Elkin Creek, about 100 kilometres southwest of Hanceville on Highway 20. An alternative approach is via Chilko Lake and the Rainbow Creek Trail, a difficult 3-hour hike. A boat service to the Rainbow Creek Trailhead is available from the Xeni Gwet’in community in Nemaiah Valley. Also in the Park, at the north end of Chilko Lake, the well-marked Tullin Mountain Trail (12 km return) starts at the Gwa Da Ts’ih campground. This excellent day hike has an elevation gain of 2,400 feet. Since Ts’yl-os is a wilderness park with limited services, all hikers should be experienced in the backcountry and well equipped for route finding, first aid, and survival conditions.
The chance of encountering bears is much higher in Ts’yl-os Park than elsewhere in this region. Be bear aware. The wilderness park has two small campgrounds that tend to fill up quickly in the summer months. There are two developed campgrounds located in the northern half of the park; Nu Chugh Beniz Campground at Chilko Lake’s midpoint, and Gwa Da Ts’ij Campground at the north end of the park on Chilko Lake, reached via Tatla Lake.
The peaceful, forested Bull Canyon Provincial Park, on the Chilcotin River 10 kilometres west of Alexis Creek, has vehicle and tent campsites. It is a good place for fishing, and the aspen forest and wildflowers are beautiful.
Fishing: You can fish for trout and kokanee at Puntzi Lake, which features a fishing derby on the last weekend in June. The ice fishing is also good, particularly for whitefish in January. The Chilcotin River is a good spot for steelhead and sockeye salmon. South of Lees Corner (Hanceville) are numerous Chilcotin Lakes, some with rustic recreation sites. Contact the BC Forest Service in Alexis Creek or Williams Lake to see if a map is still available.
Paddling: Paddlers can enjoy a three- to four-day canoe route on the Nazko Lakes north of Alexis Creek. Campsites are located at Loomis and Deerpelt Lakes in Nazko Lake Provincial Park. The total round-trip distance for the canoe route is about 50 kilometres. To reach the park, drive 45 km north of Alexis Creek on the Alexis Lakes Forest Service Road.
Chilcotin River: Rafters and kayakers are drawn to the swift Chilcotin River, rated amongst the best – and most challenging – whitewater rivers in North America. The Chilko River, a tributary of the Chilcotin that flows out of Chilko Lake, is also known for its whitewater activities. Not only will the Class lV-V whitewater get your adrenaline glands fluttering, the landscape will too. The headwaters of the Chilcotin and Chilko lie in the Coast Mountains near the southeast corner of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. The rivers become runable in the subalpine regions, then they descend to the Chilcotin Plateau’s sprawling grasslands and arid canyons. Some of the most spectacular scenery is found near the Chilcotin’s confluence with the Fraser River. This is an esteemed kayaking and rafting locale, but because of its isolation, the Chilcotin sees relatively few rafters and whitewater kayakers. Chilko’s Lava Canyon scores well with rafters.
Hiking: There also hiking trails at Puntzi Lake, just over 7 km north of Highway 20, about 60 km west of Alexis Creek, and hikers can explore the badlands of the Chilcotin Plateau on trails in the vicinity of Farwell Canyon.
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