The Native community of Anahim Lake is a splendid base from which to embark on horseback or hiking trips into the surrounding Chilcotin wilderness of the Itcha Mountains, the Ilgachuz Mountains, and the multi-hued Rainbow Mountains.
The largest community in the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake is also the eastern gateway to the southern portion of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park – and some phenomenal wilderness recreation.
Anahim Lake is the site of a long-established Chilcotin settlement, which was expanded in the 1940s and the 1950s by Carrier Native peoples who had gradually left their remote villages to move to Anahim Lake.
Nearby Nimpo Lake, the Floatplane Capital of British Columbia, is the busiest fly-out centre in the interior of BC, offering aerial sightseeing tours and fishing fly-in trips into the pristine and remote wilderness lakes and rivers of the Chilcotin. From here, adventurers can access isolated cabins set in magnificent scenery not matched elsewhere in British Columbia.
Location: Anahim Lake is located on the Bella Coola Hwy 20, 198 miles (316 km) west of Williams Lake and 84 miles (135 km) east of Bella Coola. The nearest community is Nimpo Lake, 10.5 miles (17 km) to the southwest on Highway 20.
Stroll to the north of town for views of the Coast Mountains and Anahim Peak, a cone of volcanic rock.
The popular A.C. Christenson General Store has been in business for over 100 years, and promises that if they don’t have it, you don’t need it!
Anahim Lake Airport, across the highway from the general store, offers daily flights to Bella Coola and Vancouver.
Be sure not to miss the annual Anahim Lake Rodeo in July, the area’s major social event and showcase for local talent. The menu of cowboy fare includes bucking broncos, calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
Summer: Anahim Lake in summer offers incredible rainbow trout fishing, canoeing, rowing and boating.
Winter: In winter, Anahim Lake offers skating, skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, and much more.
Paddling: Canoe the famous Blackwater River, through remote wilderness lakes, and virgin environment unspoilt by logging. Fish for the equally famous Blackwater strain of the Kamloops trout. Pick your drop-off point, and arrange vehicle drops and food caches.
Hiking: Outdoor enthusiasts with an historical bent can tackle one of Canada’s ultimate hikes, the ancient Grease Trail of the Carrier Indians, now known as the Alexander Mackenzie Trail. Hike into history, retracing all or part of the steps of the famous explorer on the trail that extends 420 kilometres from the mouth of the West Road (Blackwater) River, north of Quesnel, through Tweedsmuir Park to Dean Channel west of Bella Coola.
Fishing: Fish the pristine Class ll Dean River, which reaches the Pacific Ocean as one of the finest steelhead rivers in the world, a fact known and supported by local grizzly bears. Fly out to camp in a mountain getaway, or fish the multitude of mountain streams for rainbow and cutthroat trout, the lakes and rivers for dolly varden to 14 pounds, and the deep lakes for Mackinaw and Whitefish. The Chilcotin country offers one of the few remaining areas where all the fish are native to the systems. The streams provide exciting fishing, with the wild trout guaranteeing you action found in few other areas. There are hundreds of lakes up here, most within 25 minutes by floatplane from Nimpo Lake, so consider spending a day, or a week or two, away from it all in wilderness only found in British Columbia.
Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park is a roadless wilderness area north of the town of Anahim Lake, where Highway 20 starts its descent to the coast. The trailhead for the park is reached by travelling about 18 km north of Anahim Lake on Lessard Lake Road, then 64 km on a so-so gravel road. The park is home to mountain caribou and grizzly bear, and contains some of the finest fishing in the province. Hiking, camping, cross-country ski touring, and winter camping are also popular in the park.
One of British Columbia’s largest parks, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, is accessed from Highway 20, which bisects the southern half of the 895,000-hectare park, east of Bella Coola. The park encompasses an astounding diversity of landscapes and conditions, with the Dean River acting as a natural boundary between the north and the south sections of the park.
Campgrounds are located on the Atnarko River, near park headquarters at the bottom of the hill, and farther west at Fisheries Pool, near Stuie.
Canoeing: The chain of lakes connected by Hunlen Creek provides the opportunity for an enjoyable canoeing trip of three to five days. Leading from Turner Lake to Sunshine Lake, a distance of about 27 km one way, this route enjoys calm water, beautiful scenery, good cutthroat trout fishing, sandy beaches, and wilderness camping.
Hiking: The Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail runs through the park, but it’s not the only trail of length in the park. Tweedsmuir is serious backcountry hiking and camping. West of the park headquarters is the start of the Tweedsmuir Trail, which leads north about 35 km to the Rainbow Cabin on the Alexander Mackenzie Trail, and also leads to the Rainbow Range. The Hunlen Falls/Turner Lakes Trail (58 km return) along the Atnarko River begins at the Young Creek picnic site east of park headquarters, and passes through prime grizzly bear habitat. Don’t hike alone, and exercise caution at all times! Other trails in the south region include the Ptarmigan Lake Trail (24 km return), which ascends to Panorama Ridge, Lonesome Lake Trail (31 km), the Junker Lake Trail (21 km), Rainbow Range Trail (16 km return), and a couple of others.
Horseback Trips: Looking for something different that you can’t do at home? How about a combined fly-in and horseback pack trip from Anahim Lake into the Ilgachuz Mountains, or a combined fly-in/horseback fishing trip to the famous Blackwater River.
Horseback Riding: Horses are permitted on many of the trails leading from Rainbow Range trailhead, 30 km west of Anahim Lake. The Alexander Mackenzie Trail can also be travelled by horseback. You’ll also find good riding on the Puntzi Lake trails, 7 km north of Highway 20, about 60 km west of Alexis Creek.
Picnic Sites include, from east to west, Rainbow Range, just inside the park’s east entrance; Young Creek, a good place to take a break while driving the hill; Big Rock, Fisheries Pool, and Burnt Bridge, near the park’s western entrance.
Wildlife: Magnificent trumpeter swans winter at Lonesome Lake, south of Highway 20.
North of Anahim Lake is Moose Lake, located in the wilderness of the upper Blackwater, Upper Dean, and Entiako River watersheds. The area is an isolated wilderness area, home to a wide range of wildlife, including moose, grizzly bears and wolves. Visitors to the area come to enjoy the opportunity to boat, fish or hike in a truly remote wilderness.
Circle Tour: See the best of BC when you embark upon one of the many circle tours that take in Vancouver Island, the Discovery Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the interior winelands or the remote Northern British Columbia. The coastal tours involve exciting rail, road and ferry trips, which is half the fun of travelling in British Columbia. Scenic highways flank the coast, taking you through charming beachside communities, rolling farmlands and majestic mountain ranges. Start your journey here and now, by selecting from one of the Circle Tours, designed to assist you in planning your journey by road through beautiful British Columbia.