In the beautiful Skeena River Valley, amidst the Coast mountain Range, lies Terrace, so named for the natural terraces cut by the Skeena River over the centuries past.
Terrace is literally a city built within a forest; steep mountain slopes are dotted with beautiful hanging valleys, sweet and clean mountain air, and endless tracts of forest to stagger the imagination and rejuvenate the soul.
Originally called Eby’s Landing, Terrace began in 1901 as a telegraph station on the Dominion Telegraph Line. In 1905, Terrace was a port of call for sternwheelers plying the Skeena River, establishing the town’s important role in future transportation in the Skeena River Valley.
Founding father George Little settled in Terrace in March 1905, after tiring of the Yukon Gold Rush, and later built a sawmill in 1911. The pioneer spirit of the little town grew, and Terrace blossomed with the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1908, with the railway finally pushing through to Terrace in 1914, ending the exciting days of the riverboat. Terrace was incorporated as a town in 1927.
This area was home for thousands of years to the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas people, along with the Tsimshian from the lower Skeena and the Nisga’a from the Nass Valley, who traded with them and married them. Totem poles, and other examples of their art, can be seen in and around Terrace.
Today, the forest continues to provide the mainstay of the area, with Terrace being the main hub of Northwestern British Columbia, and the ‘Gateway to the North’.
Using Terrace as your staging point, the natural beauty, intriguing history and mystery of BC’s northwest is all yours to discover and enjoy. Host to a myriad of outdoor activities, visitors should bring their hiking boots and fishin’ pole, and keep their eyes peeled for the elusive ‘Great Spirit Bear” – the white Kermodei bear.
Terrace, and some islands in the Douglas Channel, is home to Ursus americanus “kermodei”, the rare white Kermode Bear. First Nations legend tells of the bear’s ability to take on the human form. It is said that these spirits help humans in distress, point out food supplies, and protect them from evil spirits. Named in 1928 after Dr. Francis Kermodei, director of the BC Provincial Museum, the Kermodei is protected by law. The Kermode bear is not an albino, nor is it a polar bear, but rather a pale colour form of the black bear. Its colour ranges from dusty white, to rust, to a shade of steel blue-grey, with an average weight of 250 to 350 pounds. This reclusive bear seeks mountainous terrain and deep forests, along with the salmon streams that cut through the northwest, feeding on wild berries, insects, salmon and small game. If you are lucky enough to spot a Kermode bear, you will join the ranks of the privileged few.
Location: Terrace is located on the Skeena River at the junction of the Yellowhead Highway 16 and Highway 37 south. Terrace is 36 miles (58 km) inland from Kitimat, 90 miles (145 km) east of Prince Rupert and 365 miles (584 km) west of Prince George.
Heritage Buildings: See the old Kalum Lake Hotel, a split-cedar log cabin, a miner’s cabin and a trapper’s cabin at the Terrace Heritage Park, a collection of original log buildings built from 1910-1935, which represents a distinct aspect of pioneer life of the Terrace area, along with a collection of over 4,000 artifacts. Also worth a look in Terrace are a B.C. Provincial Police Station (1912), the Kalum School (1914), and army buildings left over from World War II. Explore the George Little House. A restored home of the city’s founding father, it now hosts events and houses the Via Rail station, artists’ wares and a First Nations’ carving studio that welcomes visitors.
Visit the Terrace Art Gallery, and take a mural art tour.
Lakelse Lake Provincial Park offers a relaxing day at the beach. Pack a picnic lunch and join in the water sports and Family Nature Programs hosted at the park. Gruchy’s Beach is a 15-minute walk through forest stands of Sitka spruce and Western Red Cedar to the wide, sandy beach. Furlong Bay has 100 campsites and full facilities, set in an old-growth forest. In the Tsimshian language, ‘lakelse’ means freshwater mussel, which is a bi-valve mollusc found in Lakelse Lake and Lakelse River.
Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial Park at the south end of Lakelse Lake protects significant habitat for salmon spawning, over-wintering steelhead, migratory and over-wintering waterfowl, moose winter range, and Grizzly Bear habitat. Warm water springs in the wetlands drain into Lakelse Lake. The wetlands are also an important seasonal habitat for Black Bear, Wolf, Beaver and other small furbearers. Recreation in the park includes exploring the wetlands by canoe or kayak, fishing, hiking, backcountry camping, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
Kleanza Creek Provincial Park is just east of the city on Highway 16, located in a truly lovely setting in a canyon beside a creek. Ideally suited for picnics, the park runs along one side of the Skeena River and both sides of Kleanza Creek. Hiking trails lead through dense forest to spectacular views of Kleanza Canyon and abandoned gold mines. Overnight camping is offered.
The Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, located just outside Terrace, forms the heart of the Kitselas First Nation’s cultural tourism and stewardship initiatives. Three longhouses and an interpretive trail now offer visitors the opportunity to learn about ancient legends and stories.
Recreation Sites: There is a variety of recreational opportunities available in the Kitimat Valley and the Douglas Channel, with 17 recreation sites and 20 hiking trails in the area. Overnight camping is available at all recreation sites.
Hiking: Hikers should put on their boots and prepare to explore some of the most incredible scenery in the northwest. The Coastal and Skeena mountain ranges represent a paradise for all levels of hikers, and the mountains that surround Terrace are covered with wilderness hiking trails, traversing Alpine meadows and rough terrain. Terrace Mountain is a good three-hour trek, which at the summit provides a sweeping view of the city and down the Skeena Valley. Sleeping Beauty Valley is the quintessential Terrace experience, with overnight camping allowing exploration of the beautiful alpine meadows and lakes.
Nature Trail: Walkers looking for short in-town trails should check out the Ferry Island Nature Trail, and stroll along the shoreline of the Skeena River, where it passes through Terrace. Ferry Island also has campsites nestled in a beautiful setting of birch and cottonwood trees.
Mountain Biking: Welcome to mountain biking bliss – the diverse terrain is tailor-made for all levels of riders. Pick up a Guide to Recreational Trails in the Terrace area and be sure to visit the Bike Skills Park. The Onion Lakes cross-country ski trails, 20 minutes south of Terrace on Hwy 37, provide great biking in the summer months, with 23 km of trails to choose from.
Mountain Climbing: Terrace is also a local mountain climbing mecca…clamber up the stone walls at Copper Mountain, Exchamsiks River Provincial Park, Exstew Valley and Chist Creek.
Paddling: The Pacific Ocean, the mighty Skeena River, and a vast number of lakes and rivers are fabulous to explore by canoe or kayak. For a more adrenaline-induced water experience try your hand at whitewater paddling, water skiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing or even parasailing.
Shames Mountain, one of North America’s “best-kept secrets”, provides unmatched powder and internationally acclaimed backcountry skiing opportunities…and fantastic cross-country skiing. The cross-country ski trails at Onion Lake, a 20-minute drive south of Terrace on Hwy 37, have both classic and skate-skiing trails suitable for all abilities. The terrain around Terrace is ideal for snowmobiling, and exercise enthusiasts wanting to get out into the crisp winter air can strap on their snowshoes and hit the outdoor trails.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the North West.
Fishing: Wander anywhere through the Coast Mountains and the Skeena River Valley, and you’ll stumble upon a pristine glacier-fed river, stream or lake. For the sport-fishing enthusiast, angling adventures are only minutes away from Terrace, offering unparalleled opportunities for salmon, steelhead and trout. The Skeena River system is home to all five species of Pacific salmon, which return from the ocean to spawn in the rivers and lakes of their birth. Steelheading is famous in Terrace, and searun cutthroat trout and dolly Varden also return to spawn. And if you hit Terrace in winter, try the superb ice fishing! Try Lakelse Lake, off the mouth of Williams Creek, or anywhere on Meziaden Lake.
Golf: At the foot of majestic Thornhill Mountain, just outside of Terrace, lies the challenging Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club. Each hole offers the golfer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and impressive glaciers.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
strong>Bald Eagles: Join the hundreds of bald eagles that gather each spring (early March) to follow the Oolichan, a small, silvery fish, as they travel up the Skeena and Nass River system from the Pacific Ocean. Best viewed along Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert.
A must-see in Terrace is Big Bertha, a 50-ton spar pole designed to move logs on a logging site – one of only four ever used in North America. A tree would be inserted into the iron tube at the base and then cables would be attached to the top to lift the log. Brought to Terrace by Twin Rivers Loggers in 1952, the spar pole was found to be impractical, as it only yarded half a tree, had difficulty keeping the cables taut, and struggled to manoeuvre in the bush.
Events: Attend Riverboat Days and the Riverside Music Festival in August.
Enjoy the medley of sounds, sights and tastes at the Skeena Valley Farmers Market behind George Little Park, open on Saturday mornings from May to October. Amidst the hustle and bustle of over 70 vendors, you can find bedding plants, homemade cookies and cakes and purchase fresh locally grown produce. The farms and gardens of the valley are the most fruitful in Autumn.
Foch-Gilttoyees Provincial Park and Protected Area on the north side of the Douglas Channel south of Kitimat protects rugged coastal terrain, from sea level to mountain peak. Canoeing, kayaking, wilderness camping, swimming, rock climbing, scuba diving, and wildlife viewing are possible in the park.
Gitnadoiks River Provincial Park in the the Kitimat Range of the Coast Mountains, south of Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert, offers excellent sport fishing, with at least 13 species of fish, including Pacific Salmon. Canoeing, kayaking, wilderness camping, and wildlife viewing are possible in the park.
Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park is a spectacular park adjacent to New Aiyansh on the Nass Valley Road, 100 km north of Terrace. Two centuries ago the volcano erupted, killing approximately 2,000 Nisga’a people. The pocked lava plain, 10 km long and 3 km wide, is an eerily moonlike landscape. A fascinating feature of the park is the 100m high cinder cone where the eruption began, destroying the villages, filling the lakes, and forever changing the course of the Nass River. Guided hikes take visitors up to the lava cone, after which you can learn about the history of the Nisga’a people in the park’s visitor centre, built in the traditional Nisga’a longhouse design.
The Nass Valley holds many undiscovered wonders of nature and history. A dramatic landscape blended with the rich Nisga’a culture makes the Nass Valley a truly unique experience. Discover the splendor of the Nisga’a villages, cultural centres, traditional practices and natural surroundings. Explore volcanic landscapes, uncover rare botanical wonders and learn about the culture and legends of the Nisga’a people.
Kitimat, south of Terrace is well worth a visit and offers some fantastic hiking…if you’re up for a challenge.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Circle Tour of Northern British Columbia incorporates the Alaska Highway through the Rocky Mountain foothills to Watson Lake in the Yukon, linking with the Stewart/Cassiar Highway and Yellowhead Highway 16 in the south. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour follow the same route, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island north by ferry to Prince Rupert. Catch another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or venture east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.