Marble Range Provincial Park west of Cariboo Highway 97 near Clinton is named after its unusual limestone karst formations. These mountains feature caves, sinkholes and disappearing streams, as well as cliffs, chasms, and crenellated ridges.
The park is located within the Pavilion Ranges, at the southwest edge of the Cariboo Plateau, and protects mostly alpine and subalpine habitats and ecosystems. The forests contain old growth Douglas-fir, spruce, lodgepole and whitebark pine, ranging into subalpine parklands and extensive alpine tundra. The karst topography is unusual in BC, and is protected in only a few other parks, mostly on Vancouver Island. Soils in the area are high in calcium, so they support a number of rare plants.
Marble Range Park is situated within the traditional territory of the Shuswap People. Three First Nations continue to use the park for sustenance, spiritual and cultural purposes. First Nations heritage sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act.
The 17,920-hectare park is a wilderness area that is not regularly serviced or patrolled. The trails of the Marble Range are popular with local hikers and horseback riders, including some of the best ridge hiking in the Cariboo, but they are rough and steep, and not maintained. Since trails are unmarked and tend to be obscure in places, visitors must carry and know how to use a topographic map and compass or GPS unit. Horseback riding is popular in the Marble Range, and may be arranged through guest ranches in the area. Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided.
Two notable hikes are Mt. Bowman (2,246 metres, 14 kms return), and Mt. Kerr (2,278 metres, 23 kms return) via Wild Horse Ridge. To gain access to the trailheads, head west at the south end of Clinton on the Kelly Lake Road. After 17 km turn right on the Jesmond Road. Stop after 23 km on the Jesmond Road at the Circle H Ranch. Park and request permission to cross the property, exiting through a fence at the rear where you will find a sign for the “Pipeline Trail”. Continue up the clearing heading right on a trail leading to a road continuing along the power line. A short walk up this road takes you to the trail/road heading up the valley. At 4.2 km you will reach a junction with the left trail heading to Mt. Bowman. The right trail continues up the creek valley to Wild Horse Ridge and Mt. Kerr.
A major hazard to backcountry users in the Marble Range is lack of water at higher elevations. In the spring and early summer it is usually possible to find and melt snow for drinking water. Later in the season you must carry all the water you need if you plan to camp in the alpine or subalpine. As for all backcountry areas, surface water should be boiled or treated.
Wildlife viewing is popular in the Marble Range as the park protects populations of California bighorn sheep, mule deer, cougar, and black bear – species that require large and diverse ecosystems. Visitors should keep their distance by using bring binoculars and telephoto lenses to minimize disturbance of the California bighorn sheep and other animals.
The Marble Range is excellent as mule deer summer range. Every year, California bighorn sheep migrate between alpine areas in the Marble Range and steep cliffs of the Fraser River canyon in Edge Hills Provincial Park. The migration is dictated by food availability. Sheep will winter in the warmth of the canyon, where tender green shoots begin to grow early in the season. Here, the sheep also encounter less snow, and have access to steep and rugged terrain for protection from predators. In early summer, the sheep migrate to alpine areas in the Marble Range. Over the past 40 to 50 years, many of these routes have been abandoned, with only a few routes remaining.
Marble Range Provincial Park is located in the Pavilion Mountain Range west of Cariboo Highway 97 near Clinton in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. The park is open year round if accessible.
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