Babine Mountains Provincial Park (32,400 hectares), east of Smithers off Highway 16, is an undeveloped wilderness area full of impressive mountains, glaciers, and broad alpine expanses. In winter, it’s a very popular backcountry ski destination with an extensive interlinking trail system that leads into the open alpine regions. Rolling alpine plateaus, rugged mountains and an abundance of snow provides skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers with experiences for all skill levels.
The vegetation of the Babines includes sub-boreal spruce and alpine tundra. In the lower timbered areas are white spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, trembling aspen, black huckleberry, bunchberry and feather mosses. In general, the soils in the Babines are not particularly rich, and the climate restricts vegetative growth. In the lower areas of the park vegetation is recovers quickly from disturbances, but and in the higher elevations the recovery rate is extremely slow. One small area on the northern slopes of Mt. Cronin has been proposed as an Ecological Reserve to conserve the most northerly known example of the Whitebark Pine.
The most noteworthy species of wildlife commonly observed in the park are mountain goats, moose, black bear, ground squirrels, marmots and deer, as well as a host of smaller animals and many species of birds. Of the larger animals, only mountain goats make the area their year-round home. Occasionally grizzly bear, lynx and wolverine have been observed. Park users should always be aware of bears and other wildlife in the BC park environment. Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.
Hiking: This area within the Skeena Mountains ecosystem offers some of the finest hiking opportunities in west-central British Columbia. Glacier-fed lakes, rugged peaks and extensive sub-alpine meadows provide day and overnight hiking opportunities. The park is latticed with hiking trails ranging in length from 2 to 10 miles (3 to 16.5 km). There are a lot of day-hike trails that can be knitted together into two-day or three-day loops through the park.
Horses are permitted on Harvey Mountain Trail, Silver King Basin Trail, Onion Mountain Road/Trail, Cronin Creek Road/Trail and Higgins Creek Trail. Horseback riders must have a written letter of permission before heading out on the Lyon Creek Trail. This can be obtained from BC Parks in Smithers.
Camping: Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no facilities or formal campsites are provided. Campsite reservations are not accepted for Babine Mountains Provincial Park. The Joe L’Orsa Cabin is located in the beautiful Silver King Basin. The cabin will sleep 15-20 people comfortably and is subject to the first-come, first-serve rule. There is a fee to use this public facility. This can be paid in advance to BC Parks in Smithers or deposited into a fee vault box located at the cabin.
Mountain Biking: The Babine Mountains have many trails that are open to the mountain biker, including the Harvey Mountain Trail, The Silver King Basin Trail, Onion Mountain Road, Cronin Creek Trail, and Higgins Creek Trail. Many of the trails are also open, at least partway, to four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs.
Skiing: On the east side of the Bulkley River Valley, the Babine Mountains Provincial Park has an extensive system of trails open to skiers and snowshoers. Cross-country routes from trailheads along Driftwood Road east of Hwy 16 lead to Driftwood Canyon, Silver King Basin, and Harvey Mountain. Skiers follow an old mining road in Silver King Basin for almost 7 miles (11 km) to reach the subalpine region.
Snowmobiling: BC Parks, in consultation with various user groups, has designated certain areas of the park for snowmobiling. Please respect these boundaries. Skiers and snowshoers may travel in the designated snowmobile area if they wish. If you choose to do so, yield to snowmobilers, as you can hear them coming but they can’t hear you.
For horseback, angling, and backcountry adventure tours, contact local guides and outfitters in the Smithers and Houston area. Populations are small in the northwest, and almost everyone knows everyone else. Contact the local Tourist Visitor Centres in Smithers and Houston for more information.
Babine Mountains Provincial Park is located off a gravel road 9 miles (15 km) east of Smithers. Follow the signs to Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park. The parking lot is 5 km northeast of Driftwood Canyon.
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