This trip is an absolutely awesome adventure and one that I think should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Located at high elevation on the east slope of the Coast Range the area features seven lakes with short linking creeks and portages. Because there is no road access, paddlers and hikers typically fly in via floatplane, and either fly or hike out via the16-km Hunlen Falls Trail. I recommend allotting 5-7 days to hike and canoe this adventure with July, August and the first half of September typically being the best months to paddle the lake chain and hike in the alpine. Beware of bugs depending on the time of year they can be nasty in this area!!
We tackled this trip with our family when the kids were 1, 5 and 7 and we also brought my parents aka Grambo and Grampy with us. We flew in to Ptarmigan lake, hiked down and paddled the Turner Lake chain and then hiked out to the Atnarko Valley (Tote road) and our truck
To start the trip we departed from Nimpo, flying in to Ptarmigan Lake with Tweedsmuir Air in a Beaver float plane. We asked the pilot to stop at Turner Lake on route to Ptarmigan so we could drop off our canoe tripping supplies in the bear cache in order to keep our hiking load light! Only our camping gear and a days worth of food came in all the way to Ptarmigan Lake with us
Ptarmigan Lake is a stunning lake surround by fabulous alpine hiking
We spent the day exploring and hiking before camping for the night and then hiking the trail from Ptarmigan down to Hunlen Falls and Turner Lake.
Packing light for us was key as little Ryan was my backpack the entire time, which puts my gear into Alex’s pack! – The older two kids carried small packs with their snacks and sleeping bags
Arriving at Hunlen Falls Turner Lake after a 10km hike we set about relaxing and viewing the falls.
After grabbing all of our cached food and canoe gear from the bear cache we loaded our canoes and began canoeing and portaging the lake chain.
Canoes, paddles and pfds are onsite at the Turner Lake campsite and can be prebooked for use
We base camped at the Junker Lake campsite and did a day trip canoe hike to the end of the chain and Sunshine Lake.
The final day saw us back at Turner Lake returning the canoes and loading our back packs for the 16km trek down the switchbacks to Stillwater Lake and then on to the Tote road where our pickup was parked for the drive back home
- Tweedsmuir Air is a good option for flying in to the park
- Depending on the time of year bugs can be bad – bug jackets recommended
- Canoes and life jackets on site at Turner Lake
- you need to be BEAR AWARE in the area – all campsites have designated bear caches
- BC Parks info
- If you are hiking out to the Tote Road check on the road conditions – you may need to hike further down the road for a suitable vehicle pick up spot
- Bella Coola Vehicle rentals might be an option for organizing a vehicle shuttle/rental
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