by Jean Ann Berkenpas
McBride is a small community with vast wilderness recreation opportunities, for those willing to seek a little adventure. This is true for local kids and families who are embracing the options to get active and explore the outdoors in their backyard.
“There are so many hikes! Plus hang outs by the river, adventures on the sand bar, picking berries and bike rides,” says Morgan Green, mother to 1.5-year-old Forrest. She strives to give her son plenty of time to explore the outdoors.
There are a variety of beautiful and kid friendly hikes in the McBride area. The following are recommended by local parents because they are easy to get to and not very long or strenuous. This makes them accessible and enjoyable for all ages.
One of the most popular spots in springtime is the sandbar on the Fraser River. A good access point is the Phil and Jennie Gagliardi Park, located near the Fraser River bridge on Highway 16 and Raven Road. Melissa Boulianne recommends the trail located in this park as a great short walk for young children. The park was created as an eco-friendly solution to wastewater treatment. This wetland park has 3 km of trail and access to the Fraser River sandbar, which is especially popular with young children.
Another short walk is the West Twin Old Growth Recreation Trail, which is a 1.2 km interpretive hike. This trail loops through an old growth cedar and hemlock forest. Children can learn about flora and fauna through educational signage along the route. To access the trail, drive 26 km west of McBride on Highway 16. The hike starts from a small gravel parking area right on the highway. Because it is on the highway in the valley, it is snow-free for more of the year than the alpine hikes, and is also a good stopping point for those headed through McBride towards Prince George.
The Beaver/Holmes River Falls trail is another option for a short hike just off of Highway 16, 11km east of McBride. The trail is 2 km long, with the falls located just 500 m from the parking area on the highway. This is a natural setting, without railings, so be sure to supervise young children near the falls and river.
Although further outside McBride, the Ancient Forest/Chun To’h Whudujut Provincial Park, in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, is well worth experiencing with children. A 450m universal-access boardwalk winds through ancient Western Red Cedar trees, some as old as 1000 years. The park is located within a rare ecosystem of the inland temperate rainforest. A further 2.3 km of boardwalk provides access to unique old growth trees and a cascading waterfall. The park is located on Highway 16, 103 km west of McBride. It is the perfect stopping point to work out some wiggles on a drive between the Robson Valley and Prince George.
For those wanting to go a little further for an all day, or overnight trip, there is the Ozalenka Valley and Cabin, or McBride Peak. The Ozalenka Cabin is a 6.9 km hike, with another 1.7km to the lake. The cabin can be booked by calling 250-569-2596 and sleeps up to ten people. McBride Peak trail can be accessed by four wheel drive, and is only a 2.1 km easy hike from the trailhead, with the option to also do the 4.1 km to Mount Teare.
In addition to these walks, older children will enjoy the mountain bike trail network, located on Rainbow Road. Other outdoor activities enjoyed by young families are berry picking in the summer, XC skiing and tobogganing in the winter, the summer farmers market and of course trips to the local playgrounds in town.
More detailed descriptions of the hiking trails and how to access them can be found at www.visitmcbride.ca.