37+ BC Backpacking Journeys With out Reservations


January arrives and with it, the frenzy for summer time backpacking reservations. It’s simple to really feel FOMO (worry of lacking out) presently of yr.

The excellent news is that it’s nonetheless doable to go backpacking in BC with no reservation. The listing of locations the place a reservation is required is smaller than chances are you’ll anticipate.

This submit will share greater than 37+ BC backpacking trails that don’t require a reservation, based mostly on our private expertise exploring our dwelling province.

Please word that an simply obtained allow continues to be usually wanted (extra particulars later).

Back view of Gemma hiking along dirt trail through subalpine meadows, towards mountain peaks (Gwillim Lakes Trail)
Backpacking within the Kootenays (Gwillim Lakes Path)

Earlier than planning a backpacking journey, be ready to behave responsibly and Depart No Hint. If not, we could lose the best to get pleasure from these stunning areas with out reservations.

On the lookout for locations to go entrance nation tenting with no reservation? We have now a submit about vehicle-accessible campsites too.

Printed January 2024. There are affiliate hyperlinks on this submit. In the event you make a purchase order through certainly one of these hyperlinks, we could obtain a share of the sale.

Subalpine landscape with clear pond and waterfall flowing into it, with tree studded rocky slope in background
Exploring the subalpine of Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

31+ BC backpacking journeys that don’t require reservations

Let’s get began with our listing of BC backpacking journeys with out reservation methods.

We have now personally hiked all the featured routes within the first part, aside from one that’s on our 2024 ‘to-do’ listing (North Coast Path).

The vast majority of these reservation-free BC backpacking trails are located in provincial parks or nationwide parks (not ‘secret locations’). They’re well-established routes which were developed for recreation.

Please word that this isn’t a definitive listing of locations to go backpacking in BC with no reservation.

There are lots extra locations with much less improvement and safety (particularly within the Inside and North areas). I’ve purposely chosen to incorporate areas with amenities solely.

Backpacking for the primary time? Get began with our Backpacking 101 information and this backpacking gear listing

Back view of backpacker on pebble beach with ocean on right hand side
Climbing the Nootka Path

Juan de Fuca Marine Path, Port Renfrew

The Juan de Fuca Marine Path gives the possibility to completely expertise the ability and great thing about Vancouver Island’s magnificent Pacific shoreline…with no reservation!

Hear the roaring surf, camp on the seashore look at intricate rockpools, admire old-growth timber, take within the spectacular ocean views, look ahead to whales and extra.

Location: Southwestern Vancouver Island
Size: 47km thru-hike (shorter choices doable, 4 trailheads)
Common journey: 3 to five days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Could to September
Extra information: Juan de Fuca Path information

Side profile of backpacker on trail inbetween two huge tree trunks, with forest in background
Backpacking the Juan de Fuca Path

Cape Scott Path, Port Hardy

Hike to the tip of Vancouver Island on the often muddy but rewarding Cape Scott Path. In addition to being endlessly scenic, this reservation-free BC backpacking journey has an fascinating historic background.

Alongside the sweeping sandy seashores and old-growth forest you’d hope to see on a coastal path, there are indicators of human civilisation being surrendered to nature – moss-covered army highway planks, a farm-turned meadow and rusting pots and pans nestling within the ferns.

On the lookout for a shorter coastal backpacking journey on this space? Head to San Josef Bay. It’s solely 45 minutes from the parking zone.

Location: Northwestern Vancouver Island
Size: 47km out-and-back
Common journey: 3 to 4 days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Could to September
Extra information: Cape Scott Path information

Boardwalk path leading down to sandy beach in Cape Scott Provincial Park, photo taken at sunset

North Coast Path, Port Hardy

The North Coast Path traverses a few of the wettest and most rugged terrain in British Columbia. This troublesome backpacking journey is for bodily match, skilled hikers solely.

Those that do enterprise on the North Coast Path will probably be rewarded with unbeatable solitude, a excessive likelihood of wildlife encounters (whales specifically), spectacular old-growth forest and several other spectacular stretches of sandy seashore.

Location: Northwestern Vancouver Island
Size: 59.5km thru-hike + non-obligatory extension to Cape Scott Lighthouse
Common journey: 6 to 7 days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Could to September (however open all yr spherical)
Extra information: Information coming quickly – this backpacking journey is on my listing for 2024

Huge tree is acting as a bridge across a stream, with hiker standing in the middle. Forest surrounds the bridge
The North Coast Path exits onto the Cape Scott Path

Nootka Path, Nootka Island

Although a comparatively brief backpacking route, the Nootka Path packs a number of selection into these kilometres.

The untamed path winds its method by means of stunning old-growth forest, up and over rocky headlands and alongside beautiful stretches of sand and pebbles.

Simply over 80% of the path is instantly on the seashore. Essentially the most difficult sections are discovered within the brief forest sections, with big fallen timber to climb over and loads of mud. Accessing the trailheads is one other problem (float airplane or boat solely).

Location: Simply off the northwestern coast of Vancouver Island
Size: 35km thru-hike
Common journey: 4 to six days
Payment: $50 per particular person person charge charged by Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations
When to go: Could to September
Extra information: Nootka Path information

Sunset view from rocky headland on First Beach, with sun lighting up ocean waves on left
The primary tenting spot on the Nootka Path is First Seaside

Della Falls Path, Strathcona Provincial Park

Hidden within the deep inexperienced valleys of Vancouver Island is certainly one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. With a vertical drop of 444m, Della Falls is an unforgettable sight.

The Della Falls Path travels from the western facet of Nice Central Lake to the bottom of the magnificent waterfall. The trailhead is barely accessible by water. Guide a water taxi to succeed in it or make the journey right into a paddle/hike journey (as we did!)

Location: Central Vancouver Island
Size: 32km out-and-back
Common journey: 2 to three days
Charges: None
When to go: Mid-Could to mid-September
Extra information: Della Falls Information

Bridge over impossibly blue Drinkwater Creek, Strathcona Park
The Della Falls Path crosses the impossibly blue Drinkwater Creek a number of instances

Lake Helen Mackenzie, Strathcona Provincial Park

Lake Helen Mackenzie is only one of many potential reservation-free backpacking routes in Strathcona Provincial Park. I’ve chosen this lake to function because it gives a wonderful choice for freshmen.

The well-developed path traverses fairly sub-alpine meadows, gaining little or no elevation because it heads to picture-perfect Lake Helen Mackenzie.

Lake Helen Mackenzie could be additionally used as a jumping-off level for backpacking journeys to Circlet Lake, Mount Albert Edward, Kwai Lakes and extra.

Location: Central Vancouver Island
Size: 8km loop
Common journey: 2 days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: July to mid-September
Extra information: BC Parks web site

Side profile of hiker standing on rock next to calm lake in Strathcona Provincial Park, with forested hills in the background
Lake Helen MacKenzie

Bedwell Lakes Path, Strathcona Provincial Park

Two scenic backcountry campgrounds await in Vancouver Island’s subalpine, accessed through the Bedwell Lakes Path.

The numerous route will maintain you in your toes, with ladders, switchbacks, steps, big tree roots, boardwalk, bridges and rocky sections.

Take into account an extended journey and take the possibility to day hike to close by Cream Lake, a fantastic blue-green lake sitting beneath Mount Septimus (10km return).

Location: Central Vancouver Island
Size: 26km out-and-back
Common journey: 2 to three days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: July to mid-September
Extra information: BC Parks web site

Set up white and red tent on wooden tent pad next to calm Baby Bedwell Lake, with forested/rocky cliffs rising above lake. There is a large snow capped mountain in background
Child Bedwell Campground, the primary on the Bedwell Lakes Path

Sunshine Coast Path, Powell River

The Sunshine Path (SCT) is certainly one of BC’s finest long-distance backpacking routes. With a number of trailheads and comparatively simple highway entry, mountaineering shorter sections of the 180km distance could be very doable as properly.

With a mixture of previous/new development forest, coastal and lake sections, the Sunshine Coast Path is sort of diversified. There are greater than a dozen free-to-use huts situated alongside the route, all constructed by a tremendous crew of volunteers.

Location: Northern Sunshine Coast
Size: 180km thru-hike (shorter routes doable)
Common journey: 10 to 12 days or 3 to 4 day sections
Charges: None
When to go: Varies based on part
Extra information: Sunshine Coast Path information

Back view of hiker standing on top of rocky mountain summit in front of endless mountain ranges, with clouds below
Tin Hat Mountain summit at daybreak, Sunshine Coast Path

Kicking Horse/Nicomen Lake (Heather Path), E.C. Manning Provincial Park

The Heather Path is certainly one of BC’s high novice backpacking routes, providing huge rewards for comparatively little effort.

Solely a small quantity of elevation achieve is required to see the expansive mountain vistas and vibrant wildflower meadows. There are alternatives to summit a couple of peaks as properly (the Three Brothers).

Kicking Horse Campground is situated 12km from the trailhead, with Nicomen Lake Campground at 22km. One other campground (Buckhorn) is situated at kilometre 3.5 however reservations are required.

Location: Cascade Mountains between Hope and Princeton
Size: 44km return
Common journey: 3 to 4 days
Charges: $5 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Mid July to Mid September
Extra information: Heather Path information

Dirt Heather Trail path leading through brown wildflowers with backdrop of mountains
The Heather Path in early autumn

Frosty Mountain, E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Frosty Mountain could also be among the finest locations to see golden larches in British Columbia within the early autumn however additionally it is an amazing summer time backpacking vacation spot.

Whereas the forested campground isn’t certainly one of my favourites, the views from the rocky peak are merely spectacular.

If an out-and-back backpacking journey doesn’t attraction, there may be the choice to hike Frosty Mountain as a part of a 27km loop through Windy Joe.

Location: Cascade Mountains between Hope and Princeton
Size: 21km out-and-back (non-obligatory loop)
Common journey: 2 days
Charges: $5 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Mid July to Mid September
Extra information: Frosty Mountain information

JR is standing looking at camera, standing on rocks, part way up rocky ridge at Frosty Mountain, with golden larches behind
Climbing to the summit of Frosty Mountain

HBC Heritage Path, Hope to Tulameen

The HBC Heritage Path (1849) crosses the Cascade Mountains from Hope to Tulameen, traversing old-growth forests, mountain slopes, subalpine meadows and extra.

This comparatively new and difficult backpacking journey follows the trail of a First Nations searching and buying and selling route that later turned essential to British Columbia’s fur commerce.

Please verify the Hope Mountain Centre Fb web page for updates concerning path circumstances and entry. The HBC Path was considerably impacted by floods and slides in November 2021.

Location: Cascade Mountains
Size: 75km
Common journey: 5 to eight days
Charges: None
When to go: Late July to mid-September
Extra information: HBC Heritage Path information

Side view of blue-turquoise Palmer's Pond, surrounded by wildflowers and meadows and backed by trees and mountain views
Palmers Pond on the HBC Heritage Path

Divide Lake, Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park

That includes rugged and untamed terrain, Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park stands out as a outstanding function throughout the Okanagan Valley.

The hike to Divide Lake gives a possibility to discover this much less frequented park and encounter some stunning surroundings (and wildflowers) alongside the best way.

There are two trailheads – one close to Naramata (shorter however more difficult) and one close to Kelowna (longer however simpler elevation profile).

As soon as at Divide Lake, you possibly can fish, swim or hike additional to the highest of Okanagan Mountain, a 1576m excessive peak.

Location: Okanagan Valley
Size: 10km out-and-back from Naramata-side trailhead
Common journey: 2 days
Charges: None
When to go: Could, June, September (it is extremely scorching in summer time)
Extra information: Okanagan Mountain Park information

Front view of Gemma hiking with hiking pole in front of view looking down on Okanagan Lake
Climbing to Divide Lake with Okanagan Lake within the background

Quiniscoe Lake and Lake of the Woods, Cathedral Provincial Park

This listing entry could also be thought-about a little bit of a cheat because it’s not a backpacking journey per se, however a base tenting one. Regardless, Cathedral Provincial Park is a spectacular (and lesser-known) backcountry space close to the Okanagan Valley.

There are two backcountry campgrounds – Quiniscoe and Lake of the Woods. Tenting right here gives the possibility to discover a large number of 2000m+ alpine hikes, together with the improbable Rim Path.

Please verify the BC Parks web site for updates concerning path circumstances and entry. Cathedral Provincial Park was impacted by wildfires in the summertime of 2023.

Location: Close to Keremeos, Similkameen Valley
Size: Minimal
Common journey: 2 to 4 days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Mid-July to late September
Extra information: Rim Path information

Looking across rocky/forest area down to azure coloured Ladyslipper Lake, which sits below mountainous terrain
Ladyslipper Lake, Cathedral Provincial Park

Spectrum Lake and past, Monashee Provincial Park

Monashee Provincial Park is an underrated protected space east of Vernon.

Fairly Spectrum Lake is a favorite backpacking vacation spot of households and first-time backpackers. The comparatively brief path is forested and principally flat.

A big subalpine space awaits past Spectrum Lake, with a selection of campgrounds and mountain summits. The entry route is, nonetheless, fairly difficult with loads of elevation achieve.

Location: Close to Cherryville, Monashee Mountains
Size: 12km out-and-back (Spectrum Lake solely)
Common journey: 2 to three days
Charges: $5 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Early June to early October (Spectrum Lake solely)
Extra information: Spectrum Lake Path information

Spectrum Lake reflections, as seen through the trees. There is a mountain peak on the left, reflected onto the mirror like surface of the lake
Reflections on Spectrum Lake

Trophy Meadows Path, Wells Grey Provincial Park

The Trophy Meadows Path is one other reservation-less BC backpacking journey that gives an enormous reward for a low quantity of effort.

The trailhead is situated at 1700m, which suggests solely a brief ascent is required to succeed in sub-alpine meadows and the beautiful Sheila Lake backcountry campground. There are day hike alternatives from the campground as properly.

Mix a Trophy Meadows backpacking journey with some day mountaineering within the Wells Grey Hall space – there are greater than a dozen simply accessible waterfalls.

Location: North Thompson Valley
Size: 10km out-and-back
Common journey: 2 to three days
Payment: None
When to go: July to September
Extra information: Trophy Meadows Path information

Yellow and purple wildflowers with rock piles on left and right, with rounded mountains in background

Gwillim Lakes, Valhalla Provincial Park

Gwillim Lakes options an impossibly fairly panorama of sub-alpine meadows and ponds. Grandiose mountain peaks present a formidable backdrop.

The mountaineering path resulting in it’s beautiful as properly. The drive to the trailhead, nonetheless, is fairly bumpy (however properly definitely worth the effort).

One other nice choice for a backpacking journey in Valhalla Provincial Park is Gimli Peak. The primary attraction is a dramatic 2803m excessive ‘horn’ of rock rising from a ridge.

Location: West Kootenays
Size: 12km out-and-back
Common journey: 2 to three days
Charges: None
When to go: Late July to Mid September
Extra information: Valhalla Provincial Park information

Back view of Gemma sat on rocky wearing orange jacket looking down to lake below, which is surrounded by mountains
Trying right down to Gwillim Lakes, Valhalla Provincial Park

Kaslo Lake, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

With an amazing community of trails and summit alternatives, Kokanee Glacier is an alpine paradise for hikers.

The Kokanee Lake Path travels into the core space of the park and is a well-liked day hike in its personal proper. Staying a couple of nights gives the chance to base camp and discover past the crushed path.

Fairly Kaslo Lake is host to certainly one of BC’s finest backcountry campgrounds (with a superb cooking shelter for mosquito safety!)

Location: West Kootenays
Size: 15km return (+ day hikes)
Common journey: 2 to three days
Charges: $10 per particular person, per night time – BC Parks backcountry allow
When to go: Late July to late September
Extra information: Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park information

View of set up tent on wooden tent pad in front of subalpine scenery, with lake in background
Tenting at Kaslo Lake, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

Different reservation-free BC backpacking journeys

Nonetheless in search of planning inspiration? Take into account the next BC backpacking trails that don’t require a reservation.

The issue of those trails ranges from simple to difficult so you’ll want to analysis fastidiously earlier than planning a visit.

Vancouver Island and Decrease Mainland

  • Elk River Path to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park (2-3 days)*
  • Circlet Lake with Mount Albert Edward summit (2-3 days)*
  • Kwai Lake Loop, Strathcona Provincial Park (2-3 days)*
  • Carmanah Valley, Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park (2-3 days)*
  • Wildside Path close to Tofino (2-3 days)*
  • Raft Cove close to Port Hardy (2 days)*
  • Viewpoint Seaside, Golden Ears Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Panorama Ridge, Golden Ears Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Lindeman/Greendrop/Flora Lakes, Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (2-days)*

Inside BC and Rockies

  • Strike Lake, E.C. Manning Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Skyline Path, E.C. Manning Provincial Park (2-3 days)*
  • Poland Lake, E.C. Manning Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Skagit River Path, E.C. Manning Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Decrease Stein Valley, Stein Valley N’lakapamux Heritage Provincial Park (2-4 days)
  • Falls Lake, Coquihalla Summit Recreation Space (2 days)
  • Excessive Rim Path, from Vernon to Kelowna (2-4 days)
  • Tamar Lake, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park (2-3 days)*
  • Emerald and Cahill Lakes, Valhalla Provincial Park (2 days)
  • Monica Meadows, Purcell Mountains (2 days)
  • Boulder Camp, Bugaboo Provincial Park (2 days)*
  • Fish Lake, High of the World Provincial Park (2-4 days)*
  • Beatty Lake, Peak of the Rockies Provincial Park (2-3 days, through the Kananaskis Valley)
  • Monkman Lake Path, Monkman Provincial Park (3-4 days)
  • Hunlen Falls Path/Turner Lake, South Tweedsmuir Provincial Park (3-5 days)*

Please word that reservation-free backpacking journeys marked with a * require a allow.

Provincial park allow registration is out there on-line for 29 completely different parks on the BC Parks web site (as much as two weeks earlier than arrival). In any other case, get hold of and pay for the backcountry allow on the trailhead.

Please word that getting a provincial park backcountry allow for the above trails doesn’t assure a tenting spot – it isn’t a reservation.

There’s a vast variety of provincial park backcountry permits issued for these parks.

Back view of Gemma sat on rock looking ahead to spectacular mountain views in Manning Park. There is some smoke
Skyline Path, E.C. Manning Provincial Park

BC backpacking journeys that require reservations

Interested by which BC backpacking journeys require reservations? Right here’s a fast overview.

To study extra, head to our detailed backpacking reservation information.

Vancouver Island, Decrease Mainland and Sea-to-Sky Hall

  • West Coast Path, Pacific Rim Nationwide Park
  • Watersprite Lake close to Squamish*
  • Cheakamus Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Singing Creek, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Helm Creek, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Rampart Ponds, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Russet Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Wedgemount Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Joffre Lakes, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
  • Tenquille Lake close to Pemberton*

Inside BC and Rockies

  • Buckhorn Campground, E.C. Manning Provincial Park
  • Hermit Meadows, Glacier Nationwide Park
  • Eva Lake, Mount Revelstoke Nationwide Park
  • Jade Lakes, Mount Revelstoke Nationwide Park
  • Laughing Falls, Yoho Nationwide Park
  • Twin Falls, Yoho Nationwide Park (Iceline Path)
  • Yoho Lake, Yoho Nationwide Park
  • Little Yoho Campground, Yoho Nationwide Park (Iceline Path)
  • Lake O’Hara, Yoho Nationwide Park
  • Magog Lake and Og Lake, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
  • The Rockwall Path, Kootenay Nationwide Park (Helmet Falls,
  • Berg Lake Path, Mount Robson Provincial Park (partially closed till 2025)

BC provincial park reservations function on a four-month rolling window. So for those who’d prefer to arrive at a campsite on eleventh July, it would grow to be accessible to guide on eleventh March (until reserved as a multi-day reserving).

Nationwide Park reservations open in January, with availability opening for your complete backpacking season on the launch date.

Did you miss out on the dates you had been hoping for? Hold checking for cancellations or let CampNab do the onerous be just right for you. They’ll ship you a notification when there’s a cancellation.

Backpacking journeys with * are situated in recreation areas administered by non-provincial/nationwide park teams.

Serious about paddling journeys? Bowron Lake Provincial Park and the Damaged Islands are reservation solely however there are many different nice BC paddle journeys for which no reservation is required!

Driftwood on wet sandy beach, with scattered rocks and backdrop of forest
Raft Cove, Vancouver Island

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