Guide to Hiking in Hope, BC

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Everyone knows the North Shore, up the Sea to Sky, and even the Fraser Valley (well, Chilliwack) as the best areas to hike near Vancouver. But did you know that just 20 minutes beyond Chilliwack is the start of another epic area known as “Hope, Cascades and Canyons”? Not well-known, seriously underrated, and so darn fantastic I almost don’t want to tell you about it because a big part of the charm is how quiet and underused all the trails are!

Now, as some of you may know, I’m probably biased in my opinion because I moved to Hope myself in 2021. As a proud Hopian of course I am going to gush about all the reasons I love this area, but also as a Hopian, I have insider intel to be able to tell you about all the fantastic gems I’ve discovered.

The Town of Hope

Before I tell you about all the hiking gems, I have to share that Hope is SO MUCH MORE than the strip of Hope-Princeton Highway most people’s experience of the town is limited to. I, too, used to think that was representative of Hope but oh, silly visitors, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. In all the years I’ve lived in BC, the hundreds of times I’ve driven past Hope on my way to Manning Park, up the Coquihalla, over to the Okanagan, or all the way to the Rockies, every time I would stop in Hope to fill up gas, grab a coffee, or maybe even the occasional meal, I had only ever visited the big box awful chain businesses on the Old Hope-Princeton Highway.

There are some really great, local, independent businesses on that road now like our very own microbrewery Mountainview Brewing which also does cider, kombucha, and excellent food. There is also the best bubble tea ever at Hope Sushi, and the only fast chargers for EVs at the Petro gas station, but know that the actual “main strip” of Hope (aka “downtown”) is actually a few blocks north of that. It’s called Wallace Street. The whole street (it extends from Water St to 6th Ave) is full of so many incredible local businesses you won’t want to miss out on.

For food, Hope Mountain Cafe does an excellent brunch (their breakfast poutine is AHmazing) and lunch too (try their pho), Blue Moose has great everything from regular coffee to fancier drinks, breakfast wraps (even vegan and vegetarian ones!), lunch items like falafel wraps and soups, pastries, muffins… everything coffee shop, breakfast or lunch you would want. At the very end of Wallace just off Sixth Ave is The Rolling Pin Bakery which does fancy pastries all you city folk especially will love.

I live in a neighbourhood called Silver Creek just outside of the town centre so if you’re ever around here like heading to hike Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem (Dragon’s Back), or heading down to Silver Lake, Skagit Valley Provincial Park, or the BC side of Ross Lake, make sure to visit Owl Street Cafe. This adorable post and beam wood cabin used to be a coffee and breakfast-focused place but they have new owners who have brought the place back to life with a fabulous lunch and dinner scene, including some of the most high-end meal options you can find in Hope.

Also on Wallace Street are some great businesses you won’t want to miss out on. Hope Outdoors is a locally-owned outdoors store selling everything from bear spray to headlamps and multitools to snowshoes. Anything you could want or need for your hikes, you can find at Lilly’s store. Want a guidebook, or a good read for that long night in the tent under the stars? Stop by Nat’s store: Baker’s Books. Yes, that’s right, everyone in town is on a first-named basis, that’s how lovely it is here. Heading off to visit a guest and want to bring a gift? Stop by our Art Gallery to pick up a local artist’s work from pottery, paintings, knits, and more. Artisan’s Attic also has some nice items including local artist products, and one of the local realtors has a little shop called Riverhouse Boutique with pretty household items. Another of my favourite places to shop is the Muskwa Gallery on Water St just north of Wallace. It is owned by a super interesting Cree woman named Che Che. She sells lots of different works by local Indigenous artists including her own and the work of her children. If she’s not busy, introduce yourself. She is a wealth of knowledge and has the most fascinating stories to tell. I was a little intimidated when I first met her but she is so very kind, has been through some seriously hard things. I have so much respect for this woman, and it is truly an honour to get to know her.

HIKING TRAILS IN AND AROUND HOPE

Harder Hikes

I think few realize that there are some epic harder hikes right in or near Hope for those more experienced hikers. Hope Mountain (often incorrectly called Mt. Hope – and not to be confused with the nearby intermediate grind Hope Lookout trail) and Wells Peak are two stunning peaks to bag just outside of town (often people looking for a super long full hard day with hike both same day as the trailheads are at the same place). There is also Isolillock Peak for those happy with a bit of scrambling. Further down the Skagit is a steep hike up to Eaton Lake, and from there you could scramble to Mt Grant and/or Eaton Pk. For an epic multi-day backpacking trip thru-hike, the Peers Creek entrance to the HBC Hudson’s Bay Company 1849 Heritage Brigade Trail trailhead is just outside of Hope (the other end is in Princeton). You can buy the guidebook and topographical map for the HBC trail published and sold by the charity I work with called the Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning at our online store here. Join the HBC trail info Facebook group for the most up-to-date info about current trail status.

Wells Peak
View from Hope Mountain
View from Hope Mountain

Eaton Lake

Easy Hikes

The easiest hikes are the Rotary Trail in town along the river, Flood Falls, Thacker Marsh trail from Thacker Regional Park, Othello Tunnels (currently closed to due to 2021 flood and likely not reopening til 2024 or later) – the KVR trail from in town at the end of Kettle Valley Rd until the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park Boundary is open though, and just outside town is a network of short trails in Syéx̱w Chó:leqw Adventure Park.

KVR trail
Hope Rotary Trail

Intermediate Hikes

Intermediate trails in town that are maintained and well-marked include the Hope Lookout trail (a short but steep grind), Kw’okw’echíwel Stl’áleqem (Dragon’s Back), Thacker Mountain, and the Hope-Nicola Valley trail (currently closed to due to 2021 flood and likely not reopening til 2024 or later) .

Dragon’s Back
Hope Lookout
Thacker Mountain

Some other really great intermediate trails in town but aren’t marked or sanctioned as access requires you to travel over private property so I’m not encouraging you to hike them but just sharig that a trail exists and is marked on Gaia: Landstrom Ridge, the waterfall up Dog Mountain which can also be summitted with some bushwhacking past this (not to be confused with the Dog Mountain trail on Seymour), American Creek Falls, the teahouse, and an unnamed trail system maintained by mountain bikers accessed off Othello Rd where the pipeline work is happening across from the pit (sanctioned trails – go for it!!).

Unnamed trail off Othello Rd

Further up the canyon (Highway 1) are Alexandra Bridge, the Spirit Caves, Mt. Lincoln, and the longer Tikwalus Heritage Trail complete with free, FCFS camping, pit toilet, bear cache and picnic tables.

Spirit Caves trail
Tikwalus

Other Great Hiking Areas Nearby

Within an hour from Hope are four additional incredible areas that need their own guides, but for an overview:

Just a bit further south from Hope are a ton of incredible trails in Skagit Valley Provincial Park and Ross Lake Provincial Park like the Centennial Trail, Galene Lakes/Chittenden Meadow, Skyline II trail, and Desolation Peak (WA).

Skyline
Ross Lake

Just a bit further north from Hope are a ton of incredible trails up the canyon in the communities like Boston Bar.

Just a bit further northwest from Hope are a ton of incredible trails in the Coquihalla Summit Recreation area like Falls Lake, Zoa, Zupjok Llama Alpaca, Needle, Flat Iron, Little Douglas Lake, Jim Kelly Peak, Ilal Mountain, Coquihalla Mountain.

Ilal Mtn trail
Needle Peak

Just a bit further east from Hope are a ton of incredible trails in Skagit Valley Provincial Park, the Donut Hole, and E.C. Manning Provincial Park are Skagit River Trail, Rhododendron Flats, Dewdney, Skagit Bluffs, Hope Pass, Silverdaisy Mtn, Claimstake, Outram, Lightning Lakes, Skyline, Frosty, Heather Trail.

Frosty

Camping, Lakes and Rivers

There are so many provincial parks, rec sites and private campgrounds inside and near Hope, in addition to the massive expanse of wilderness for backcountry camping. Your options for camping abound.

There are also SO MANY gorgeous lakes and rivers for a post-hike dip.

I will update with a list soon but go explore, and/or pull up your Gaia and you’ll see. There is nowhere near Vancouver that is quite like this place. Your options abound, and your competition is limited. I’ve seriously never seen trails or lakes or campgrounds so quiet so near the Lower Mainland. I usually don’t encounter more than 1 of 2 small groups anytime I go out, year round, even on sunny summer weekend days!

Other Outdoorsy Activities

Not into hiking or watersports? There is a pretty famous bike park here with fun things for beginners to advanced riders. We also have an outdoor skate park, as well as an indoor skate park – HMI!

Caught yourself here on a rainy day and don’t feel like adventuring? Catch a flick at the Hope Cinema – the last independent theatre in our entire region!

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