Grey craggy peaks, forest clad slopes and a crystal clear lake paved with cobblestones awaits you in the Chilcotin. If you’re a bikepacker or adventure rider who likes rustic rental cabins and old fashioned western hospitality, then Tatlayoko Lake should be your next weekend getaway.
This glacier-fed lake lies between the coast mountain’s “Niut Range” and the interior’s “Potatoe Range,” three hours southwest of William’s Lake. Tatlayoko Valley is south facing and covered with Douglas fir, pine, trembling aspen and grassy meadows filled with lazy cattle. This is a ranching community with approximately 75 mailboxes, but many go unused. The lake is also a hot windsurfing destination.
We rented a rustic loft from Audra Peterson, a local school teacher and former ecologist. Audra and her partner Don live off of home-grown veggies and wild game. They are healthy, wonderful people.
Every morning a friendly mountain horse and an intense sunrise to the west greeted us. Coffee and oatmeal never tasted so good.
Rustic outbuildings with snowshoes, antlers and skulls dotted the ranch. All the major apex predators such as black and grizzly bear as well as wolves inhabit this area. Old logging roads provide access to the slopes on both sides of the valley and lake. The lake is any easy seven kilometer ride from the cabin. If you continue riding south down Tatlayoko road you will find some great Forest Service Recreation sites as well as a community picnic area with outhouses, beach access and even a ball diamond (only used by deer at this point).
The north and east shores of the lake are perfect for exploration on a fatbike or any mountain bike with 3 inch or bigger tires. We found deer and bear tracks along the shore. The meadows and wetlands to the north of the lake are a critical Grizzly bear corridor.
Range fences seem to run forever down the valley.
The entire west side of the lake is a Nature Conservancy conservation zone that is jointly managed for ranching and biodiversity values.