Tatlayoko Lake: A South Chilcotin Paradise

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.

I am definitely revisiting this area next summer for a 3 day bikepack traverse around the lake. I can’t wait to sleep on the beach! For more info about this area check out:

Tatlayoko Ranch Nature Conservancy

Camping and Recreation Sites

Audra’s Cabin Rental-Air B&B

War Falls to Carp Lake Provincial Park

This stunning waterfall is only a 2.5 hour drive northwest of Prince George. With roadside parking, a smooth 1 km single-track through a spruce and fir forest and accessible swimming, War Falls on the McLeod River may be the best waterfall in the region. If you add a 10 km ride to Carp Lake, you have a great summer day trip for the adventure mountain biker!

From Prince George, drive approximately 2 hours north on the Yellowhead Highway and follow the signs west into the First Nations community of McLeod Lake. Cross the bridge, drive past the large gas bar and continue west on Carp Lake road. For the first few km’s, the well-maintained gravel road runs through a logged area, then narrows and winds through the timber until the trail head at the 23 km mark. This narrow section is quite scenic.

Single-track trail heading down into the river valleyFirst set of falls

Second set of falls

The last set of falls can be observed from a small platform with access to a rocky beach

Looking downstream to the northeast

We met Luke and Nicole at the falls. They walked into the falls with their clothes and boots on and swam around for quite a while. We spent several hours swimming in the falls and exploring the riparian area, downstream. Carp Lake Provincial Park is an easy ride approximately 10 km west of the falls. War Lake is half-way between the falls and Carp Lake. It has a nice beach and camping area.

My typical speed on my Specialized Fatboy fatbike

Carp Lake is a wilderness lake, with only one access. There are campsites, up on a bench, along the eastern edge of the lake. Small trails descend 50 or so meters to docks along the lake. There are also campsites that you can boat to.

Chillin on the dockDwarf Blueberries alongside the road

Fore more information about War Falls and Carp Lake Provincial Park go to:

Carp Lake & War Falls

Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail Day Trip

No, the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail is not a slick, clayey brake clogging trail, but rather one that runs from the Fraser River, south of Prince George, to Bella Coola, west of the coast mountains. The grease is “Oolichan oil,” or the oil extracted by First Nations from a tiny ocean fish called the Oolichan (candle fish). This precious commodity was traded between coastal and interior First Nations via. an extensive trail network. Alexander Mackenzie utilized this trail (after being guided by local First Nations) on his famous expedition to the Pacific in the 1770s. Hence the trails secondary name: the Alexander Mackenzie Trail.

I accessed the trail at the 107 km on the Batnuni Forest Service Road. This single-track and ATV trail winds through some beautiful country and makes a fantastic day trip for the adventure rider.

This trail begins on a narrow bench of pine and spruce, paralleling the road,  then quickly descends into a lowland with a series of wetlands of varying size, just north of Cotsworth Lake. Almost immediately you have to cross a slow moving creek-so be prepared to get wet.

Creek crossing # 1.

After the first crossing, the trail runs along a small ridge that skirts most of the wetlands. The grass covered trail and white trembling aspens contrast sharply against the blue sky and grey waters.

Eventually, you have to cross another creek, this one was thigh deep and running a lot faster. Check out the video of my dangerous river crossing!

 Getting Wet

This unnamed lake has a great campsite.

 Unless you want to join Alice in Wonderland, I don’t recommend eating the Panther amanitas growing alongside the trail

Yarrow grows alongside the trail. At approximately 6 kms the trail crosses another channel between two wetlands, just south of the east end of Titetown Lake. While only two feet deep, this crossing is about 60 meters wide!

Scattered alongside of the trail are many trees with old blazes on them. Called Culturally Modified Trees (CMT) by Archaeologists, some of these trees were scarred by local First Nations (Nazko) to mark the location of a trail or to harvest cambium (inner bark), an important source of carbohydrates. Some are so old that they have completely healed over.

Time to dry out the shorts.

You can ride the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease trail aprroximately 20 km to Kluskoil Lake, and farther,  or take the ATV track the ascends onto a ridge that runs along the east side of Titetown Lake. This part of the trail affords some great views of the lake and the Nechako plateau as well as the tiny community that lives nearby.

Titetown Lake community.

An ever present reminder that bikes will outlive cars!

The Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail is a smooth relaxing ride through some beautiful wetland and lake country only a couple hours south of Prince George. It has numerous campsites, good access and is rarely used. For more info about this trail go to..

Grease Trail

Alexander Mackenzie Trail