Before beginning your Alaska Highway road trip, get some pre-drive hiking and biking exercise!
It’s a one hour, ten-minute drive west on Highway 97 from Dawson Creek to Chetwynd, British Columbia. You’ll need to return to Dawson Creek to begin your Alaska Highway road trip, but Chetwynd, British Columbia is worth a visit for its outstanding network of hiking and biking trails. You can get some exercise there before you start your Alaska Highway drive.
Dubbed the Chetwynd Greenspace Trail System, the network is an interconnected series of easy-access, picturesque hiking and mountain biking trails in the Chetwynd, BC area.
The network is made up of the Cottonwood (3 km), Crown (3 km), Coyote (1 km), Centurion (4 km), Deer Point (200 m), Rodeo (300 m), 3 Culverts (2 km), Connector (12 km), Baldy (2 km with 3 km ridge), Community Forest (700 m), Interpretive and Windrem (2 km) Trails. Trail maps are available at the Visitor Information Centre or District Office.
Cottonwood was the first trail to be developed. When Chetwynd Secondary School (CSS) proposed a nearby fitness trail in 1980, the Chamber of Commerce provided money to develop it.
Then, in 1985, the Chamber proposed the construction of an entire network and an extensive trail system was developed.
Development included the Old Baldy Trail with an inspiring view of the valley and many others.
Along with the local people, the Chetwynd area is populated by bears, deer, coyotes and moose. All of these animals are also frequent trail users, so bring your cameras and your common sense.
Here are some tips from the Chetwynd Greenspace Trail System Guide sponsored by the provincial government’s Super Natural, BC team (also see www.gochetwynd.com):
“Moose and whitetail deer eat tree bark so watch for their marks. Black bears can climb trees. You will be able to see their claw marks along the Community Forest Connector Trail. In several locations, just off the trail, old den sites for coyotes and bears can be seen. There is also a bear den marked along the 3 Culverts Trail. Wildlife is abundant along the lower Centurion Trail and bird watchers may encounter over 30 species along with other wildlife such as moose, cougars, and beaver.”
The guide also provides advice to those seeking hiking and biking adventure beyond the borders of the town and its immediate vicinity:
“There are many splendid trails in the outlying area that are not marked, so you may want to contact a local guide or outfitter if you are looking for more of a backcountry experience. For those who have a family, there are hiking opportunities for the younger set to get involved in, as well as trails for the more serious minded hikers. The trails are a year-round recreational feature. In the winter, recreational enthusiasts use the trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is no fee for using the ski trails but then they may not be groomed either. During the summer months, hikers may walk or cycle the signed trails…”
The Chetwynd Visitor Centre is located at 5400 North Access Road, Chetwynd, BC (V0C1J0) and can be reached by phone at (250) 788-1943. It is open seven days a week from 9 am to 7 pm. Ask them about how to access the various trails for hiking and mountain biking.
Staff at the Centre can also provide tips on wildlife safety and they’ll likely warn you about the stumps left in the middle of many of the trails when trees were cleared. The stumps are still there to prevent motorized vehicle access.