Prince George is a beautiful city located almost smack dab in the center of British Columbia. The city offers gorgeous sights; but, that’s not the only thing that makes the city a great place to visit, or even, call home… It’s the people. A perfect example of why the people in Prince George are so great is the number of accessible trails in or near the city. I’m here to share 3 top trails in the Prince George area that give freedom and accessibility to anyone who cares to venture along them.
What are accessible trails?
Accessible trails are not only usable by persons wanting to walk but also to those who may be constrained to a wheelchair or have a harder time walking. Wheelchairs typically cannot manoeuvre over tree roots or, as you may know, they can’t physically get up stairs. Accessible trails make the forest accessible to everyone that cares to see it!
GWL Mobility Trail (Great West Life Mobility Nature Trail)
The GWL Mobility Trail is located approximately 30 minutes outside of Prince George. To reach the trail drive 23km south on Highway 97 until you reach Buckhorn Road. Turn left onto Buckhorn road and follow until you reach Scott Road, which will be on your left side. Follow Scott Road until you reach gravel and the parking lot will be on your next right. You can drive right in until you reach the trailhead, there is wheelchair parking right beside the trailhead.
The trail meanders through the forest of Douglas Fir trees; it truly is a beautiful place to venture. There is only one trail, very clearly marked, which is wheelchair accessible; as well as, accessible to seniors and the general public. The trail is 450 meters long and offers 8 benches throughout in order for occasional breaks whenever the need be.
I don’t think they could have picked a better location to build this trail, right along Dougherty Creek and within a gorgeous cut of trees. This trail has really open doors for many who, typically, would never have been able to get out in the forest. While walking along the trails try to spot some hidden friends: gnomes, tree faces, angels, owls and more, that have been placed in hidden spots throughout the trail.
The Ancient Forest
The Ancient Forest is located approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes East of Prince George along Highway 16. There is a well-marked sign along the highway to lead you into the parking lot, which is located just off the highway.
The Ancient Forest is a wet belt forest filled with ancient Western Cedar trees. During my first visit to the Ancient Forest I couldn’t help but wonder, “How does a forest like this survive in such harsh climates of northern BC?” After a bit of research I found that the cedars actually thrive on the water that comes down from melted snow packs in the mountains.
The Ancient Forest is a truly magical place, a place that deserves to be seen by everyone. Thankfully, again, the community of Prince George saw that this beautiful place wasn’t accessible to all; yet, they believed it should be! Then began the project of building a universal boardwalk into part of the forest. It doesn’t follow the typical trail of the Ancient Forest but it takes you through the forest along the ancient cedars and ends at a creek runoff which comes from the waterfall nearby. I’d say the Ancient Forest is one of Northern BC’s secret gems, it’s the first place I take anyone who is visiting this beautiful region.
Forests for the World
Forests for the world is the closest accessible trail, out of the three I’ve listed, to the city of PG… because it’s right within the city! Forests for the World is located upon Cranbrook Hill. Get onto Highway 97 (Central Street) and turn onto 15th Avenue, heading south, make a right turn onto Foothills until you reach Cranbrook Hill Road. Cranbrook hill is a very steep hill; take caution while driving up, there may be other vehicles, pedestrians or even wildlife on the roadway. Once you reach Kueng Road take a left and drive to the end where you’ll reach the parking lot and trailhead.
There are many trails within Forests for the World; though, there is only one loop to the lake that is accessible to all. At the trailhead there is a map posting that will clearly guide you to said trailhead. You don’t have to feel left out, I honestly believe the loop to Shane Lake is the best trail in the forest! The Shane Lake loop trail is 1km in length, relatively flat and maintained so it’s accessible to those in wheelchairs.
Shane Lake offers an accessible lookout over the lake, as well as a dock down below. There are a variety of fish within the lake, it’s common to see many people fishing while walking around the lookout. The forest lining the trail is filled with Spruce, Pine and Douglas fir trees and beautiful wildflowers spring up along both sides of the trail. Forests for the World is a must see while in the city, regardless if you get around on two feet or two wheels!
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Want to know of some other great trails, hikes or parks within the Northern Region of British Columbia? Check out Tourism Prince George and their #TakeonPG project!
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