Hiking the Murray River Overlook: Viewpoints of Northern British Columbia
Since we returned from our USA vacation in April, I've had a crazy hankering to travel. You would think I'd be over it, but I just want to see and experience everything! Fortunately we live on the doorstep of some really beautiful and mostly unspoiled wilderness, and a drive of as little as an hour can get us to a view like this:
The river you see is the Murray River, south of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. This time of year it's muddy with runoff and it's icy all year round. We've visited Kinuseo Falls, north of Tumbler, but this was our first time hiking the Murray River Overlook trail, an easy 5.5 km trek with nonstop views.
The trail starts out through the forest, and unlike the tangled mess of the aspen forest in our backyard, this is an evergreen forest, mossy and aromatic. Wild clematis grew everywhere in a viney swirl, looking far too delicate for such a rugged environment. It always seems like the more tough the region, the daintier the flowers. But maybe that's just me.
After ten minutes of easy walking, we came out onto the side of the river hill, with the Murray River far below.
The rest of the hike followed the curve of the hill, and the change of scenery meant a change of vegetation as well. Hillside wildflowers added exclamation points of color all along the trail as it wound through grass, sand and aspen groves.
People ask if we are afraid of bears. There are occasionally reports of bear attacks in our region (this spring a man was killed while camping near Mackenzie, BC, about 3 hours away), but I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to let fear keep us from adventuring. We make enough noise with a nine-year-old boy along that most animals know we are coming long before we appear, and just like us, they prefer to avoid confrontation.
Plus, I let the boy lead the way, and he had a 2" penknife. "If I see a bear, I'll just stab him with my knife." Oh, for the confidence of boyhood!
The trail ended right about the time we were ready for a snack, and we parked on a log bench overlooking the valley, right where the river makes a hairpin turn and meanders from north to west.
I think it's so cool that we live in a region that lets us explore so freely. In our two-plus hours hiking, we encountered only one other couple, and the trail was pristine.
Clearly well travelled but with absolutely no litter. Aside from the signposts and deadfalls cleared from the path, there was no other sign of human interference. That was one thing we didn't get when we were hiking in the USA; you were always around other people, and most parks require admission or parking fees. It's free to use our trails and parks for day use.
The travel bug shows no signs of going away. But we saw signs of another trail near this one, and we're planning a quad (ATV) trip for next weekend to an even more remote location.
Not only that, but within a few hours' drive we can reach beautiful Jasper National Park. I have a bucket list experience connected with that park, and I'm determined we'll do it this year.
I also have to research all the wildflowers we saw on our hike. There are at least a dozen varieties, and while I know most of them, this pink one was new:
And we spotted a single Calypso Orchid beside the trail, and very carefully admired it. So lovely!
I believe everyone can find beauty in their own backyard, and I'd love to know about the scenic spots you'd take me to were I to visit your neck of the woods!