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Chilcotin Ranges (South Chilcotins)
Parent Area: Pacific Ranges
Area: 9617 sq km.
Location: The Chilcotin Ranges are the inland section of the Coast Range between the Bridge River and the Chilcotin Plateau. The so-called "South Chilcotin" gets its name from the Chilcotin Ranges, but most of this area is not actually in the Chilcotin, which by definition is the basin of the Chilcotin River, but rather got its name from being composed of some of (but not all of) the southern Chilcotin Ranges; most of the "South Chilcotin", despite its mistaken name, is actually part of the historic region known as the Bridge River Country and is not part of the Chilcotin. The Chilcotin Ranges as such include the Dickson, Shulaps, and Camelsfoot Ranges as well as the mountains of the Taseko River and Big Creek basins as well as the "South Chilcotin"; all three are now part of the provincial parks system, respectively Ts'ylos Provincial Park, Big Creek Provincial Park and Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park. There are various "protected areas" within the region other than the parks, the largest of which is the Churn Creek Protected Area; others are in the Shulaps and Camelsfoot Range. The western boundary of the Chilcotin Ranges as defined lies to the west of Taseko Lake but this range description for now ends at Taseko Lake. The northern perimeter of the range may be shown on maps as Dash Creek, or Relay Creek, but for purposes of this range description the line of Hungry Valley and West Churn Creeks has been used for simplicity; technically Dash Hill and Peak 17-55 Hungry Valley Creek may be considered to be on the Chilcotin Plateau rather than being part of the Chilcotin Ranges; the same is true of Anvil Mountain and Mount Tom, which lie to the north of Taseko Mountain and the Dil-Dil Plateau.
Includes: Ts'ylos Provincial Park, Big Creek Provincial Park, Churn Creek Protected Area, Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park, Gun Lake, Tyaughton Lake, Marshall Lake, Spruce Lake.
Terrain: The new Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park and Spruce Lake is a paradise for hikers: good trails, fantastic scenery, alpine meadows, wildlife to see, lots of water (creeks not rain usually) and even a few lakes to swim and fish in. Most of the trails are above timberline and there are many routes along ridges, so you continually get great views. Big Creek Provincial Park lies to the north of Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park and is of slightly different terrain, focussed on the wide plateau-valley of Big Creek and flanked by the high peaks of the Taseko group on the west and the Churn Creek Protected Area on the east, which hugs the base of the northern Camelsfoot Range. Off the northwestern boundary of the Southern Chilcotin Mtns Provincial Park, and immediately to the west of Big Creek Provincial Park, is Ts'ylos Provincial Park which centres on Chilko and Taseko Lakes and their headwaters on the northern flank of the Lillooet Icecap. All of these parks have their headquarters in Williams Lake.
History: The Southern Chilcotin mountains have been known for recreational opportunities going back to the 1930's, being similar to the rain shadow on the east side of the Canadian Rockies in having a favourable climate for outdoor activities in comparison to the wet jungles of the Coast; in terrain (if not geology) it resembles some of the American Rockies with broad basins and dryland ranges reminiscent of parts of Colorado and Wyoming. For many years the area was safe from logging due to the fact that the logs were smaller than the old growth on the coast and also the distance from major mills elsewhere in the Interior as in those times Lillooet and none of the canyon towns north of Yale had major milling facilities. Another limiting factor mitigating against logging here was a large overhang in the mid-Bridge River Canyon which prevented logging trucks from accessing this country until it was partly blasted away in the mid-1970s; before the Canyon road was built the only other access into the upper Bridge River Country was via Mission Mountain and it was just as much of an obstacle, as well as led only to a rail line which carried only gold ore out and people and equipment in, not to a mill designed solely for the purpose of "harvesting" the timber on a massive scale as became the case once Highway 40 became passable for logging trucks.
The NDP provincial government in 1996 began a lengthy set of public involvement hearings which resulted in 72,000 hectares being set aside for Southern Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park as well as 13 additional protected areas. This declaration was made in the spring of 2001, right at the end of the NDP term of office. The incoming government set aside the park declaration, and instead appointed the Honorable Stan Hagen, Minister of Sustainable Resource Management, to re-decide what lands will be subject to industrial uses and what will be protected. We can only hope that the new Liberal government will understand the uniqueness of the area and protect a large part of it. Unfortunately, the lifting of the logging moratoriums resulted in a hurried clearcutting in the Bonanza Valley during the Christmas season in 2001 and the mining industry has made the area a centrepiece of its complaints against restrictive mining-extraction policies, even though no exploitable claims have been found within its boundaries despite well over a century of extensive exploration.
Paper Maps of Park
Southern Chilcotin Mountains Trail Map - 3rd Edition Scale 1:62500 Trail Ventures BC
Southern Chilcotin Mountains Trail Map - 3rd Edition Trail Ventures BC 1:62500 50m