outdoor adventureStretch your mind, as you drink in the spectacular surroundings and get swallowed up in a feeling of awe.
Something about northern BC naturally speaks of adventure.
There are less people here, more animals, bigger, emptier landscapes, and an inclination among those who live here to explore the outdoors as much as possible. It’s reminiscent of the spirit of pioneers and homesteaders — physical folks who work and play hard, love the world they live in and know it intimately. Prince Rupert is full of these people, lifelong residents or recent transplants who get animated when they talk about some great trail they hiked, a crazy wildlife encounter, or the latest kayak trip out to one of the islands. And the best part—for locals and visitors alike—is adventure is always close by here.
Take in the view from mount hays
The city is nestled into the base of the mountain, like a cat curled up around the warmth of a fire. From here, you can see the many islands that punctuate the Pacific Ocean. Across the harbour, there’s the tiny community of Dodge Cove on Digby Island. In Venn Passage, the village of Metlakatla hugs the vivid green coastline. Look further north and you can see the southern reaches of the Alaskan Panhandle. On a clear day, to the west, you can make out the Haida Gwaii archipelago on the other side of Hecate Strait. And beyond that, nothing but open ocean for nearly 7,000 kilometres to the coast of Japan. It’s a staggering view, but that’s not the only good thing about being up here. As the ancient Taoist saying goes, the journey itself is the reward. Climbing to the top of Mt. Hays is a hefty hike, whether you walk up the access road or scale the steep Kiwanis Trail. But walking is worth the effort.
Hiking in Prince Rupert is a great way to get outside and keep fit, and it’s by no means the only active thing to do around here. Look around. Prince Rupert is surrounded by an endless ocean playground, old-growth forests, and spectacular mountains. The locals love to play, both indoors and out, and there is no shortage of activities here that can get your heart pumping and your adrenaline flowing.
hardy kayakers “surf” in the reversing tidal rapids at Butze Rapids
Sure, they wear insulated dry suits but when they practice rolls, heads fully submerged in the frigid sea. The grins on their faces say it must be worth it. Paddling around Prince Rupert is probably the best way to get to know this coastal city. Rupert is on an island—Kaien Island—and getting out on the water means experiencing the marine landscape that has helped this city grow from its humble beginnings back in 1910. Plus, you’ll have wildlife experiences you’ll never forget. The shallows along the rocky coastline are peppered with interesting aquatic life—starfish, mussels, crabs, a massive array of fish—and the curious heads of seals frequently pop up, checking out the colourful boats passing by. Whales are not uncommon—orcas and humpbacks being the most regular visitors to the north coast. Travelling by kayak through nearby Venn Passage (also known as Metlakatla Pass) is mind-bogglingly beautiful.
There are endless opportunities for trips by kayak and canoe from Rupert, but be aware that the north coast is home to some of the biggest tides in the world so proper preparation is essential for any ocean excursion. To get you started, look into paddling around Kloiya Bay, Tuck Inlet, Port Edward, Digby Island, and Metlakatla.
there are endless trails to explore for all levels
Butze Rapids is the best-known, and well-loved trail. If you get the timing right, you’ll see the reversing rapids and maybe some paddlers playing in the waves. For a more leisurely stroll, McClymont Trail is another favourite. There are plenty of other trails around, too, ranging from short paths winding through the city, to strenuous unmaintained trails up the surrounding mountains.
The newly developed Rushbrook Trail is easily accessible from Cow Bay. Approximately 1.5 km one way, you’ll start at the far end of the Rushbrook Floats parking lot, finding the trailhead just behind the Bob’s on the Rocks building. This is a wide gravel trail suitable for most abilities that skirts steep cliffs at the very edge of the water. Newly renovated in 2018, it features three suspension bridges and stunning views up the harbour as far as Tuck Inlet. You’ll come out in beautiful Seal Cove to watch the float planes taking off, before turning around & walking back the way you came.
For a more rugged hike, try Tall Trees Trail, approximately 4.5 km one way. The start of this recently updated trail is just a couple hundred meters past the Butze Rapids parking lot. This hike will take you 450 meters up the side of Mount Oldfield and on clear days provides stunning views of Prince Rupert harbour and the surrounding mountains. The first section is relatively flat but quickly becomes steep, making this a moderately difficult hike.
With some advance planning, a wild adventure is not far out of reach
As with paddling, hiking here does require safety precautions—this is a rugged landscape and the Rupert weather is known for rapid changes. Make sure you have a good map, appropriate clothing, and safety equipment before you head out.
Sometimes a travel itinerary doesn’t permit an overnight visit, or even a full day trip. Luckily, getting a good look at the Rupert landscape can be a short adventure, from an interesting perspective—above. Several local companies offer flightseeing tours that take in a view of the region’s small communities, epic coastline, and—with luck—some wildlife. You can also book a canoe or kayaking tour for a local’s perspective and expertise on our wild landscape.