Posts filed in Outdoors:

Digital Ambassador Workshop in the Prince George Visitor Information Centre - "HelloPG" Community Ambassador Program.

On June 6th 2016 I hosted the first Digital Ambassador Workshop in the Prince George Visitor Information Centre as part of our new "HelloPG" Community Ambassador Program. The turn-out was much more than I expected and very encouraging: the enthusiasm of our digital content creators is remarkable.

What is the Community Ambassador program?

With support from Destination British Columbia's Visitor Services Innovation Fund, Tourism PG has been able to take a new initiative for engaging more visitors outside of the Visitor Information Centre (VIC). The HelloPG Community Ambassador Program operates on three fronts: 1) Providing keen locals, especially customer service employees and event volunteers, with bi-weekly information packages about events, exhibits, shows and tours; 2) Attending events and visitor hot-spots with a Pop-Up VIC (tent, table, guidebooks, maps, etc.); 3) Engaging the community's digital ambassadors to help fill in online-content gaps, and to foster regular communications so that our team doesn't miss important new digital content.

So, what is a digital ambassador? Our community is rich with content creators already doing ambassador tasks: blogging, posting journals and guides, publishing videos and photos, making maps, writing reviews, answering questions on forums, travel sites, and social media.  The HelloPG program provides digital ambassadors with ideas for taking their activities further, though these self-starters rarely need much guidance; even more important is to formally recognize our digital community and give them a convenient venue to collaborate and share ideas with the Tourism PG team.

The Look and Feel of BC Tourism Media

I knew that most of the attendees were already seasoned content creators and didn't need tips on SEO or photography basics, so I wanted to talk about the style of tourism media in BC.

The Wild Within was well received with it's obvious departure from established tourism video tropes: gone are perfect blue skies, studio lighting, contrived composition, smiling models, sappy sentiment and jangly stock music. Instead, the style of the video rests on mist, darkness, dappled light, slow-motion close-ups, and golden hour shooting.  

Moving on from The Wild Within, I thought it was important to show a regional video too. BC is organized into six tourism regions: Northern BC, Cariboo Chilcotin, Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Coast & Mountains, and Vancouver Islands. Destination BC has recently released a video for each region, but in the interest of time I only showed our Northern BC video.

 

If you were to watch all the regional clips, the Northern BC story would immediately be set apart by the narrator's solitary journey, where as the narrators in the other regions are travelling as couples or groups.

Travellers in Northern British Columbia aren't necessarily characterized by travelling alone, but are remarkably independent and free spirited. The opening line of the narration, "Travelling, for me, is coming in without a plan," resonates with me as a traveller, and I think hits home for most of the RV and camping road-trippers that flock to Northern BC every summer.

To complete the series of video examples, I showed Tourism PG's new outdoor adventure clip.

The video took approximately one year to shoot and edit. With a focus on adventure recreation and action sports, our clip doesn't fully match the ponderous pacing of Destination BC's videos; however, we did adhere to the visual style wherever possible.

The Wild Within prompts travellers to reassess questions about nature: "What is big? What is power?" Our clip further asks visitors to question their experience of nature: "What is real?" Those who travel to Northern BC seek genuine, authentic, experiences with spontaneous local connections and discoveries that stem from their own agency as self-sufficient road-trippers.

Tourism Media and Visitor Services

Sublime nature and freedom to roam is the big appeal of Northern BC, but with media that hinges on seemingly endless wilderness, travellers get the impression that Northern BC is far less developed than it is. They are often surprised by the size of Prince George and the services offered here. We get some surprising questions: Are the roads paved? Are there sidewalks? Is the city open in the winter? Therefore, it is important for us to represent our City with fresh, high quality visuals and look for opportunities to add more content; for example, locations on Google Maps that unexpectedly don't have an image uploaded. It's also important to have a vibrant and welcoming social media presence: not just from corporate accounts, but from locals as well.

Digital Ambassador Activities

With knowledge of our visual/editorial style (being "on-brand") and the type of travellers in our region, Digital Ambassadors can undertake some specifics to promote their favourite areas and activities, and engage with travellers on social media. Most attendees at my presentation are doing a combination of these activities already:

  • Share inspiring photos with media outlets that reach general travellers; commonly:
    • Destination BC, @hellobc, #explorebc
    • Global BC, @GlobalBC, #globalbc
    • Northern BC Tourism (@Northern British Columbia on Facebook), @travelnorthernbc #travelnorthernbc
    • CKPG News (for the close region), #CKPGsnapshot
  • Share/create content for industry or interest specific sites: e.g., mountain biking articles and videos for Pinkbike.
  • Keep us at Tourism PG in the loop! We're always happy to hear about your activities as a content creator. Specifically, tag your photos with #takeonPG on Twitter. We're able to share those posts directly to our new Tourismpg.com website: not just on the #takeonPG page, but also on the pages for specific locations or activities.
  • Get involved with relevant conversations, encourage travellers to post more, and answer questions where you can on social media channels like
    • TripAdvisor
    • YouTube
    • Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
    • Questions & Answers of P.G. (Facebook)
    • Hell Yeah Prince George (Facebook)
  • Make contributions to Google Maps/Apple Maps (photos, reviews, new locations)
  • Finally, join my group of Digital Ambassadors: we will have bi-weekly informal meetings at a local hangout to collaborate on new ideas, present recent contributions, and track the success of our efforts. This is a volunteer commitment of up to 2 hours per week; you are supplied with an ambassador information pack, cutting edge new TPG merch, and training in any of the above tasks.

The HelloPG program, and becoming a Digital Ambassador, is a great way to collaborate with your peers, engage with visitors, and most likely learn a few new things about your area. If you're interested, please email me, stanyer@tourismpg.com, and simply let me know you would like to join HelloPG as a Digital Ambassador.

#takeonpg

We recently had the opportunity to host three social media influencers from Vancouver, Edmonton, and Seattle in our fair town for a brief 48 hours. We crafted an itinerary with the goal of showcasing some of our city's finest attractions while promoting four major summer events.

Read on to learn about how our guests experienced:

  • PWB and Winery tours
  • zombification
  • canoeing the Nechako River
  • snakes at The Exploration Place
  • Two Rivers' MakerLab
  • chocolate making
  • and much more!

Wednesday

Our guests arrived at 12:05pm on a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight from Victoria and we hoped they would be ready for a jam-packed two days with us!

 

After checking into the Prestige Treasure Cove Hotel we brought them for a late lunch to Nancy O's -a local favourite restaurant in downtown Prince George. There we debated what dish to order and what beer would best accompany it (did you know that Nancy O's has over 60 beers from around the world?).

Continuing on with our beer theme we headed over to Pacific Western Brewing (PWB) on the shores of the Nechako River where Matt lead us on a tour of the facilities and we learned some fun facts about our local brewery, such as:

  •  PWB is Canada's longest running, British Columbian-owned brewery;
  •   They were the first Canadian brewer to export to mainland China (1991) and Russia (1996);
  •  In 2003 they were the first ISO 9001 (highest level of certification) certified brewery in North America; and 
  •  PWB was the first brewery to use cans instead of bottles in BC (1965).

Next we travelled downstream to visit BC's northern-most winery: Northern Lights Estate Winery. There we had another delightful tour lead by Doug, an operating partner and developer for the winery. We toured through the cellar and the orchards. We also learned how the winery and orchards are strategically placed on the banks of the Nechako River, at the base of the iconic cutbanks, to allow for a slightly lengthened growing season. Doug told us how the orchard's location extends the growing season, but you'll have to go for a tour and find out yourself!

 The best part about these two tours was talking with Matt and Doug and learning from them. As a lifelong resident of Prince George I have known some of the facts of the brewery and winery's history, but I never knew why certain choices were made.

After the winery we took our guests to Cimo Mediterranean Grill and everyone enjoyed a relaxing evening with delicious food, an array of wine and excellent service.

Can you believe we did all this in less than ten hours?

Thursday

Thursday dawned with a beautiful spring sun shining in clear blue skies. We were thankful that the weather was so perfectly suited for some time on the water.  Our bloggers' first activity was a paddle down the Nechako River with members from the Two Rivers Canoe Club. This excursion was so appealing that even our CEO, Erica, brought her canoe and father-in-law along for the ride!

 

While most of our group was travelling down the Nechako waterway in good company, our food blogger, Traca, was visiting Garrett at Nancy O's Restaurant. Not only was it a unique experience to be in a closed pub at 10am with the cooks making gentle clunks and clinks in the kitchen, but I also got to be a fly on the wall while Traca and Garrett conversed. 

Listening to Garrett detail their vision for Nancy O's and their inspiration for creating such a unique and welcoming atmosphere increased my admiration for them even more. I learned that Irish pubs were a significant influence in the design of the restaurant. I learned that family ties and relationships are vital to their business. I learned that they value atmosphere and hospitality as highly as they value their food (and we all know how much their love their food).
Most of all, Garrett reaffirmed what I had sensed in the past: that Nancy O's want to be an integral part of Downtown Prince George. They desire to increase our vibrancy as a city and they want to be responsible in the way they source their food. They want to be a welcoming place where talent (musical and culinary) can be appreciated. They want to help other restaurants and businesses flourish. 
I learned I want to become a regular of theirs and be a part of their endeavours and experience it all first hand. 

Thursday Afternoon

 Next, we visited The Exploration Place and Christian toured us around and taught us about Prince George's dinosaurs, Prince George's history, the 2015 Canada Winter Games (hosted by Prince George), the Iron Jock, and Cream (their snake ambassador).

 Even though I am a local and have lived in Prince George my entire life, I can honestly say that I learn something new (and interesting) each and every time I visit the Exploration Place! I love that the staff have a wealth of fascinating information to share and that they are so passionate about their work.

Next we went to Ms Lorea's School of Esthetics and Nail Technology. There we had the exceptionally talented Melissa transform two of our guests into terrifying zombies! In just two hours she performed her magic and it was incredible to watch!

We cannot express our thanks enough to Melissa, Dee, and everyone at Ms Lorea's; without them this certainly would not have happened. Thank-you!

Our busy day continued with chocolate making at Ohh... Chocolat Cafe where we indulged in some fine Belgian chocolate and made some unique creations. Caroline shared some stories with us about her business, and what inspired her to become a Master Chocolatier. It was interesting to hear Caroline's perspective of the 2015 Winter Games because I never knew about all the legwork and research they had done in advance. They worked hard and their preparation and insight paid off. We're so happy that they were able to showcase their product to the nation last February!



Thursday Night

Later that night we visited Two Rivers Gallery and their 2RG MakerLab that is held every Thursday night. I've only been to MakerLab a handful of times and every single visit I'm astonished at how welcoming and friendly everyone is and the incredible creativity that overflows! In case you don't know, MakerLab takes place upstairs in Two Rivers Gallery on Thursday nights. Makers are welcome to use the available equipment, including the 3D printer, laser cutter, sewing machines, woodworking equipment and much more. In addition, the tables are ginormous and easy to work at and stools are abundant. 

We ended this busy and educational day by unwinding at Twisted Cork to the soft crooning of Britt AM at Twisted Cork. I think we were all so tired that not many pictures were taken. I did manage to snap this one of the spread of tapas that we all shared before everyone dug in!

Friday

Friday morning we let our guests sleep in and took them on a meandering tour of Prince George before dropping them off at the airport. We visited the University of Northern British Columbia and Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park. 

 Hosting our three out of town social media influencers was an excellent and memorable experience for all involved. Our guests gathered quality content to share through their networks, they increased traffic to our social media (especially Twitter) and they expressed pleasant surprise at how much Prince George has to offer.

I also enjoyed touring our guests around Prince George in the 48 hours that turned out to be a blur. I gained a new appreciation for all the passionate people who have chosen to grow roots in this place and share their creativity and talents with our residents and visitors. I was able to participate in or witness conversations that ran deeper than normal. I heard our visitors ask questions I had never considered; this resulted in me gaining a refreshed perspective on our town and the array of high quality amenities that we are able to offer. Places that I had taken for granted because I grew up visiting them drew compliments and admiration from the three bloggers. People I had met in the past demonstrated incredible hospitality and kindness to our guests. This, and many other factors, made me proud to show off the place I call home and eager to share my experience with other residents. 

 

Top 5 walking trails - Tourism Prince George

We are so lucky to have access to so much green space in Prince George. Locals and tourists alike can appreciate our selection of beautiful parks within city limits, whether for picnics, walks or a much-needed break from travel.

Cottonwood Island Park

Situated along the Nechako River, Cottonwood Island Park is a system of trails good not only for walking, but biking and running, and with many paved sections, is accessible to everyone and anyone. There are many different entry points, including the main one next door to the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum along River Road, accessed from 1st Avenue/Highway 16. You’ll find picnic tables and a covered picnic area here as well. If you’re up for a longer walk, one trail even crosses underneath the train bridge and Highway 16 East, and connects to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park

In the heart of downtown, Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park flanks the Fraser River, giving stunning views of where our two rivers connect and the cutbanks across the Fraser. There are many trails throughout the park, with picnic tables and benches, as well as a playground and a water park for the kids. There are tons of leafy trees in the park, offering midday shade or beautiful lighting when the sun starts to go down.

LC Gunn Park

Located right across the Fraser River from Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, and accessed off of Highway 16, is LC Gunn Park, a 3.5 km trail along a steep bank above the river. This quiet walk gives you amazing views of the city and is also good for biking. And if you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry – plenty of fencing will protect you at the viewpoints while you take it all in!

 Connaught Hill Park

Make sure you visit Connaught Hill Park, off of Queensway Blvd., in the summer so you don’t miss this amazing panoramic view of the city. Walking around the top of this park will give you views of everything from UNBC to the Fraser River and the Nechako River and is a great spot to break for a picnic as well. 

Cranbrook Hill Greenway

One of my favorite places to stroll with my dog (leashed only) is the Cranbrook Hill Greenway behind UNBC. There are tons of different trails (over 25 km of them!) and access points to this area (like Forests for the World, another fave!) so there’s always somewhere new to go on any given day. The trails are beautiful and quiet, and there are lookouts and a couple small lakes to visit. Wildlife, including moose and bears, are known to frequent the area, so keep an eye out!

Originally written for the HelloBC blog. 


Web: jessicaquinn.ca
Email: jessica@jessicaquinn.ca 
Twitter: @jessicaleequinn
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What trails to ride your bike in Prince George, BC.
Where to ride is a tough decision these days in Prince George.

While trying to decide what trails to ride one day, my riding partner and I mutually commented that there were almost too many choices.  Although not a bad thing, I will admit I have a difficult time riding all our local trails in a given season.  Prince George has multiple areas to ride, with levels to suit all abilities and interests.   Otway has added close to one new trail every year for the past 5 years and I am almost certain the Pidherny Recreation Area has exceeded that. 

Along with the growth of our trails, is the growth of the riders.  People ask me all the time why I think there has been such a huge growth.  My answer is simple and always the same: because it’s fun!  As a mountain bike instructor, I coached about 40 brand new riders this past season.  When I say “brand new”, I mean people who have never ridden on dirt before.  Some of these people literally bring their fresh new bike to the lesson and have not even ridden it yet.  And the best part is seeing their smiles when we are finished! 

For a beginner starting out, the best place to visit would be Otway.  These trails are located in the midst the Otway Nordic Center ski trails on Otway Road and are all single-track trails.  There are 2 full green trails, many blue rated options with a few black mixed in for a lot of variety.   For a beginner, I recommended doing a loop of Home Run and Tin Can Alley.  If you have a little more experience but questionable fitness, take Home Run-Inside Passage-Midway-Karma; and yes, there are maps posted at all the major junctions making navigation a breeze.  If you are more experienced and like a good workout, get yourself up to the Doghouse via Curves-Espresso or Karma-Twister-ACDC, all great climbs.  You can do a couple loops up top including Java, Cyclone and Cross Cut to easily fill an hour and a half.  If you like “old school” technical riding, check out Tree Hugger and Adams!  Otway has something for everyone, even some fun little air time opportunities on Cyclone and Tornado Alley.

Pidherny is generally considered a little more advanced than Otway, only because it has some steeper/ technical sections that are not as easily avoidable.  If you are a beginner rider, I would suggest parking at the top parking lot on Foothills Blvd., which is directly across from Vellencher Road.  A beginner option would be to take the green Foothill Access trail all the way to the Ten Dollar/Flow Job trailheads.  Both Ten Dollar and Flow Job are blue rated, but do-able for a beginner; just ride slower your first time so you don’t accidently get air on some bumps or roots.  Both these trails take you down to the mid-way point of Pidherny, where you can do repeated loops going back up Ten Dollar.  Note that Ten Dollar is the only two-way trail to get you back to the access trail, so caution when going both directions.  I would not recommend going much further down if you are a beginner, because you still need to get back to your vehicle at the top.  Some people will park a vehicle at the bottom and shuttle up to avoid the climb back out. 

If your skill level suits some steeper descents, start with the blue access trail from the top parking lot all the way to the start of Papa Woods.  You can then take any of the trails from here including Papa Woods, Carcass and Dixie noting that all have Technical Trail Features (TTF’s), most with ride arounds.  If it’s your first time down one of these, ride with caution and check out the features first before attempting them.   You can also descend the more advanced Valve Job or New England Clam Chowder (NECC), which both come off the blue access trail before you reach the Papa Woods trail-head.  These will pop you out on a quad trail; hang a right, then a left, bringing you down to the start of Ditch Pig, which will take you a little further down.  If you need to get back to the top parking lot, you can head back up to the road and then up Ten Dollar and along either access trail.  Or you can plan to shuttle and avoid the climb.  

Pidherny also has some extremely challenging technical cross country loops that are better accessed from the lower parking lot, and are located on both sides of Pidherny Road.  These include Climb It, Pulaski, Front Porch, McLeod on the east side of the road as well as Gus’ Grind, GXC, Peanut Butter, Big Ass Hill, Sidewinder and Ridge XC on the west side.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you that most of these have advanced technical sections and some challenging climbs!  Note that the east side trails are currently not on the Pidherny Recreation Site trail map, as they are out the previous boundary; this includes the bottom of Valve Job and NECC.  The future map will have these east side trails as the boundary has been extended.  I highly recommend you have a map on hand as there are currently no trail maps posted within the trail network, only in the parking lots.  Even with a map; however, you may still get a little lost.  If getting lost if not your thing, I recommend you try to ride with someone local who knows the trails. 

Be sure to bring water with you and maybe even a small snack.  Also, a spare tube or patch kit, tire levers and a pump may prevent a “less fun” walk out.  You can access links to trail maps and other local cycling information at www.pgcyclingclub.ca.  Stay safe and have fun!!

 

Lynda Foreman

PMBI Level 1 Instructor

Fem Bike BC

 

Top 3 Dog Friendly Locations in Prince George

Anyone with a pup knows that our four-legged friends quickly become an important member of the family and it’s great to bring them along on family vacations. As nice as it is for them to not be separated from the family, travel can be tough on them. With this in mind, I like to know where to stop to let them have a good run and take in some fresh air (among other dog-attracting smells), rather than random stops on the side of the highway. Prince George has some great open spaces where dogs are free to roam.

 Ginter’s Field

Ginter’s Field, named for the man whose grand house once sat at the top (but is now just leftover rock walls and stairs), is a beautiful space of field and trees right in town. Park in the gravel lot at the top of Massey Drive, just west of Ospika Blvd. and let the dogs run free in the large field or go for a bit of a hike. Trails run up to the old house ruins, which offers a nice view, and you can even continue climbing up the hill all the way to UNBC for a bit more exercise. The pups will like it either way!

Moore’s Meadow

Tucked away off of Foothills Blvd., between Ospika Blvd. and First Avenue is a huge expanse of woods and meadow that is a real treat for people and dogs alike. Trails connect to the meadow from many directions (Foothills and the residential areas surrounding it), but once inside the wooded area, you can easily forget you’re in city limits. The trails are all leashed areas, but as soon as you hit the open area of the meadow, dogs that are under control can run free. This is a surprisingly big area, great for walking or jogging with your pup. Keep in mind that although you’re in the city, it’s still very wooded, so do be mindful of wildlife encounters and how that may affect your canine friend. On my most recent visit to the meadow, I saw a fox bouncing through the grass; I do suggest carrying bear spray, just in case!

Duchess Park

If your pup loves freedom, but requires a bit more containment, the fenced-in dog area at Duchess Park is a great fit. With two fenced areas (one for small dogs and one for large), dogs can meet some friends and burn off their pent up energy. Located on Ross Crescent, in the Prince George bowl, the park also features a large accessible playground and bike park, perfect for entertaining the kids while the dogs have their own fun. Pack a lunch or grab something from the nearby Parkwood Mall to make for an enjoyable afternoon with the whole family.

 
Web: jessicaquinn.ca
Email: jessica@jessicaquinn.ca 
Twitter: @jessicaleequinn
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Camping near Prince George is something everyone should experience. Whether you’re looking for a full hook up site, or a remote bush camping experience, the options are endless. Although there are far too many great locations to cover in a short article, I will highlight three of my favourites. These three locations share one main trait – awe inspiring beauty.

Purden Lake

     Purden Lake is one of the more popular destinations around Prince George for camping. It has everything from a georgeous lake for fishing and swimming, to a hiking trail system where you’re bound to see spectacular views or even some of the resident wildlife.

     Located 64km east of Prince George, this location is ideal for a night’s stay if you’re just passing through, or are looking for somewhere to stay for an extended visit. The campground features 78 sites, of which 12 are tent only sites. Reservations are available online to secure your favorite spot in advance, but for the last minute traveler, there are also first come, first serve spots available.

Whiskers Point Provincial Park

     Even though this location is a little bit further from Prince George, Whiskers Point Provincial Park should not be overlooked. Located approximately 100km north from the outskirts of the city, this is an ideal location for people heading north on towards the Alaska Highway. 

     This park is equipped with everything from horseshoe pits to volleyball nets and is sure to have something suitable for the whole family. One of the best parts though, is the sheltered sandy beach – the perfect place for a mid-day swim, or just relaxing in the sun.

     There are 59 sites available at this campground with running water in the facilities nearby. Similar to Purden Lake, there are both reservation as well as first come first serve sites available.

Rec Sites near Francis Lake

     For the campers looking to enjoy a more rustic, remote setting, there are rec sites scattered throughout the area. One of the most beautiful areas to enjoy is the rec sites near Francis Lake, which is located roughly 40 kilometers south east of Prince George.

     Not only is there a great rec site at Francis Lake, but there are also 8 other rec sites in the area to choose from – most of which, are also waterfront on the shores of other nearby lakes and rivers.

      These rec sites are located in remote areas and are strictly on a first come first serve basis, so be sure to have a back-up plan in place in the event that they are full upon your arrival. These sites have no services, but there is endless opportunity for the ATV enthusiast or outdoors person to be able to go right from the front door of your tent or trailer.

      Although these three locations don’t even begin to touch on the amount of camping opportunity in the area, no matter what the type of amenities you’re searching for, you will be able to find just the place near Prince George. Trailers, tents, full hook up, or remote – you name it, you’ll find it.

info@nicktrehearne.com
www.nicktrehearne.com

Copyright N. Trehearne 2015

Top 4 Moderate Hikes in Prince George, BC.

Prince George is surrounded by an abundance of luscious  forests that are home to many trails,.  These trails are maintained by the province, among other parties, and are accessible to the general public to enjoy. These day-hikes vary from Easy to Difficult, and many have the opportunity to become overnight trips. Four well-known Moderate hikes near Prince George are: Teapot Mountain, Fort George Canyon, Raven Lake and Grizzly Den.

Teapot Mountain (1.4km)

  • Teapot Mountain’s trailhead is located 45 minutes (50km) north of Prince George on Highway 97. Turn left on Talus Rd and drive for 1km to reach Caine Creek Forestry Rd. Once on Caine Creek drive 3.3km until you reach the trailhead on the right, in a marked pullout.
  • The hike starts along a short inclined gravel road until you reach the noticeable trail. Yet, it’s not a common hiking path because it has boulders strewn about. These boulders tell of Teapot’s past; Teapot Mountain is a basalt volcanic plug, which formed long before the last ice age. Here the true hike begins –the path ascends steeply, manoeuvring over or around large rocks to continue higher.  I believe this hike is typically taken lightly because it’s only 1.4km and only takes about 30 minutes to get to the top, but this hike is physically challenging!  For that reason it’s rated moderate.
  • The hike may definitely be done with children but be aware of them at all times because of there are some sudden drop offs. At the top a 360º loop offers amazing viewpoints overlooking Summit Lake southwards, lakes and creeks northwards and wetlands east & west. There are very few rails and the edge drops away forming significant cliffs.

 

Fort George Canyon (4.8km)

  • The trailhead for Fort George Canyon is found west of Prince George near West Lake Provincial Park. To reach the trail head drive west on Highway 16 and follow the signs for West Lake Provincial Park. Drive through the beach area for West Lake until you reach a major junction with a sign that reads "Fort George Canyon Trails 2km" to the left. Drive for 3.5km to the parking lot (the road narrows after 1.5km).
  • This trail leads through a pine forest that changes to spruce and birch and makes a gradual descent for 2.9km to the first viewpoint. Then the path descends more rapidly to a bench above the Fraser River. The trail follows the top of the bench before descending through a ravine to the shores of the river. When the water levels are low it is fun to walk to some islands and enjoy a picnic.
  • This area has historical significance to Prince George as until 1914 the Fraser River was the highway in and out of this region and the Fort George Canyon was one of the obstacles that sternwheelers had to navigate. Jagged rocks, rapids, and whirlpools meant the sternwheelers had to be winched through this section while the passengers portaged. 
  • Historically, local First Nations used this area as a fishing site.

Raven Lake (4.7km)

  • Raven Lake’s trailhead is located about 1.5 hours (90km) on Highway 16 east of Prince George in Sugar-bowl/Grizzly Den Provincial Park and Protected Area. The park is habitat for Caribou, Grizzly Bears and other animals.
  • Take Highway 16 east to reach Hungary Creek Forest Service Rd. On Hungary Creek drive 15.6km until you reach a fork in the road. At the fork proceed right leading you directly to Raven Lake parking lot.
  •  Raven Lake hike takes 2-3 hours to reach a cabin in the alpine at 4.7km and another 1-2 hours back to the parking lot. This trail is located in the backcountry so it is important to be prepared for the hike by packing bear spray and survival equipment (rain gear, food, water, first aid and survival kit).
  • The trail starts with a slight downhill slope, passing a small-unnamed lake to your right. Your uphill hike begins at the switchbacks. The trail can be quite muddy –it’s  recommended to wear good hiking boots. The switchbacks eventually open into small meadows surrounded by trees and small bodies of water. There’s a short downhill section made difficult by large boulders, but within a short distance you’re rewarded by sights of the cabin sitting on the edge of the gorgeously clear Raven Lake.

Grizzly Den (9km)

  • Grizzly Den is located within the same provincial park as Raven Lake; except the Grizzly Den trailhead/parking lot is to the left of the fork when driving up Hungary Creek Forestry Rd.
  • The Grizzly Den hike takes between 3-6 hours to reach the summit at 9km and 1-2 hours to descend to the parking lot. There are 2 cabins on this trail; one located within 1km of hiking and the second at the 6km marker. You may have guessed from the name –this hike is in bear habitat. It’s recommended to carry bear spray and bear bells with you during your hike and to be completely self-sufficient and prepared with necessities (rain gear, food, water, first aid and survival kit).
  • August is the best month to hike this trail. In July, plenty of snow may still on the trail which will slow you down significantly because your shoes may get wet (snowshoes are an option which may allow you to maintain a steady pace). A personal recommendation I’d give is to plan an overnight stay at the cabin (6km). After a night’s sleep you can resume your hike to the summit then casually stroll back to the parking lot. 

There are many types of user groups that want to explore the outdoors. The top 3 accessible trails (trails designed with Boomers, wheelchairs, families and the general public in the forefront of the planning process) in Prince George are: GWL Mobility Trail, The Ancient Forest and Forests for the World.

GWL Mobility Trail (Great West Life Mobility Nature Trail)

  • Drive 30 minutes (23km) south on Highway 97 until you turn left on Buckhorn Rd. Follow Buckhorn to Scott Rd, also on the left. Follow Scott Rd until you reach the gravel road and the parking lot will be on your next right. You can drive right up to the trailhead and park.
  • The trail meanders through a forest of Douglas Fir trees and truly is a beautiful place to venture. There is one very clearly marked wheelchair accessible trail. The trail is 450 meters, following Dougherty Creek and offers 8 benches throughout for occasional breaks and to take in the serenity. Try to spot some hidden friends on the trail: gnomes, tree faces, angels, owls and more, that have been placed in discreet spots throughout the trail.

 

The Ancient Forest

  • Located 1.5hours (113km) east of Prince George on Highway 16 there is a well-marked sign on the right hand side of the highway to lead you into the parking lot.
  • 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 the 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 and it deserves to be seen by everyone. A group of local volunteers began the project of building a universal boardwalk through part of the forest which was completed in August 2013. The boardwalk  takes you through 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 located right in the city of PG upon Cranbrook Hill. From Highway 97 (Central Street) turn onto 15th Avenue, turn right onto Foothills until you reach Cranbrook Hill Rd (left hand side). Cranbrook Hill is very steep so please take precaution; continue up until you reach Kueng Rd. Turn left on the gravel road and continue 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 around the lake that is fully accessible. Follow the map located at the trailhead to navigate the loop to Shane Lake. I believe it’s 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 of varying abilities. Forests for the World is a must see while in the city, regardless if you get around on two feet or two wheels!

 

Dawn Kealing Travel Writer, Life, Love and Adventure

dawnkealing@gmail.com http://www.dawnkealing.com

Prince George BC Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights truly are Mother Nature's beautiful creation. Living in Northern British Columbia in Prince George we have the privilege of experiencing her beautiful dancing Aurora Borealis. This gorgeous performance in the night sky can be seen all year round with the proper tracking. This blog will discuss and answer a few frequent questions on how to see and photograph the beautiful Northern Lights. 

Before discussing the best way to view and photograph the Northern Lights, many people want to know what the Northern Lights are and how they are created. After some brief research I discovered they are the result of many collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. The many, many variations in colour in the Northern Lights are due to the type of gas particles that are reacting with each other. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 322km (200 miles). Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. The Northern Lights can be seen in many different shapes and forms, ranging from patchy or scattered clouds of lights, to beautiful rippling curtains or shooting rays of light illuminating the sky with and eerie mysterious glow. 

 Another pair of common questions is: what is the best location for viewing the Northern Lights? and when is the best time? As a photographer I'm always searching for the next best location, but for anyone trying to view or take pictures of the Northern Lights I would strongly suggest a quick drive out of the city.  Prince George has light pollution which can make viewing the Northern Lights difficult and less vibrant; it's not impossible but you need a much stronger solar storm for city viewing. A quick drive in any direction out of the city at one of our beautiful lakes would be the best suggestion (Nukko Lake, West Lake, Shane Lake, Tabor Lake, Bednesti Lake, or Purden Lake).

As for the best time, there really isn't one. My suggestions would be to Google an Aurora group and join one that has free email subscriptions for Yellow and Red Alerts. I combine an Email Notification, an iPhone Aurora app with Notification, and many Facebook groups with all sorts of Notifications. To chase the Aurora properly, I have found one must exhaust all options. 

To  successfully photograph the Northern Lights all you need is a camera and tripod, For a successful night shot you need your camera to be on a sturdy object. Secondly you need a  camera; preferably a DSLR camera and some Smart Cameras with the ability to control your Shutter Speed to a minimum of 5-10 seconds. Normally I will zoom my camera out so I can see as much as the night sky as possible, (24-120mm I would use 24mm) For night shots I use between 10-20 seconds for my Shutter Time. Why 10 seconds? You want the camera to let as much light in as possible. This is why you drive away from the light pollution of the city.

It is also important to carefully select your ISO. I normally start off at 800 ISO, if it's too dark then bring your ISO up and vise versa. An easy set up guide for starting is: lowest focal length, 10-20 Seconds, and 800 ISO. Adjusting all the settings for the perfect shot is different every night and every location.

The number one tip I will give everyone is to always have fun and enjoy what you’re doing on your night adventure, regardless of whether you’re taking photos or not. Mother Nature can be tricky sometimes.  Don't give up if you’re unsuccessful on your first try. Most photographers will visit the same spot 5-10 times before achieving the photo they want.

Thanks again for your time and reading my blog on the Northern Lights.

If you want to follow any of my recent work, you can find me on Facebook at K.Foot Photography and Instagram @kfootphotography. 

 

Guardian Aerospace Flight Seeing Tour: This is the backcountry frontier.

I’ve had my share of world travels, but there is no scene so complete, in my mind, as the winding Kitchi Creek, unfurling into the McGregor River from Kakwa Provincial Park, with the towering Mt. Ida presiding over it all.

In October 2015, I took a flightseeing tour with Guardian Aerospace and two other photographers to Kakwa Provincial Park. Our Cesna 172 followed the Torpy River into the mountains east of PG, and on the way we window shopped for what will be years worth of alpine hiking trips. Then, the massive, humbling rock faces of Mount Sir Alexander sprung up around us, and the legendary landscapes of Kakwa seemed just beyond our reach. The park is renowned for its dramatic, mountainous scenery, but also revered for its remoteness. As such, a flight tour in the park is a visual feast for anyone to enjoy, but for a backcountry enthusiast, it’s a must have experience. 

It so happens that Kakwa, the Cree word for “porcupine,” has been on my hiking bucket-list for a few years: an endeavour inspired by recent photography from adventurers before me. Like many recreational areas in the region, this one’s modern access was made by mining and forestry activities, then it was established as a park to protect it from those same industries. To give you a sense of the area’s relatively untravelled newness, its highest peak was not winter-summited until 1990, and it did not receive Class A park status until 1999.

If you’re prone to wilderness wanderlust, a flight seeing tour in the mountains is the ultimate tease. In a couple short hours you will see Arctic Lake and Pacific Lake side by side at the continental divide, scarcely trodden hiking routes, rarely touched mountains and hardly travelled waterways. These inspiring elements are all key to the allure of northern BC’s barely explored adventuring frontier.

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