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Rugged and beautiful, Fang Mountain is one of the region's most scenic day hikes and makes for an excellent backcountry camping trip. The views and natural features are breathtaking, but hikers pay an admission price in steep ascents, challenging terrain, and changing weather conditions. This hike is rich in sublime landscape, but hikers must be prepared for a long day (or days) in the wilderness to cover all that Fang Mountain has to offer.
This being a wilderness hike, visitors should be well prepared. We recommend purchasing the Caledonia Ramblers' hiking guide, or Hiking North Central BC guide, both available in the Prince George Visitor Centre.
From the parking area, hikers will travel a few metres and cross Pass Creek. There is no bridge except for two skinny logs, and crossing may be difficult in high water. Hikers may elect to wade through in waterproof boots or a change of footwear.
After the creek, the trail follows an overgrown logging road for 100m. The old road continues with increasing obstruction from overgrown brush, so be sure not to follow it. Watch for flagging tape and a single track trail on the right. The smaller, proper trail leads into the forest with a gradual incline, then ramps up from the new growth forest into beautiful old cedar.
After the cedar section, two boulder chutes must be crossed, separated by a short stretch of forest. Be careful when navigating the boulder chutes: some large stones rock from side to side when stepped on, and it is easy to get off-route, so watch for reflective trail markers both through the boulders and at the forest edge.
Past the boulders, the trail climbs steeply through light brush. Depending on pack weight and fitness, this section can be quite tiring; however, it's less than a kilometre to a great stopping point. The ascending trail will come to a clear fork with the right side continuing up and the left veering towards Pass Creek. This is a good place to take a break and enjoy views back down the mountain. The left path leads to a cave opening where the creek exits the mountain, but be very careful if exploring this area. Passage to the cave requires perilous scrambling over wet rocks, and traversing this area with heavy packs is not advisable.
The next section of trail (right from the junction) presents 500m of steep climbing in 5 distinct sections. More of the light brush terrain climbs up to an open, loose rock slide section. The loose rock area is short, but a heavy pack can make it seem much longer. Next, a steep rock face with a very narrow switchback route that is difficult to spot on the ascent. Hikers with big reach sometimes elect to power through an alternate route by finding handholds on the left of the rock face. From this point on, it is not unusual to encounter the shrill cry of marmots. Finally, the trail leads upwards through a steep boulder gully to a low cave opening in the mountain side ("Tooth Decave"), then a flagged cave entrance that plunges straight down from beside the trail, and finally the main Fang Cave entrance where Pass Creek runs into the mountain.
Yes, this site is home to the nationally recognized Fang Cave system and a few other caves as well. Entering the caves is reserved for experienced spelunkers with specialized equipment and thorough research. This account of the hike will not delve into the caves, but even their entrances, especially the main entrance where the creek plunges into the mountain, are notable places to stop and admire nature's powerful beauty.
Good news for those with heavy packs and tired legs: the steepest climbs are over. The trail continues past Fang Cave and then crosses the creek, so be attentive to trail markers on the other side, indicating where to cross. The path continues to climb, but more gradually for 1km to open alpine meadows and the first lake. The meadow is often saturated with water near the lakes, so again, waterproof boots or a change of footwear is ideal.
There is no marked trail from the first lake to the peak of Fang Mountain, but heading right from the lake the ridge around the alpine bowl is navigable, ending in a descent to the larger upper lake. This full route will deliver inspiring views in all directions, but it is rocky and narrow in parts: continuous care must be taken along the mountain top.
Driving to the trailhead from Prince George takes about 2 hours. With driving time, a day of hiking here will likely be a 10-14 hour trip (assuming a complete hike to the alpine meadows). While the drive is 2WD friendly, the final 1km access road requires a vehicle with some clearance: a light truck or SUV.
To find Fang Mountain, drive east from Prince George on HWY 16 to Upper Fraser Road. Turn left on Upper Fraser Road and follow it past the community of Willow River, Eaglet Lake, Upper Fraser and finally a single lane bridge over the Fraser River. Turn right at the junction after the bridge and drive for approximately 1km, then turn left onto Pass Lake Road. Follow this gravel road for 41km to the 1km access road to Fang Mountain (on the right). The access road is shortly passed Pass Lake, and just before the bridge over Pass Creek.