Rearguard Falls & Chun T'oh Whudujut Ancient Forest

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Towards the Beautiful Islands • Tags: waterfallsforestsstate parksold growthmossy treeslakesconservation success stories • Places: Rearguard Falls Provincial Park Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut Provincial Park Purden Lake Provincial Park

I tried to sleep in, believe me, but the morning sun just didn't cooperate.

Take a tent with light-colored walls, add a 5 AM sunrise, and what you get are conditions where sleeping past 6 AM is a struggle. So, out of the tent I went.

This was the fourth of four consecutive nights' camping, and of course, the only one when it rained. I packed up my tent and laid in a course for the city of Prince George. But as I drove north, between the Rocky & Cariboo mountain ranges, I still had a few special stops to make.

So read on for old growth trees, a gorgeous lakefront picnic, and some salmon-stopping falls!

 

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Rearguard Falls

My first stop was Rearguard Falls, which felt really familiar. Like I had been there recently. (Definitely possible!)

It's a very short trail from the parking lot to nice boardwalks with good viewpoints.


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These falls mark the furthest place up the Fraser River that salmon migrate to spawn. If I was there at the right time of year, I might get to see Chinook swimming upstream.

Alas, I was not there at the right time for fish-viewing, but they are still a nice lil stop.

After many of the other waterfalls I had seen recently, these were not particularly exciting. But, they were accessible, and at a nice place to stop and take a breather early into my journey.


Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut Provincial Park

Ancient Forest Vlog I
 
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In 2005, graduate student Dave Radies travelled 130km east of Prince George to visit an old growth forest and study lichen. He was surprised and astonished to find 2,000 year old cedar trees, and perhaps, even more astonished to find that they were flagged for logging.


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According to the logging companies, these beautiful trees were "extravagant" in their use of resources, and needed to be taken out so more, smaller trees could be grown and cut with greater frequency.

This didn't sit well with Radies, who articulated the forest's value quite well in a 2007 Press Release:

“The area makes up less than 1% of the Prince George Timber Supply Area, after all. It comes down to recognizing that there are different kinds of forests and we should be doing more to utilize different tree species that are more common and grow quickly, such as birch and aspen. That’s where government policy and leadership has been lacking. We really don’t know anything about how this old cedar ecosystem works or what would even be an optimum level of harvesting. These forests are rare and certainly the oldest in the BC Interior so we only have one chance to do this right.”

By 2006, volunteers began building a network of trails in the area, opening the forest to the public and increasing public awareness. Two years later, the logging rights were cancelled.

In 2016, the area was designated a B.C. Provincial Park. It went on to secure millions of dollars in funds to build more trails and a gazbo, and is truly a first-class park.


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One of the trail sections is even handicapped accessible, which is super cool.

Throughout, the boardwalk is mostly covered in shingles. Traction was excellent, except for the one narrow step that lacked a shingle and left me flying backwards, catching my fall on the gentle hill where it lurked. (Re: don't always walk at full tilt onto a wet wooden step because you assume you have traction.)


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This park is easily the rival to any other old growth forest, or a path through the Redwoods.

Tall trees close-up
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Tall trees far away
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Ancient Forest Vlog II
 
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It's only marred by the clouds and the dreariness of the weather. A few possible loops -- I did one of the longer options, seeing the tall trees, treebeard, and the falls.

Ancient Forest Vlog III
 
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The boardwalks also boast lots of great interpretive trail signs to teach visitors about the forest ecosystem. I learned a lot just by walking around here!


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This tree, named the Radies Tree, became so damaged by visitors stepping on its roots that its life was threatened. 

It's ironic, to preserve a forest only to bring one of its stalwarts to death's door *because* its beauty became known. Just goes to show that people should REALLY stick to the trails, especially when they're near millenia old trees.

This tree, named the Radies Tree, became so damaged by visitors stepping on its roots that its life was threatened.

It's ironic, to preserve a forest only to bring one of its stalwarts to death's door *because* its beauty became known. Just goes to show that people should REALLY stick to the trails, especially when they're near millenia old trees.
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The waterfall was lovely and tranquil, and had a lot of snow around it.
The waterfall was lovely and tranquil, and had a lot of snow around it. open_in_full   info
Ancient Forest Vlog IV: Waterfall
 
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Sources


In another time of year, I would have stopped at the Sugar Bowl-Grizzly Den Provincial Park and backpacked up by Raven Lake, but I knew that the road to the trail was snowed in, let alone the trail itself. So, I kept on driving until...


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Purden Lake Provincial Park


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I wanted a scenic spot to munch my lunch, and my goodness, Purden Lake delivered. I turned off the highway somewhat at a whim, having not planned to stop at this particular provincial park. On a weekday afternoon in May, I had the entire beach with its vast array of picnic tables to myself, and sat eating a salad of leftovers and admiring the Rocky Mountains & the lake.

Purden Lake Vlog
 
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There I also made use of the convenient changing stalls in order to put on some cleaner clothes before reaching town...

Thanks for reading!

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