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By Kevin Hogan on July 18 2017
When I first accepted my job offer from Canfor, and realized I would be living in Prince George, I was a little apprehensive. I had only been here once in my life, when I was 10 years old, and this was only to drive through town. Thinking of town in Northern BC, I imagined people walking around in plaid shirts, being surrounded by big trucks, and not fitting in with the people up here, having lived my whole life either in Vancouver or Kelowna. My experience so far has been very different from what I expected. Yes, you see more plaid here than if you were walking down Granville Street in Vancouver. Yes, there are lots of trucks up here. But I have found the people to be extremely welcoming, and have been pleasantly surprised by not only the size of Prince George, but also how much there is to do around here. Since Prince George serves as the main center for Northern BC, it has all the stores you would need here, and they’re by no means small. Not only this, the University of Northern British Columbia has an amazing campus, and has an expansive sports center with indoor soccer fields, basketball courts, squash courts, as well as a gym and track. And the best part about living up here is that there are tons of lakes, mountains, and trails to explore within a one to two hour drive. With my jaw being broken, I have been slightly limited to what I have been able to do, but I wanted to share with everyone my first few experiences of places I’ve visited, and stuff I’ve done that I’ve really enjoyed. If you like the outdoors, then Prince George is truly an awesome place to live.
Only an hour’s drive North of Prince George, Bear Lake is a small but beautiful lake within the Crooked River Provincial Park. There are multiple sandy beaches surrounding the lake, as well as 65 vehicle accessible campsites. If you’re like me and aren’t used to Northern BC, don’t forget to bring lots of bug spray!
Whenever you ask someone about hikes and things to do around Prince George, one of the first things they’ll mention is Teapot Mountain. Talus Road, the turnoff for Teapot Mountain, is only about 15 minutes before Bear Lake, making it a short and easy drive from Prince George. The Caine Creek Forest Service Road that takes you to the trailhead is well maintained and accessible for even small cars, which also makes it convenient if you do not have a vehicle with higher clearance or four wheel drive. The hike is short, only 1.4 km each way, but is relatively steep, so I would suggest bringing hiking shoes to avoid any unnecessary slips or falls. The hike boasts a great view of the surrounding area, and is a really good introductory hike to area surrounding Prince George.
Wanting to do a little longer of a hike than Teapot, I set out with a few friends to try to tackle Raven Lake, one of the four main trails in the Sugarbowl – Grizzly Den Provincial Park and Protected Area. The turnoff for both the Raven Lake and Grizzly Den Trails is 88 kilometers east of Prince George. The Grizzly Den Trailhead is around 13 kilometers down the Hungary Creek Forest Service Road, and the Raven Lake trailhead is around 2.6 kilometers past that. Compared to Teapot Mountain, this FSR was definitely rougher, and my car bottomed out trying to cross a bridge to access the Raven Lake Trailhead, so we were forced to turn back and do the Grizzly Den Trail. Because of the rainfall in the area in the days before we hiked, the trail was quite wet and slippery, but was not overly steep in the areas we were able to access. About halfway up the trail, there was still a significant amount of snow, and since we did not bring snowshoes, we weren’t able to make it to the top. This was still a beautiful hike, and I hope to go back before the end of the summer when the majority of the snow has melted and the peak is accessible.
My most recent outdoor adventure was on the LG Gunn Trail. This trail travels along the cutbanks on the East side of the Fraser River, across from Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. Following a trail guide I received from one of my colleagues at work, I parked my car at the Lheidli T’enneh parking lot, and followed Taylor Drive to a shortcut that leads to the Yellow Head Bridge (Highway 16). After crossing the bridge, there is a shortcut directly on the right that leads to the trail. The trail travels through a lightly forested area, with many viewpoints opening up to beautiful views of the Fraser River and Prince George below. After finishing the Trail, I crossed back over the Fraser along the Simon Fraser Bridge (Cariboo Highway), and walked back to Lheidli T’enneh Park through Southern Fort George passing through Paddlewheel Park. The hike took me about two hours total, and according to my phone, was about 8.4 kilometers long. This is a nice option for a day hike within the city limits, and I plan on going back to view a sunset in the future.
This past weekend was my final weekend with my jaw wired shut, and I wanted to do as much as I could to keep myself busy and make the time go by as quickly as possible. My first excursion of the weekend was a trip to Purden Lake, about 64 kilometers east of Prince George. I’m originally from Kelowna, BC, which is known for its beautiful scenery and lake, but even with living there for 17 years of my life, I was still amazed at how beautiful this lake and the surrounding area was. From the recreational area within the Purden Lake Provincial Park, you can see views of Mount Purden and its ski area as well as the Cariboo Mountains to the South. My friends and I spent the day floating around on an inflatable island and playing Frisbee on the beach, and it made for a very memorable summer day. The recreation area has picnic tables as well as change rooms, and there is also camping on site. Even though this is a longer drive than that of West Lake, I think it is more than worth the extra time, and the highway that takes you to Purden has picturesque views of the surrounding area.
My final day of being wired was spent at West Lake, the closest lake to Prince George, a short 22 kilometers South-East of town. Meeting another student at Canfor with whom I share an office with, I joined him and his friends for a day of volleyball, soccer, football, and swimming. One of the things I enjoyed about the public beach at West Lake is that it has a volleyball court, as well as a large field where it’s possible to play sports and run around. After swimming in Purden Lake the day before, I was surprised at how strong of a smell the lake gave off when swimming in it, as well as the murkiness of the water. It was definitely enjoyable, but if you are looking for a park that is more suited to water activities, I would suggest taking the longer drive to Purden Lake.
Exciting news, as I’m finishing up this blog post, my jaw is no longer held together by wires! I’m finally free to eat real food once again, soft food at that but no longer pureed, and talk like a normal human being. The six weeks actually went by surprisingly fast, throughout this whole process my friends, coworkers, and family have been extremely supportive even when they could probably barely understand the muffled sounds I called talking through clenched teeth. So to anyone reading this who ever has to go through the process of healing a broken jaw, don’t fret! If you stay positive, the time will go by faster than you could imagine, and you will be back to normal before you know it.
I hope everyone had a safe and exciting Canada Day! I am forever grateful to live in such a beautiful country with so many great places to visit and explore, and can’t wait for the adventures to come this summer and in the future. I hope you all enjoyed this blog post, as always feel free to leave a comment or feedback below.