BCHF News Tikwalus Heritage Trail

Tikwalus Heritage Trail

Compiled by Mark Forsythe

“History should be learned through the soles of our feet.”

Harley Hatfield, heritage trail explorer and advocate (1905- 2000)
Charles Hou photograph

The Tikwalus Trail was used by the Nlaka’pamux people for thousands of years, high above what’s today called the Fraser Canyon.  The trail linked villages (one named Tikwalus), traditional fishing sites and provided access for hunting, trapping, trading and collecting plants. It also avoided the steep cliffs at Black Canyon and Hell’s Gate.

In 1847 the Hudson’s Bay Company was seeking an all British route over the Cascade Mountains between Fort Kamloops and Fort Langley because the Oregon Treaty had established the 49th parallel the year before.  Nlaka’pamux Chief Pahollock showed HBC Chief Trader Alexander Caulfield Anderson part of the Tikwalus route, and the following spring, a brigade of 400 horses and 50 men set out with furs from Fort Kamloops for Fort Langley. It was a slow, arduous journey and many horses were lost. By 1849 a safer route, “Blackeye’s Trail” (named after Similkameen Chief Blackeye) was the preferred trail. Known as the HBC Brigade Trail, it was used for the next 11 years until the Cariboo Wagon Road provided an easier route into the interior.

Retired educator Charles Hou nominated the Tikwalus Trail: “The trail connects the Fraser River at Chapman’s Bar with a ridge overlooking the Black Canyon. It is a small part of a trail that used to go all the way to Kamloops. The Tikwalus trail rewards hikers with tremendous views of the Black Canyon section of the Fraser River.”

Charles Hou photograph

In recent years the non-profit Hope Mountain Centre has worked in partnership with local First Nations and government to improve the Tikwalus and HBC Heritage Trails  for hikers and campers. More details found here: http://hopemountain.org

How to get there: Tikwalus Heritage Trail can be reached from Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon. Drive 50 km north of Hope on Highway 1. After passing Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park, look for the Alexandra Lodge on the right and continue for another 400 metres to the trailhead parking information kiosk.