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Hudson's Bay Company (1849) Heritage Trail

HBC Palmer's Pond-Hirez_edited.jpg

The HBC (1849) Heritage Trail is a 74 km long trail that traverses the Cascade Mountains between Hope and Tulameen in beautiful British Columbia. Gaining a cumulative 3,922 metres of elevation over rough and rugged terrain, this challenging trail is often completed in smaller sections as day hikes or overnights, with some others taking it on as a 5-8 day backpacking trip.

 

Make sure to join the HBC Heritage Trail Facebook Group for updates on this trail from Hope Mountain Centre and other trail users. 

HBC Map & Guide Book

Plan your trip and navigate this trail by purchasing a waterproof, topographic map, and/or a guidebook that we published about the HBC Trail. You can click below to purchase from our online store, or find them in local shops like Baker's Books, Hope Outdoors, and the Hope Visitor Centre. All proceeds support our annual maintenance of this trail. 

NAVIGATION APPS

Prefer using digital maps and navigation on your phone? Download the HBC trail map for offline access on the Avenza app

Trail Stats

Trailhead Locations:

Peers Creek: https://maps.app.goo.gl/p9QcJiVg6QCcGPiQ7

Sowaqua: https://maps.app.goo.gl/kiBqUwddp6gP7PJB7

Jacobsen Lake: https://maps.app.goo.gl/6aYGUtwqYW3T58V47

Tulameen: https://maps.app.goo.gl/CeanmtsA5kSnL6Pa7

One-Way Trip Trail Distance in KM: 74

Elevation Gain in M: 3,922

Highest Point in M: 1,860

Dogs Allowed: Yes (on leash)

4 X 4 Needed: No

History

First Nations have traditionally used this route through the Cascades for their seasonal rounds which included hunting, fishing and gathering. There is also evidence that the Coastal and Interior Bands used this trail as a trading route. 

 

The Cascade Mountains were a formidable barrier to early trade and commerce between British Columbia’s interior and the coast. Before the establishment of the 49 th Parallel as the Canada-United States border in 1846, most trade flowed down the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. When control over the lower Columbia River was established by the U.S., the Hudson’s Bay Company needed to find an all-British route to link up with Fort Langley on the Fraser River.


The first exploration for such a route was carried out in 1846 by Alexander Caulfield Anderson, an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. On the advice of Indian guides, who he had engaged at Fort Langley, he followed the river valleys south and east from Hope to Snass Creek. He then went north past the Punch Bowl, which he named for a similar feature in the well-known Athabasca Pass, and followed the Tulameen River down to a point near the present site of Tulameen. It was here he found out from a local aboriginal hunter, Blackeye, that had there been less snow on the ground (it was early June), he could have followed a hunting trail from the upper reaches of the Tulameen
River over the Tulameen Plateau.


Not entirely satisfied with this route, Anderson set out again in 1847 to explore the country directly west of Merritt. This route, via the Anderson River, was used for the “brigade” of 1848. However, there was so much dissatisfaction with it that Henry Peers, and other Hudson’s Bay Company employees, were sent out to establish a better route which became the Hudson’s Bay Trail of 1849. In spite of the hard climb, over Manson’s Mountain and the steep hillside below Campement du Chevreuil, it was used each year for the next 10 years or so. During this period, life in British Columbia was still dominated by the affairs of the Hudson’s Bay Company.


There were a number of established camps along the trail, which were spaced about a day’s journey apart for the horse brigades (15 - 20 miles per day). This was the maximum distance attainable by the contingents of up to 400 pack horses, mules, and men regularly pounding over the Cascade Mountains on the Hudson's Bay Company (1849) Heritage Trail trail during passable months of the year as they headed for Hope. Once reaching Hope they transferred to the Fraser River sternwheelers bound for Fort Langley, New Westminster, and Fort Victoria.


The discovery of gold in 1858 changed the focus of trade and commerce. British Columbia was faced with a sudden influx of miners and all the attendant infrastructure. Americans from Bellingham Bay soon pushed through a trail via the Punch Bowl to link up with the Hudson’s Bay Company (1849) Heritage Trail. This became known as the Whatcom Trial. In 1860 the Colonial Government, under Governor Douglas, conducted investigations for a route from Hope to the Similkameen District to provide access to the mining country. Edgar Dewdney was awarded a contract for the construction of a good mule road to get there. The Hope Pass Trail, and others that were built soon after, became the main avenues of travel between the B.C. Coast and interior. As a result, the Hudson’s Bay Company (1849) Heritage Trail was not heavily used after 1861.


However, the area of the trail was not totally forgotten. In 1929 it was explored by F.A. Devereax for a possible mining trunk trail to connect 18-Mile Creek on the Similkameen Trail with Boston Bar by following Sowaqua Creek and parts of the Coquihalla River. At the same time the area had already been extensively staked with mineral claims. There is also evidence of people using the trail around the time of the 1938 forest fires.


In the 1960's and 1970's the Okanagan Historical Society and the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society researched and located the original trail. Their efforts to research, locate, publicize and lobby for the protection of the trail resulted in the preservation of this extant section of trail.

HBC Merch

Love this trail? Purchase an HBC Trail activewear t-shirt or tank top! You can click below to purchase from our online store. All proceeds support our annual maintenance of this trail. 

Other Trails Nearby

Trail Reports

Feel free to leave a comment below with trail reports so other users can learn about current conditions. ​To report an issue with the trail, please email our trails team kpearce@hopemountain.org

Comments (7)

Guest
Jun 16

Hello good morning from lytton I ran into fellow believe name was Nate but talked about about what I done and thought you had great program and love learn more about it

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Guest
May 29

Hello! I was told there was a need to register to join the HBC hike on June 1 but I can't find where to register. Let me know if you can point me in the right direction?

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Guest
Jun 03
Replying to

The trail benefited from many hours of excellent work preparing it for  the June 1 reopening event, which attracted about 45 hikers. It was a delightfully challenging hike to Manson's camp. I was glad to have brought both poles for the few steep descents. Mud baskets would have helped, since the recent rainy spell and high usage that day created several very muddy patches where runoff crosses the trail. One bridge was quite slippery, possibly from freshet submersion. The 16km RT took me (a relative trail novice) 7hrs, including a 15 min lunch break at the camp. - David H.

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Guest
Feb 17

test comment on hbc page

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