Stories of the Gold Rush era—and the routes that led proprietors, miners, and the people who “mined the miners” to the province’s gold fields—have long lured adventurers to British Columbia. “Gold fever” spawned communities seemingly overnight along the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail, and while most towns disappeared as quickly as they emerged, some have lingered, attracting visitors to this day. Visitors with mobility needs will be pleased to find a large network of accessible trails in the region.
- Williams Lake
- Likely BC
- Barkerville Historic Town
- Mountain Scenery
Williams Lake Airport is supported by Pacific Coastal Airlines who provide services to people with mobility issues. Please contact the airline in advance to discuss assistance. Pick up your adapted vehicle and head to your hotel for check-in.
The Museum of the Cariboo Chicoltin, located at the Tourism Discovery Centre—a massive, log home-style Visitor Information Centre—is a must. The museum showcases the diverse history of the Cariboo Chilcotin region and is the only museum in BC that focuses on ranching, rodeos, and cowboys.
Scout Island is the place for bird watching. In spring and fall, hundreds of species of migratory birds pass by the area’s marshland and lake. The nature house and some of the trails are wheelchair accessible, but call in advance for current trail conditions.
Detour east to the small town of Horsefly, and you’ll find a community dedicated to accessibility. All Horsefly businesses are accessible, as are amenities such as the local campground, fishing dock, and the Horsefly River Spawning Channel Trail.
Explore the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush that unfolded in 1859. Here, the communities of Quesnelle Forks, Cedar City, Keithley Creek, and Likely sprung to life overnight.
Stop at Big Lake Ranch, located on the shore of Big Lake. This was once a major stop for miners, and some buildings from the ranch are still standing. Today the Community Hall is a popular gathering place that houses the town’s post office, fire and rescue department, district library, and gym. Make your way along the 500-m (1,640-ft) Big Lake Community Hall Low Mobility Trail, a packed gravel surface that loops from the Community Hall through the forest along the lakeshore and back.
The next stop is Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre, where the 305-m (1,000-ft) Gavin Lake Low Mobility Trail is adjacent to the Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre. Boardwalks cross over swampy areas of the lake and the forest, and two accessible bridges offer viewing platforms. The Forest Education Centre has accessible washrooms.
Your next stop is Cedar Point Provincial Park, where old-growth forest and Quesnel Lake—famed as the deepest inland fjord lake in the world—draw frequent visitors, as does the Cedar City Museum, which highlights the gold rush boom towns of Quesnelle Forks, Cedar City, and Keithley Creek. This area was a key stopover point for local Indigenous peoples and later a rendezvous spot for fur trappers and traders until gold was discovered in 1858. There are low-mobility trails here, and the museum and washroom beside the museum are accessible.
Thanks to the dedication of Likely residents, some of the pioneer buildings and cemeteries have been restored. The Quesnelle Forks Low Mobility Trails make their way through the historic town and have accessible picnic tables, benches, and outhouses.
Head back to Williams Lake and Highway 97 for overnight.
Head north from Williams Lake to Soda Creek, home of the Xat’sull First Nation. In 1909, Soda Creek played an important role in the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway that transported passengers from Ashcroft to Fort George (now Prince George). Indigenous land was seized by European settlers (backed by the colonial government), and the local Indigenous community was relocated onto a small patch of reserve land between the highway and the Fraser River.
Today, the Xat’sull Nation operates the Xat’sull Heritage Village, which showcases the history of the Secwepemc Nation and their traditional way of life. Take a tour with a cultural guide to view the teepees and winter homes, or pit houses (also known as kikule houses), drying/tanning racks, a lean-to, a sweat house, and a summer hut.
Arrive at Quesnel and check into your hotel.
Depart Quesnel heading north, then turn right onto Barkerville Highway (Highway 26)—a scenic road where you’re likely to spot wildlife.
During the Cariboo Gold Rush, this major artery was travelled by miners enroute to the gold fields in Barkerville, Richfield, and Williams Creek. Cottonwood House Historic Site, east of Quesnel, was one of the most famous roadhouses along the Cariboo Waggon Road.
Continue east towards to Barkerville Historic Town, established in 1862. There are more than 125 heritage buildings on site, and miners, madams, and Chinese families (all local actors dressed in period costumes) go about their day in a town abuzz with business and drama. The St. Saviour’s Anglican Church at Barkerville Town is one of the oldest in BC and there is still a daily service.
Enjoy live performances, meals at historic restaurants, and more. The historic town is mostly wheelchair accessible, except for a couple of places where visitors may need to climb stairs to reach the second floor.
Head back to Quesnel for the night.
Spend the day relaxing amidst the beauty of the Cariboo Valley.
You might visit Quesnel District Museum & Archives. See thousands of artifacts and photographs, and pick up a Historic Walking Tour brochure from the Visitor Centre. It includes 36 points of interest and marks artifacts, signage, etc., along the route. (Not all are wheelchair accessible; inquire with staff.)
Or, check out the paved Riverfront Trail with its beautiful views of the Quesnel River and the surrounding neighbourhood. While there is a flat section from Ceal Tingley Park toward Heritage Corner and the Walking Bridge, there are some steep slopes that may be difficult to navigate. Continue across the Walking Bridge and onto the West Quesnel Riverfront Trail along the Fraser River, and finish at the lookout point.
Today, you will head back to Williams Lake to catch a flight to your next destination.
- Accessible vehicle throughout
- Accessible accommodation throughout
- Quesnel Museum entry
- Entry and lunch at Xatśūll Heritage Village
- Entry for Barkerville Historic Town
- Breakfast most days and 1 lunch
Does not include
- International flights
- Travel Insurance
- Meals not mentioned