5 Star Route / Published February 2022
This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.
Enjoy a short but tasty ride! Starting at the picturesque Chasm Provincial Park this route loops up to the town of “70 Mile House” on some quiet forest service roads where you will see spectacular views of lakes, mountains and wildlife. Stop in at the Sugar Shack for their world-famous poutine, a highly recommended culinary adventure. The owners are great hosts for gravel grinders. The tail end of the ride connects onto the historic Old Cariboo Waggon Road before returning riders to the beautiful canyon at Chasm. Take in the views while you digest all that poutine!
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 30 miles / 1100 ft gain
– Technical Difficulty / Risk: Moderate
– Surface: ~90% gravel, ~10% paved
– Tire Size (recommended min): 40mm
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 1.5 hours northwest of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
When we like to ride this …
Early summer to late fall. Note, parts of the Old Cariboo Waggon road section may become muddy after heavy rains.
Chasm Provincial Park
Lat / Long: 51.22180, -121.48042
Terrain and Riding: What to expect …
This ride is a great warmup ride for people new to the area or as a recovery ride after an epic long-distance ride. There are no big climbs but instead short “rises” along the way. The route can be done in either direction but the best bet is to ride it clockwise.
After a short stretch of pavement out of the park, the route turns to gravel and is generally very quiet and overall quite smooth. Keep your head up for wildlife – bears, deer, moose, badgers, and coyotes all have been spotted along the route as well as the occasional herd of cows, as this is ranch country.
The gravel road follows along a forest of pine, birch and spruce and as the route begins to track north riders are treated to stunning long-distance views of the Marble Range of mountains — a small mountain range adjoining the Fraser River on the southwestern edge of the Interior Plateau of British Columbia.
As the route begins to track east, the surface will change more from gravel to that of a sandy consistency but not enough to slow you down, and then connecting to the Great Snowmobile Trail. The trail is wide, surprisingly smooth and well signed with markers to follow towards 70 Mile House. Keep a lookout for some stunning lake views shortly before reaching the tiny village of 70 Mile.
A short stretch of pavement will lead you to the Sugar Shack, a restaurant famous for the authentic Quebec poutine and maple menu items. The owners Robert and Brenda are welcoming to gravel cyclists.
Make a careful crossing of Highway 97 then connect to the Old Cariboo Waggon Road. You will wind through the forest and eventually connect onto the Chasm gravel road. Follow the gravel road for a few miles and then a slight left back to the parking area.
Time for group pics, bike photos, high fives etc., overlooking the canyon. Sunsets are incredible here!
Highlights & Anchor Points
Chasm Provincial Park – Ecological Reserve Viewpoint / ~ Start of Route
An amazing viewpoint of the Fraser Plateau and a giant chasm created by an ancient glacier at the end of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago. Water from the melting glaciers carried silt that carved the 5 mile long, 1,965 ft wide and 984 ft deep chasm.
“The park conserves forests of ponderosa pine at the northern limit of its range, and diverse low elevation lakes and marshes. The uplands, marshes, and lakes are rich ecosystems supporting abundant wildlife.”[Chasm Provincial Park]
The park is rich in geology, featuring a spectacular display of color from successive lava flows. The flows formed layers in varying tones of red, brown, yellow and purple, which have been revealed in the steep lava-layered canyon walls through erosion over the past 10 million years. [The Outbound]
70 Mile House / ~ Mile 20
Construction of the Cariboo Waggon Road in the 1860s to transport gold and resources resulted in a number of new towns along this historic route. Towns along the Cariboo Highway are referred to by the distance north along the Gold Rush Trail from Lillooet (Mile 0). Thus 70 Mile House marks the 70-mile distance between Lillooet and this town.
This small community is one of the Cariboo’s major guest ranch areas. Several family-run ranches continue the tradition of guest-house hospitality, offering a wide selection of outdoor activities that include hiking, horseback riding, fishing, snowmobiling, mountain biking and canoeing. A must-see event is the annual Carriage Trails Driving event with fun for all ages! [British Columbia, Land Without Limits]
Old Cariboo Waggon Road / ~ Mile 20
The Cariboo Waggon Trail was constructed (1862–65) in the Fraser River valley, in southern British Columbia, Canada to serve the Cariboo gold rush. The wagon trail extended more than 400 miles from Yale on the Fraser River, through Ashcroft to Barkerville in the Cariboo Mountains. The completion of the project was regarded as an engineering triumph because of the precipitous terrain. [Brittannica]
Today, a non-profit group, New Pathways to Gold Society has set out to restore “intact, accessible sections of the road” as a public trail for hikers and cyclists.
Technical Difficulty[what this means]
Riding Difficulty: Easy
No big climbs and the surface is a fairly well-maintained gravel. Watch for ruts caused by ATVs on the snowmobile trail.
Navigation Risk: Low
Easy to navigate with only a couple of turns. The Great Snowmobile Trail signs add reassurance for riders to stay on track to 70 Mile.
Locale Risk: Moderate
Fairly remote, cell service is spotty.
Food & Water
~ mile 18.5: The Sugar Shack restaurant menu includes poutine, sandwiches, coffee, soda, water.
~ mile 20: 70 Mile General Store. Food/water, basic grocery items.
Other Ride Notes
- Recommend larger tires for added comfort and floatation on the sandy bits. 40mm or wider.
- If riding in the fall during hunting season, be aware of hunters in the area.
- Ride to the right, and watch for the occasional logging truck or rancher. It is highly encouraged to have a red blinky on your bike.
This ride can be easily combined into one of the other routes in the area for an extended option.
- February 2022 / Original Post as a 5-Star Route.
Cariboo Waggon Road Restoration Project
Part of the route traverses the historic Cariboo Waggon Road. The Road was a marvel of 19th Century engineering and a multicultural megaproject that defined modern British Columbia. Royal Engineers laboured side by side with First Nations and Chinese workers and gold seekers from around the globe to build it. To walk on it is to connect with the excitement of the Cariboo Gold Rush, fur trade era and millennia of First Nations trade and travel.
Make a difference by giving back, whether that be volunteering with New Pathways or one of your hometown associations that work to protect recreational spaces.
Riding Caribou Country!
Enablers of Fun: Kelly & Erin
- Cariboo Waggon Road Restoration Project
- Richard Wright and Amy Newman retracing the Cariboo Waggon Road
- Chasm Ecological Reserve