Trophy Meadows Trail, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker
By Kimberly Walker
Wells Gray Provincial Park in the interior of British Columbia is a hikers’ paradise. From short hikes to breathtaking waterfalls to multi-day backcountry excursions, there is a hike for everyone in Wells Gray.
Wells Gray’s Trophy Meadow trail has massive bang for your hiking buck. Trophy Mountain is one of the most readily accessible sub-alpine meadows in British Columbia, up there with Manning Park’s sub-alpine meadows and Mt. Revelstoke National Park’s Meadows in the Sky Parkway.
After departing the Trophy Meadow trailhead, hikers stroll for approximately an hour through old growth forest, which is markedly different looking than you may expect due to the elevation. The harsh climate and short growing season keeps the trees relatively small considering their age. In what feels like no time at all, hikers will pass the now derelict Shepherd’s Hut, built in the 1950s when sheep were tended on the Trophy Mountain meadows starting each year in early July. The trail’s elevation gain is quite gentle, rising only a few hundred metres in the first four or so kilometres. The peek-a-boo views of the lower portion of the trail gradually become more open, before breaking out into what can only be described as the opening scene from The Sound of Music.
When I visited Trophy Meadows in mid-July, cool spring weather had kept the lower portion of the trail wet and muddy from the runoff of melting snow and much of the upper portion, beyond the Shepherd’s Hut, was still snow covered. Despite the inevitable downsides of hiking through mud and snow, early season is the only time to catch the indescribable beauty of the blooming of the Glacier Lilies.
Sometimes referred to as an Avalanche Lily, the Glacier Lily blooms in alpine and sub-alpine meadows as snow recedes, making it a fleeting and sometimes frustrating sight to try to catch when hiking. On the Trophy Meadow trail, our timing was perfect. Once we got above the tree line, the meadows were full of the golden blooms as far as the eye could see. As the summer progresses, the fleeting Glacier Lilies fade away to the reds of Paintbrush, the purples of Alpine Lupine, and so many more.
At approximately five kilometres from the trailhead, the Sheila Lake Lookout Rock offers an excellent spot to relax and take in the views. For us, this was the turnaround point for our journey. For those travelling later in the year, Sheila Lake has six backcountry tent pads perfect for those planning to launch a multi-day trip to Long Hill, the Trophy Skyline, or to the summit of Trophy Mountain.
The worthiness of hiking the Trophy Mountain trail is impossible to overstate. While I am unendingly thankful to have hiked the trail when the Glacier Lilies were blooming, I certainly will be back again later in the season in order to see the same topography dressed in whole new clothes.
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Wells Gray Provincial Park is a gem of the provincial park system. There is so much to see that it would be impossible to squeeze it all into one trip. From front country amenities to backcountry excursions, Wells Gray is a place that reveals more and more of itself the more time you spend there.
Read our blog Visit Spectacular Wells Gray Waterfalls, British Columbia.
For accommodations in the area and elsewhere in British Columbia go to travel-british-columbia.com
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Published: May 19, 2022
Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.