Cheakamus Canyon wildlife

Last weekend we took J’s parents (who are in their seventies, but still keen hikers) on a trip to Cheakamus Canyon. One of our goals this summer has been to explore hiking trails that we haven’t been on before, and this one sounded perfect. Not too far away, excellent views, and relatively easy terrain.

Spawning salmon

The salmon run has started, and the pools left by retreating high water from recent rains were filled with dying or newly dead salmon. It was quite different from the last time we walked the Cheakamus River late in the spawning cycle; then the salmon carcasses were deep in decay, fading into the dirt beneath them.

Bear on the Cheakamus river


Early in the hike we passed a bear enjoying a salmon dinner at the water’s edge. He paid little attention to us; there were more than enough fish to go around. Shortly afterward we found another salmon on the trail with huge fresh teeth marks clearly visible. Someone else had dropped their dinner, probably quite recently.


Shortly afterwards the trail began climbing away from the river, passing over areas of rockfall before crossing the train tracks and passing through a tunnel of trees already turned to bright fall colours. A little further along we reached Starvation Lake, where the reds and yellows turned back to vibrant green.

Starvation Lake

The trail wound upwards again past viewpoints where the canyon walls peeked in and out through the low cloud ceiling. I’d like to go back and do this hike on a better day, because I know we were missing some spectacular background. Regardless, the canyon was beautiful.

Cheakamus Canyon

On one section of the trail the path had crumbled away and been replaced with fragile-looking but actually quite sturdy wire. J and I explored a little further and were treated to more stunning views of the river cascading through the base of the canyon far below us before we headed back.

Cheakamus Canyon viewpoint

We didn’t pick the best day for this hike in terms of the weather or views, but it was a great outing for a mixed ability group and the wildlife was spectacular. We’re definitely going back in the summer when the sun is shining and Starvation Lake will be good for swimming.

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