With open space and a bustling economy, the Peace region of northern B.C. and Alberta is quickly becoming a popular spot for the avid off-roader. Situated amongst the Rocky Mountains, there is no shortage of places to ride. Here are three great places to check out this summer.
Caw Ridge near Grande Cache, Alberta
Situated 200 kilometres south of Grande Prairie, Alberta, on Highway 40, Grande Cache is a small community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There is a rich history of coal mining in the area that has resulted in a huge network of exploration roads and cutlines.
North of town is a popular recreation area called Caw Ridge. This alpine ridgeline is accessed by numerous old mining roads, making it a pleasant outing for riders of all skill levels. Travel 30 kilometres north on the Beaverdam road to the Caw Ridge turnoff. From there, it is eight kilometres to the ridgetop.
Roads extend most of the length of the ridgeline and allow for multiple side adventures exploring the area. This is a fragile alpine environment so please stay on existing trails and respect the land.
Kakwa Falls and Horn Ridge
Kakwa Falls and Horn Ridge are two spectacular destinations located southwest of Grande Prairie on the Two Lakes Road. The Two Lakes Road is a gravel-dirt-mud road heavily used by the oil industry so caution is recommended on this road.
Check out Kakwa Falls, which are southwest of Grande Prairie, Alberta. From the parking lot where motorized traffic ends, it is only a 15-minute walk to the falls. — Steve Shannon Photography
The best time to go is late summer and into the fall once it has dried out. Staging is past Two Lakes at Sherman Meadows, Lick Creek or Tin Town. Options from the staging point range from mild to wild, and one could easily spend a lifetime exploring the old roads and trails in the area.
The road to Kakwa Falls is passable in a high clearance 4x4 but is better suited to ATVs, UTVs and off-road motorcycles. Standing water on the road is common and some of the holes can be very deep. Check the depth before heading in and always carry extraction tools.
Just before reaching the Kakwa Wildland Park boundary is the junction where you can go to Horn Ridge or Kakwa Falls. To the right is the road to Horn Ridge. Horn Ridge is a beautiful alpine ridgeline bordering the park.
Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the park except on the road to Kakwa Falls. There is plenty to explore outside of the park, though, with numerous exploration roads traversing the majority of the ridge. One branch leads to a forestry radio repeater and an incredible view of the Kakwa Valley and Two Lakes. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including mountain goats and grizzly bears.
Descending back to the junction, the left branch leads a further 20 kilometres to Kakwa Falls. This road is mostly in the provincial park so motorized trafﬁc must stay on the road. The road is plenty of fun and will keep even experienced riders on their toes.
The road ends at a parking lot and the end of motorized travel. From the parking lot, it’s a 15-minute walk to the falls viewpoint. It is well worth the walk to view the Kakwa River cascade over a ledge, falling 30 metres into a punch bowl below.
Wild animals, such as grizzlies and mountain goats, can be spotted in the Kakwa area. — Steve Shannon Photography
Pine Pass to Powder King
West of Chetwynd, B.C., Highway 97 climbs over Pine Pass before descending to Powder King Ski Resort and then Mackenzie. The area surrounding Pine Pass is an off-roader’s paradise. Logging, mining, a railway, and gas and power lines have resulted in a maze of old roads and trails to explore.
A popular ride is to start on the east side of Pine Pass and connect the roads together to reach Powder King Ski Resort. While mostly two-track, there is plenty of elevation change, rough roads and beautiful scenery to keep everyone entertained.
These three rides are just a taste of what the Peace region offers to the off-roader. Grande Prairie has an excellent riding facility complete with motocross and endurocross tracks, not to mention days of trails.
Other areas on the short list to explore include Fort St. John, B.C., Hudson’s Hope, B.C., and Tumbler Ridge, B.C. In the Peace region, the opportunities for adventure are endless!