Vancouver is a beautiful city with an endless array of places to visit and things to do, but the beauty of British Columbia extends farther than the lower mainland. There are so many amazing places to visit on a day trip from the city, particularly during autumn, when the leaves are changing and the tourists have long returned home.
One such fall day trip that I recommend is Harrison Hot Springs, a 90 minute drive from Vancouver on the number 1 highway out through the Fraser Valley.
One such gorgeous mid-October day, we decided to take the ol’ boat out for one last drive for the year while the weather was still nice. Once you get off the highway, the roads out to Harrison pass through small villages like Agassiz, rolling fields, and sloping mountains – perfect for cruising!
History of Harrison Hot Springs
For hundreds of years, the Coast Salish First Nations people kept the spiritual and medicinal qualities of the hot springs a secret from the outside world. It wasn’t until the Gold Rush that settlers stumbled upon the hot springs, when the area saw bustling fortune-hunters travelling through en route to the Cariboo gold fields. “The Baths” quickly became a fashionable tourist attraction to experience the healing properties of the warm, highly mineral water.
After the Gold Rush ended, Harrison’s economy took a hit and it became primarily a tourist destination. Even now, Harrison has maintained its quaint village quality, with a slower pace of life.
Walking & Hiking Around Harrison Lake
One of my favourite pastimes during the nice weather is hiking, so of course we took in a few of the local hikes. What I like about Harrison is that it has walks and hikes for all skill levels, from easy walks to adventurous, advanced hikes. Below is a copy of the areas hiking map, found on Tourism Harrison Hot Springs.
The Lagoon Walk (Easy)
The Lagoon Walk the most central and popular of the walks, taking you along the beaches. It is an easy, 5km round trip walk that takes you along lake-shore and up to the building which houses the hot spring source.
Spirit Trail (Easy)
The Spirit Trail is easily accessible from the waterfront on McCoombs Drive, and connects to the Bridle Trail Loop. I highly recommend the Spirit Trail for a peaceful stroll through the seemingly enchanted forests that surround the lake. Not only is it an enchanting walk, but many of the cedars have also been decorated with beautiful clay masks made by a local artist.
There are also more easy to moderate hikes around the lake, including the Sandy Cove Trail & Whippoorwill Point and Hicks Lake Loop Trail. If you are really up for a challenge, there are also strenuous and adventurous hikes, like the Bear Mountain Trail and the Campbell Lake Trail. To find out more information about the different hikes, check out the Tourism Harrison Hot Springs website for details.
When we arrived, we also headed to the Harrison Hot Springs Tourism Information Office which is on the main road into town. They were extremely helpful about finding the trails, information on things to do, and provide excellent maps.
Eating at Harrison Hot Springs
After a long day of driving, hiking, and exploring, you will be ready for something to eat and drink. There are a lot of great restaurants in the village, but I am quite fond of the Old Settler Pub. It is a great atmosphere, decorated entirely in wood, it is a relaxed place to grab a pint.
During our day trip, we kept it simple and easy-going, but there are endless activities to do in Harrison at any time of the year. During the summer, there are tour companies that offer jet boat tours, guided hiking, kayaking and white water rafting, paragliding, and ATV tours. You can even take a Sasquatch Country tour, which “tell[s] you what we believe the Sasquatch to be and how and why it has remained elusive for so long. Your adventure is sure to be a most memorable one, filled with on-location eye-witness accounts, beautiful scenery, and plenty of amusing anecdotes” (Tourism Harrison Hot Springs.)
During the colder seasons, you can warm up in the healing hot springs after a day of skiing at Hemlock Valley Resort or spend the day at the spa for a special treat.
I hope I have been able to add a new day trip destination for your list. I will now leave you with one final picture of a leaf (can you tell I like a good leaf pic?)
I would love to hear in the comments below about any other BC day trips that you enjoy!