Last Updated on January 20, 2022
Time and time again we are amazed how much natural beauty there is within British Columbia — and you sure do not need to travel far to find it. One of our favorite places, just a couple of hours away from Vancouver, is Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, where you will find the historical Othello Tunnels. They are one of the most spectacular man-made attractions in the Lower Mainland. The contrast between the man-made structure and the steep granite cliffs is wild. Mother nature sure worked her magic around those tunnels – the scenery is breathtaking.
A couple of years ago the Othello Tunnels also celebrated 100 years.
Othello Tunnels Trail
The trail is a short and easy flat gravel family-friendly 3.5 km, round-trip route. In the early 1900’s, the Canadian Pacific Railway created a route that linked the Kootenay Region with the BC Coast by rail, built over three mountain ranges. After cutting a 300-foot-deep channel in granite, a line of tunnels was built through it, which are now known as the Othello Tunnels. The Othello Tunnels trail also links to the historic Hope-Nicola Cattle Trail.
How Long Does It Take To Walk The Othello Tunnels?
Walking the tunnels can take 1.5-2 hours if you are walking at a leisurely pace and taking your time. There are also more trails and picnic areas you can take advantage of after you wander among the tunnels.
Are Dogs Allowed At The Othello Tunnels?
Yes, you can bring your adventure buddy with you. Dogs are allowed on the hiking trails. However, they must be leashed and cleaned up after at all times.
A Perfect Picnic
We also love to bring a picnic lunch and set up surrounded by the beauty of this Provincial Park. Boardwalks, waterfalls, rushing water — it really is a magical piece of Mother Nature to explore and enjoy. Every time we go it blows us away.
Popular Movie Location
The cliffs have also been the setting of a number of movies. One of the most recognizable is Rambo: First Blood, where Sylvester Stallone’s character hangs off the cliff while a helicopter tries to shoot him down.
A Dark History
There is, however, a dark history behind the engineering marvel that is the Othello Tunnels. The most dangerous and difficult construction jobs were given to Chinese Labourers — and many lost their lives while using explosives to blast through sections of the mountains.
The tunnels were named the Othello Tunnels because the chief engineer on the project was an avid Shakespeare fan.
Day Trip Suggestions
Since the Othello Tunnels is just a short and easy hike, you may want to combine it with other activities in the area. We would suggest a few other short hikes that you could add on: the Ladner Creek Trestle, Alexandra Bridge, and Flood Falls. The area of Hope, British Columbia is fantastic for adventure.
The Ladner Creek Trestle is also part of the abandoned railway line. Abandoned in 1961, the Ladner Creek Trestle is one of the only physical reminders of the Kettle Valley Railway.
We do not feel that the Ladner Creek Trestle is suitable to bring young kids along as the rock scrambling you have to do, beside a steep drop off, for the last 100m before reaching the trestle. You must be able to be sure of your footing, and little kids will not be able to do that.
How To Get There
Where: Located off Highway #5, just north of Hope
The Othello Tunnels is not too far from Vancouver, but it is still long enough that it feels like you are hitting the open road and gives you that feeling of freedom.
Best Time To Go
The trail is only open from April 1 to October 31st.
There is also no swimming allowed.
What To Bring
Keep in mind that the tunnels can be quite dark, so bring a flashlight or make sure your phone is charged.
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