More exploring at Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC

In the last 2 posts, I’ve covered the 7 canyons that I hiked during my 5 days at Muncho Lake Provincial Park in late August. But the dogs and I did a lot more – here’s a look at a couple of hiking trails, campgrounds, airplanes, storms, and more.

Before I take you to Muncho Lake, I want to show you some bison. I don’t often take photos of bison anymore, other than new calves. But this was one of the largest herds I’ve ever seen – probably more than 100 animals – and they caused quite a traffic jam. They were at about Km 860, north of Fireside.

A large herd of bison along the Alaska Highway
A huge pullout at Km 717 of the Alaska Highway was my parking spot for the 5 days / 4 nights. I had intended to just stay for a couple of days and then move down to Summit Lake, but the hiking – the experience generally – was so wonderful that I stayed here.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
A great view is one of my two most-wanted features for overnighting with the RV – the other is simply a level spot. The pullout had a long list of positive attributes, including the view. Sunrises were stunning, with a broad vista to the south and a closer look at the mountains to the west as they turned brilliant red.

Sunrise along the Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
I had come down to Muncho because of a really good weather forecast. It turned out to be nowhere near as good as I’d hoped, and there were some wild storms. Luckily, I never got hit by any of the storms while I was out hiking the canyons, although I only made it back to the motorhome with minutes to spare a couple of times.

Storm in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Settled in the motorhome, rainy spells are good times to rest, read, snuggle with Bella, Tucker, and Molly, and just listen to the rain on the roof. The storms were all as short-lived as they were wild, though.

Rain on the Alaska Highway at Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
This storm on Saturday evening was by far the wildest one I saw, and it never did reach us. The RV in the photo stopped for a few minutes, and the driver got out and took some photos of what he was going to drive into. A few minutes later, a motorcycle stopped, and he got lucky. In the 10 minutes or so that he sat at the pullout, the storm passed over the valley, and he probably didn’t hit any rain at all.

Storm at Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The pullout has good separation from the highway so I didn’t need to leash Bella and Tucker to take them for walks. During their walks, I took a lot of photos of the highway with the beautiful limestone mountains of the Sentinel Range behind.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
I did some late-evening traffic photography, but it took all the patience I could muster – a vehicle only came by every 20-25 minutes. This is my favourite shot, though a strong wind shook the tripod during the 13-second exposure as a semi went by at 9:20.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The pullout was a pretty good people-watching location, too. This woman spent her time taking selfies with her dog while her partner fuelled up their pickup with several jerry cans of gas.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Even with the amount of stuff strapped onto the roof, there couldn’t have been much room in this minivan with a dog that size in it. The driver was sure taking good care of that dog, though – he got a drink and a whole lot of love during the few minutes they spent there.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Okay, let’s go exploring. This is the view to the north from the north end of my pullout.

Bison warning sign on the Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC

Salt Lick Trail

Ten kilometers north, at Alaska Highway Km 726.7, is the Salt Lick Trail (a.k.a. Mineral Lick Trail), a 1½-km loop trail that goes to a view over the Trout River, and some hoodoos.

Salt Lick Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The rock flour (rocks ground into powder by glaciers) found along the Trout River contains calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, and sodium, so moose, Stone sheep, caribou and other animals come here to lick the soil to get those important nutritional supplements.

Salt Lick Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The view over the Trout River, looking south towards Muncho Lake. The steep banks along this trail are all fenced to keep visitors safe.

Salt Lick Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Driving south on the Alaska Highway, at Km 711.6, just south of the Muncho Lake viewpoint that most travellers stop at.

The Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The amount of gravel that’s been shoved around to control spring floods is quite amazing, but work continues every year. This new channel is at Km 711.3.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Staff at the Watson Lake Visitor Reception Centre recommended the Muncho Lake RV Park at Km 710.1, and new signs along the highway point to it. The owner of the property apparently came up with a new plan, though, and it appears to be some sort of private RV club or co-op now.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The view south at Km 699, just north of the Muncho Lake community and the Double G Service lodge.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The Red Rock Canyon Trail at Km 697.4 is as far south as we went. It didn’t look all that interesting, though, and even the aerial photos aren’t enticing compared to the many other hiking options in the area.

Red Rock Canyon Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The federal government is in charge of the Alaska Highway in much of British Columbia. While most of the kilometer-posts are the usual small green ones, each sign marking even hundreds of k is a special one with a red maple leaf. The Km 700 sign is seen on the right in the next photo.

Alaska Highway Km 700 in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
There are only 2 small government campgrounds in Muncho Lake Provincial Park. Each has 15 sites, and costs $20 per night. Strawberry Flats Campground is pinched between the highway and the lake at Km 700.5.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The next photo shows the turnaround at the north end of Strawberry Flats Campground. Most of the campsites are right on the lake, with a nice gravel beach steps away from the picnic table and firepit at each site.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Going for a walk along the beach north of the campground, we came to a culvert under the highway. It’s just over 6 feet high, and I always like to get Bella and Tucker used to unusual situations, so we walked through it. Bella was okay, but Tucker wanted no part of it! He eventually gave in and came with me, though. They were on leashes so he didn’t have a lot of choice, but he did come without being dragged.

Alaska Highway culvert in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
There, one more bit of reinforcement that I only ask them to do things that are reasonable ๐Ÿ™‚

Dogs coming out of a highway culvert in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC

Old Alaska Highway Trail

From there we walked over to the start of the Old Alaska Highway Trail. This is a section of the original 1942 road that ran along the top of the cliffs along Muncho Lake. The road/trail can be seen angling up the far slope in the next photo. The hiking guide rates it as Easy, and says that the 4-km return hike should take 3 hours.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The very steep and loose climb up from the alluvial fan should have eliminated “Easy” from the trail description, and another steep section further on should have confirmed that.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The first part of the trail offers wonderful views over the modern highway, Strawberry Flats Campground, and Muncho Lake. With an open trail and nobody around, Bella and Tucker were off-leash here.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
When the trail went into the forest and berry-laden bear scat started appearing, the leashes went on to keep everyone safe.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The old road can be followed past the point where the trail guide says that it ends. That takes you to this view to the south.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Just past that view, a slide effectively blocks further travel. I’ve crossed the slide when I didn’t have dogs with me, but the old road ends at a cliff just past it. At the slide, a cairn was built on the cliff-edge, and empty beer cans and broken bottles litter the trail. I carefully disassembled the cairn so it didn’t topple over the side and kill somebody passing by below.

Old Alaska Highway Trail, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The spectacular cliffs along Muncho Lake have made it one of my favourite sections of the Alaska Highway ever since I first saw them in 1990. There’s been a bit of highway straightening along the lake, but not much.

Cliffs along the Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
Muncho Lake at its finest, looking towards the Northern Rockies Lodge.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
I’ve always enjoyed my stays at the Northern Rockies Lodge, but it’s sure getting some awful reviews on TripAdvisor lately. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s the nicest lodge on the highway and the location is superb.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The main reason that I stopped at the lodge this time was to see their aircraft. Operated as Liard Air, Ltd., they’re used primarily for fishing trips and flightseeing. C-GUDK is a De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbo Otter, a heavy modification of Otter #349, built in 1958. Urs Schildknecht, owner of the lodge, flies this beauty. In January 2011, Urs lost all 3 of his aircraft when a generator in the hangar here caught fire.

C-GUDK is a De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbo Otter, a heavy modification of Otter #349, built in 1958
The other float plane is C-GRMU, a Cessna 208 Caravan I. It was just being readied to take some fishermen out.

C-GRMU, a Cessna 208 Caravan I, at Muncho Lake, BC
The other government campground at Muncho Lake is the MacDonald Campground, at Km 709. This is the view of the access road to it while northbound.

MacDonald Campground, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
MacDonald really is a lovely campground, and has a boat launch. It’s quite a way off the highway, so is also the quieter of the two.

MacDonald Campground, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The view north at Km 715. I saw this view many times as I wandered during this 5-day stay ๐Ÿ™‚

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC
The only wildlife we saw were Stone sheep, which we saw twice. Tucker can be a barky little beast, but he was very polite with the sheep both times, so got to have a good look and sniff with the window open. Bella, taught well by Monty, has always been good with wildlife.

Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC

Well, that was Muncho Lake. As a result of my 9 hikes on this trip, I’ve now posted my own guide to Hiking along the Alaska Highway in northern BC. I’m not nearly finished exploring that area, but Winter is coming soon and I have a lot of work to do, so I may be shutting the motorhome down for the winter this week.




Comments

More exploring at Muncho Lake Provincial Park, BC — 8 Comments

  1. Love Muncho and Liard down the road. Nice job. Like your writing style. Great pics and narrative. I’m in-between RV’s at moment, so enjoy posts from the Great North. Love that pull-off, too! A must stop and “absorb” the beauty pull off๐Ÿค !

    Paul
    Palmer, Alaska

  2. Pingback: Exploring around Drumheller - dinosaurs and a suspension bridge

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