The 10 Hidden Gem Destinations of BC

It’s no secret that the Rocky Mountains, Whistler, and Victoria are world-renowned tourism destinations in western Canada. Each year, millions visit these cities and towns for good reasons. But, what if we tell you that you are missing out on many more? Here’s a list of 10 hidden gem destinations of BC that you may have never known or visited before!

You may be wondering, “OKA-WHAT?” or be asking “HOW DID I NOT-” Well, you’re not alone! These are unknown places to many people from British Columbia. Hopefully you you are a fan of incredible hot springs, breathtaking scenery, world-class wineries, and desert exploration.

mountains in british columbia

1. Ancient Cedars Loop – Ucluelet

As you hike along the Wild Pacific Trail, you are like walking through a living piece of art. There isn’t a place like it on Vancouver Island that is so awe-inspiring and dramatic that you feel the power of nature and of the sea!

A junction for the Ancient Cedars Loop is located just before the 7 km marker on the Wild Pacific Trail. This trail is one km long and is shaded by ancient and giant cedars that tower overhead. These trees are over 800 years old!

As one of the hidden gems in BC, a walk along the Ancient Cedars Loop provides you with the opportunity to see old-growth Sitka spruces, western hemlocks, and giant red cedars (the oldest trees on the Ucluelet peninsula). One behemoth measures over 12 meters around its base, and two are estimated to be over 800 years old. Since cedars have natural hollows, it is difficult to determine their exact ages. As this ancient specimen falls, it clearly exhibits countless rings – imagine the thunder it created as it fell. Taking a walk through the cedars you can reflect on what they have endured – gale-force winds, lightning strikes, and perhaps even a tsunami 300 years ago.

It features untouched examples of giant nurse-logs, raised root systems, mosses, fungi, lichens, and ferns, as well as a hand-hewn path through old-growth rainforest. The opportunity to capture close-up images of rainforest delights will be especially appealing to photographers.

green forests

2. Free Spirit Spheres – Qualicum Beach

As you sway side-to-side, you can see trees and leaves in all directions. The smells of the forest will fill your senses as you take deep breaths. Free Spirit Spheres will definitely evoke childhood memories of climbing and treehouses. There will be no roughing it here, this is the grown-up version. Free Spirit Spheres can provide you with tranquility and even luxury if you’re looking for a change of pace from trails and campgrounds.

Cedar and spruce balls recall huge nuts and seeds and work in cooperation with the natural environment. By attaching the suspension to a number of strong points among the trees, it mimics spider webs.

In addition to making use of sailboats and construction methods heavily, the spheres are made of wood and fiberglass. There are fold-out tables and mirrors inside the curving walls as well as curved benches and beds and tiny appliances hidden inside the portholes.

The free spirit spheres can be rented overnight for those seeking “the ultimate tree-house experience.” For a look-see, you must book an appointment since they are on private property.

free spirit island

3. Othello Tunnels – Hope

As a part of the historic Kettle Valley Railway, the Othello Tunnels are located near Hope, B.C. These tunnels were built in 1914 and have an interesting history. The railway ceased operation in 1961. It is this section of the railway that has become Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park since 1986.

The Othello Tunnels are among the masterpieces of early 1900s engineering. The canyon’s geology and the tunnels’ inventive engineering make it a popular tourist destination. Through steep canyon walls, there are 5 tunnels that make up the Othello Tunnels. Coquihalla River snakes thunderously through the canyon below, passing beneath two trestles connecting the tunnels.

The tunnels can be explored in two ways. One option is to follow the tunnels straight from the parking lot and return after passing through all of them. You can do this short hike if you’re short on time or have small children if you’re limited on time.

Alternatively, you can hike the Hope-Nicola Valley Trail. You will traverse a scenic forest for 6 km, with some good climbing. Afterward, the loop ends by returning through the Othello Tunnels.

Did you know?

The Othello Tunnels were named after the famous character from the play Othello. It is because the engineer of the tunnels, McCulloch, was a big fan of Shakespeare!

tunnel in canada

4. The Tree on the Lake – Port Renfrew

For those who may look at this title and wonder, what could be so unique about a tree on the lake? Here’s what you need to know!

In the calm waters of Fairy Lake on Vancouver Island, 70 miles from the port city of Victoria on British Columbia’s coast, is a plucky arboreal wonder.

The idyllic Fairy Lake is located in the unspoiled landscape of Port Renfrew, living up to its name. Against the stillness of the lake, a submerged log stands out. The Douglas fir tree is clinging to the log with all its might. Moreover, this log, too, is made of Douglas fir. The dead tree provided the stunted tree with food and support, so it’s as though it sacrificed itself to the tiny tree that grew on it. There are many tourists, boaters, and hikers that come to enjoy this unique view of nature and rebirth.

Among the reasons this tree is so popular is that it requires no hiking to see it as it can easily be seen from the edge of Pacific Marine Road. If you’d like to find the exact location, you can use Google Maps, although, keep in mind that there is no cell service out here. Therefore, download area maps in advance so that you can use them offline.

port renfrew

5. Parkhurst Ghost Village – Whistler

On the shores of Green Lake sits an abandoned logging settlement filled with historical artifacts including crumbled buildings, abandoned cars, old stoves, and even a cabin. There has been no one in the town since the 1960s, and the forest is gradually reclaiming the land.

For an experience that is off the beaten track, try hiking to the Parkhurst Ghost Town in Whistler.

The trail is usually free of snow between April and October. Between December and March, you’ll need snowshoes and good route-finding skills. The call is yours when you want to take the trip!

Once you’ve decided when you want to go, here’s more you’ll need to know.

The small settlement was home to about 70 loggers. A store and school were built in the late 1930s, but they did not last long. Today, some rusting buildings and vehicles remain. Over 70 loggers lived and worked in the small settlement, which has been covered in colorful graffiti.

Best hiking trail with a lot of spooky and unique discoveries, the Parkhurst Ghost Town in Whistler is for adventure-seekers and thrillers!

ghost village canada

6. The Spotted Lake – Osoyoos

According to the British Columbia Visitor Centre, Spotted Lake has been considered sacred by the indigenous people of the Okanagan Nation for centuries. According to them, each of the circles was reputed to have healing and medicinal properties. Indigenous peoples of the Okanagan Valley called it Kliluk Lake.

Although it may look all fairytale for some, spooky for others, you can’t get too close to the lake if you want to see it. With a sign explaining that the area is culturally and ecologically sensitive, a fence has been erected to protect it. The polka dots on the lake, however, can be viewed from various vantage points along the highway.

7. Smiling Buddha Room – Horne Lake

It’s not hard at all to spot the image of Buddha sitting serenely above a reflecting pool in one of the caves known as the “smiling buddha room.”. A reflection of the Buddha’s form is mirrored in the pool, creating an incredibly beautiful image.

Those taking part in caving adventures are always surprised by what they find. In a cave full of beauty, Buddha makes a picture that’s sure to make it onto Instagram.

Aside from hidden waterfalls, ancient fossils, crystalline formations and so much more, island caving is truly a unique and exciting experience.

lake view in british columbia

8. Greenheart Treewalk – Vancouver

A canopy walkway, Greenheart TreeWalk provides an aerial trail that allows visitors to experience the forest from an elevated vantage point. By exploring this lofty environment, visitors can learn about its flora and fauna.

A 310 meter-long treetop canopy walkway, located in the center of UBC Botanical Garden, is hung from massive Douglas fir, cedar, and grand fir trees, some of which are over 100 years old. The walkway offers a bird’s eye view of Vancouver’s amazing coastal temperate rainforest from nearly 20 meters in height. As you navigate suspended walkways and tree platforms high above the forest floor, your adventurous spirit is sure to be sparked.

Walk from one platform to the next at your own pace or opt for an informative tour led by knowledgeable guides. On a viewing platform 23 meters above the forest floor, you will be able to take in the sights and sounds as if you’re 23 meters above the forest floor.

With Greenheart’s approach, trees and habitats are impacted in the smallest possible way. A treetop canopy walkway system that is bolted into the trees can damage the trees or the delicate ecosystem surrounding them. However, the Greenheart TreeWalk does not damage trees or surrounding ecosystems. The platforms are hung from trees by an innovative cable tension system, removing the need for nails and bolts. With features like the “Tree Hugger” cable system and the “Kissing Bar”, the walkway is an excellent addition to the forest’s landscape.

greenheart treewalk

9. Angel Springs – Kelowna

This moderate trail in Kelowna begins at Little White Forestry Service Road and offers visitors a chance to see natural springs and interesting geological formations.

Located along KLO creek, the trail is 4km long and has narrative plaques that describe the local flora, including Douglas-fir, Lodgepole Pine, Western Larch, and Western Red Cedar.

Even though the underground water is heated to over 100°C through geothermal action, the surface springs are lukewarm at about 25°C and can be recognized by tufa deposits that are orange in color and higher than a meter high. The mineral tuff is formed when calcite crystallizes after evaporating water.

During springtime, Angel Springs can become quite cool from mountain runoff. For best results, visit in the summer.

10. Spirit Trail – Harrison Hot Springs

The story behind the Spirit Trail captures our attention. Following his walk through the woods with his dog, an artist created clay masks for trees. He believed that “the woods were enchanted and that the trees had individual personalities.”

It is very easy to walk the Spirit Trail. It’s a beautiful trail full of ferns and fun little spots to explore along its length.

At the end of the trail, there is a group of masks arranged in a circle. You feel as if they are staring at you from every angle. A haunting and enchanting experience, yet almost eerie and haunting at the same time.

The 30-minute walk through the lush and scenic cedar forest is short and sweet. A short drive from Harrison Hot Springs brings you to the trailhead, where you can easily get in touch with nature.

harrison hot springs

Well, now you can say goodbye to your usual trips around B.C and set your bucket list goals to check out these 10 hidden gems of B.C! Don’t waste any more time, add them all to your list right away and start exploring.