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Nine Prince George spots to be alone in nature during the COVID-19 pandemic

It's time to enjoy the great outdoors alone or in small groups
IMG_3630
Can you guess where this photo was taken? (via Hanna Petersen)

As spring is on its way (hopefully) and everyone is practicing physical distancing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a better time to get reacquainted with nature. 

As long as you stay a two metres away from others, you can still go outside.

Luckily, Prince George provides ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

We’ve assembled a list of a few places, either within city limits or close to town, to check out if you’re tired of walking around your neighbourhood.

The city has also placed informative signs on city trails to educate others about keeping a physical distance of two metres (or the length of a hockey stick) from others while enjoying the outdoors.

And because it’s nearly spring and snow will be melting, remember to dress appropriately and check the weather conditions before you head out.

Cottonwood Island Park

36330896_10155247866302003_9080002790108954624_nOne of Elmer Gunderson's Carvings at Cottonwood Island Park (via Facebook/Chuck-Susan Chin).

Why not explore Cottonwood Island Nature Park's winding trails along the river. This is a local favourite and provides views of the historical vertical-lift rail bridge. You can also spend time looking for the faces in the trees as you walk along the rivers.

How to get there: Follow Highway 16 east to the foot of the Yellow Head Bridge on the east side of town. To the left, before the bridge is River Road heading north. Follow River Road to find multiple access point to the park, which will be on your right hand side.

LC Gunn Park

12593924_1094330100631738_7578946232024379145_oView from LC Gunn Trail. (via Facebook/Christian Buzzi)

LC Gunn Park is an easy grade walkway exploring the bluffs above the Fraser River. The forested 3.5-km trail follows the same route traveled by the early surveyors when planning out the railway line for the railroad companies.

How to get there: Follow Highway 16 to the foot of the Yellowhead Bridge on the east side of Prince George. On the east side of the bridge take a right onto Guay Road from the highway. Follow the road to some gates. Take a right at the gates onto a gravel road and continue driving until the trailhead appears on your right.

Ferguson Lake

Ferguson Lake ParkFerguson Lake Park in Prince George (via Hanna Petersen)

Ferguson Lake Nature Reserve has a unique trail system that is suspended on a plank walkway over the lake. This feature gives visitors a great view of the lake it surrounds.

How to get there: Follow signs on Ferguson Lake Road to the Ferguson Lake Nature Reserve parking lot.

Forests for the World

Forests for the World icy lake coldIce-covered lake along Forests for the World hiking trail (via Kyle Balzer)

Forests for the World is a 106-hectare demonstration forest with 15 km of hiking. The main trail to Shane Lake is very well maintained and frequently travelled. At Shane Lake there are many amenities to ensure a good time. There are picnic tables, a picnic shelter, a BBQ pit, fire pits, pit toilets, a viewing platform and two fishing docks.

How to get there: From Highway 97, head east on 15 Avenue. Continue driving until 15 Avenue hits Foothills Blvd and University Way. Follow Foothills Blvd. Take a left on Cranbrook Hill Road. At Kueng Road take another left and continue driving to the parking lot at the end of the road.

Eskers Provincial Park

IMG_3089Eskers Provincial Park in summer. (via Hanna Petersen)

One of the best places to check out for hiking in Prince George is Eskers Provincial Park. Its numerous lakes and several trail options make the park a favourite for hiking. The trails are well defined and include a 3-km loop trail around Pine Marsh and a longer 6-km trail to Kathie Lake. Eskers, which are landforms created from the meltwater of ancient glaciers, give this park its name and are a unique feature of the area.

How to get there: Eskers Provincial Park is located 40 km northwest of Prince George. Turn west off Highway 97 north onto Chief Lake Road. Continue west for 27 km (at km 12 Chief Lake Road turns into Ness Lake Road). At the west end of Ness Lake turn north onto Ness Lake Road North. Follow this road for 1 km to the Eskers Provincial Park entrance.

Fort George Canyon

1235090_10151642066836883_862183351_n_f500x333_1464551725Fort George Canyon. (via Tourism Prince George)

Fort George Canyon Trail (4.8 km) is a significant historical area and provides great views of the Fraser River.

How to get there: Tourism Prince George explains, when travelling west from Prince George on Highway 16, and turn left onto Blackwater Road, then left again on West Lake Road. Travel past West Lake Provincial Park and the road eventually turns to gravel. Stay right at the first split and then make another left at the "Fort George Canyon Trails" sign. Follow the access road for approximately 2 km to the parking lot.

Moore’s Meadow

IMG_4205Moore's Meadow in summer. (via Hanna Petersen)

The meadow contains a network of four trails, spanning 5 km, that circle a large glacial kettle created during the ice age. The trails include the Mary, Fallis, Ridge, Kettle and East trails. This unique feature makes Moore’s Meadow a natural getaway within city limits.

How to get there: From Foothills Boulevard and University Way follow Foothills Boulevard to the Moore's Meadow parking lot on the right.

Goodsir Nature Park

IMG_3414Goodsir Nature Park. (via Hanna Petersen)

Goodsir Nature Park is open under strict COVID-19 conditions with both museums being closed. Located on private property, Goodsir Nature Park is the labour of love of owner Jim Goode. This truly unique Canadian botanical garden is the place to explore and learn about fall foliage. The park hosts over 200 different kinds of trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Goode has also labelled the various types of vegetation with interpretive signs throughout the park, which makes not only a beautiful hike but an informative one, too.

How to get there: Drive north on Highway 97. Take a left after the bridge in Salmon Valley and follow along – the park is located at 22825 Old Summit Lake Rd. and it will be on your left.

Wilson Park

Wilson-5A-trail-going-eastWilson Park in Prince George. (via Contributed)

Wilson Park is a great place to take your dog on a scenic, peaceful walk. The trails are easy to navigate and it’s easy to get to as it’s within city limits.

How to get there: Wilson Park is located off of Ospika Boulevard North and runs alongside the Nechako River in Prince George.

Some provincial parks have been closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In northern B.C., the Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut Provincial Park, located more than 100 km east of Prince George, is one of 13 parks announced as fully closed by the provincial government today on March 24.

The closure includes all its trails and parking lot.

More parks may be closed in the future on a case-by-case basis. 

A full list of the closed parks in the province can be found here.