Explore the Othello Tunnels Trail

Last week, after we drove the Fraser Canyon Highway tunnels and explored the Hell’s Gate Airtram, we continued up the TransCanada Highway to hike the Othello Tunnels Trail. My husband likes road trips and he’d had a lot of fun planning this “trains and tunnels” trip.

After the driving of the day, the girls were excited to get out of the truck and head down the trail. Jade decided to be our fearless leader, as usual:

Toddler running down the Othello Tunnels trail

Because the trail follows an old railway, it is wide and flat. A sign at the beginning of the trail explained the history of this area (including the fascinating details of how on earth the engineers built a railroad along this section of the river!). Now, it’s a popular trail that connects with other trails in the Hope area. I tried to grab pictures when there weren’t many other people on the trails, but that was hard to do!

Nicolum River from the Othello Tunnels trail

The trail follows beside the Nicolum River, which winds through rocky canyons and between sandy riverbanks. The first tunnel is only a few minutes down the trail. There were fences at various points along the trail to ensure hikers’ safety. While the tunnels aren’t very long, flashlights were recommended for the hike and several other hikers had come prepared.

The first Othello Tunnel

The girls had a lot of fun running through the tunnel. The tunnels are carved from solid rock, so it was awe-inspiring to look up and imagine the men who worked here years ago—or the trains that thundered through. From inside the first tunnel, we could see ahead to the next two tunnels:

Othello Tunnels

There were a couple bridges along the trail as well. It’s no wonder the first few surveyors looked at this part of the river and said there was no way they’d ever get a train through!  Rocks towered over us as we looked nearly straight up at them; on the other side of the tunnel, the rocks dropped away sharply to the river far below, which tumbled and splashed over the rocks.

Girls running across the Othello Tunnels bridge

One of the tunnels, instead of being rough-carved rock over us, made me think of a Roman coliseum with its curved concrete roof and pillars on the right to give us a view of the river. After the fifth tunnel, the trail continued winding through the woods.

Last Othello Tunnel

There were flowers blooming beside the trail and at one point, the sunlight shone through the mossy trees bending over the trail. The girls ran ahead, eager to find what was around the next bend, or walked together holding hands. We passed fewer people on this section of the trail; most had come just for the tunnels, except for a few cyclists or joggers who were going further.

We turned around when we reached the gate, after chatting with another couple who’d walked further. Back at the trail head, we studied the map, curious where the other trails go. It looks like some work has been done on the trails recently (including replacing one of the bridges) to make them more accessible for hikers.

Then we grabbed our picnic supper from the truck and ate our sandwiches at the tables near the parking lot. We had a lovely view of the mountains around Hope. Then we drove back to Vancouver to put the girls to bed.

Kid-friendly: Yes. The girls loved the scenery along the way and there were fences along the trail so there were no steep cliffs or drop-offs.

Baby-friendly: Yes. The trails are wide and flat, and would be accessible for a jogging stroller or any stroller with larger wheels. We saw several other families with babies in carriers as well. There are outhouses at the trail head but no change tables.

If you’re interested in this hike or have done it, you may like these family-friendly hikes around greater Vancouver as well.

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