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The inland temperate rainforest of British Columbia is the only temperate rainforest that is found away so far away from the coast anywhere in the world.

In this inland temperate rainforest, you will find massive old-growth Western Red Cedars, Western Hemlock and Douglas Firs growing 400-600 kilometres from the ocean in the interior of British Columbia. The Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR) ecosystem covers 40 million acres and stretches over 1,100 kilometres in a broad arc from Prince George, British Columbia to central Idaho in the United States.

The giant trees and lush forests of the inland temperate rainforest are a unique rainforest ecosystem, which is dominated primarily by winter snowfall rather than rainfall like on the coast.  These forests contain many species that are new to science and they are notable for their amazing diversity of rare plants, animals and fungi.

One of the best places to explore the old-growth rainforests of this region is in the Upper Colombia Basin, which is the headwaters of the Colombia River, the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest.

Where To Hike In The Inland Rainforest of B.C.

While the coastal rainforests of British Columbia are better known, the inland temperate rainforests may actually have more intact old-growth forests tucked away in the rugged mountains of the Columbia, Selkirk, Monashees Purcells And Caribou Mountains that are just west of the Rocky Mountains.

The best and most accessible places to hike in the temperate inland rainforests are Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park which surround the town of Revelstoke.

Hiking tours in these old-growth cathedrals of nature could be their saving grace as their long-term ecotourism value likely significantly exceeds their value as clearcut logs in the forestry industry.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has fought hard to preserve the spectacular Incomappleux Valley that is south of Revelstoke. Filmed on location deep in the heart of BC’s Selkirk Mountains, this 20-minute documentary tells the story of the majesty, magic and endurance of one of the world’s last truly intact temperate rainforests – the incomparable Incomappleux.

In Incomappleux Valley, you will find 2,000-year-old ancient trees, rare lichens, unique mushrooms and a rare species of endangered mountain caribou. Right now there is a proposed plan to preserve a 1564 square kilometre area surrounding the valley through a new Provincial or National Park, tentatively called the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal.

If you want to go hiking in the Incomappleux Valley, it is currently not accessible without hiring a local hiking guide with a 4×4 vehicle but it may open up to more hikers in the future.

Saving B.C.’s Inland Temperate Rainforest

Walking Among Giants is an awe-inspiring short documentary film made with veteran conservationist Craig Pettitt of the Valhalla Wilderness Society about the urgency of protecting this magical place.

Sadly, the pace of clear-cutting in the inland temperate rainforest of British Columbia is comparable to logging in Brazil’s tropical rainforests. Very few untouched valleys of ancient old-growth forests remain and many of them are under threat as you read this.

This is an ongoing national tragedy in Canada as both the federal and provincial governments have been slow to stop ancient old-growth logging. The B.C. government calls the inland temperate rainforests a “rare and hidden treasure” in promotional materials, yet only small patches are currently protected.

Hopefully, the value of these trees standing for ecotourism and attracting some of the hikers who come from all over the world to Banff National Park and the other UNESCO Rocky Mountain National Parks is enough to convince politicians to save them from clearcutting.

Kyle Pearce

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