The Whipsaw Creek Jeep Trail is a 68-mile adventure packed with plenty of obstacles to flex, twist, and get your Jeep dirty. Located in the Canadian province of British Columbia and roughly four hours east of Vancouver, the Whipsaw is a Jeeper’s playground. The amazing landscape offers challenging trails, crystal alpine lakes, and dramatic elevation changes.
Fort TrailThe Whipsaw Trail was originally blazed in 1849 to connect Fort Hope and Fort Kamloops—it was at one the time the route used by The Hudson Bay Company to travel between these two forts. In the 1970s, the Whipsaw became a recreation route. A number of local groups in the area help maintain it, and each year after winter fallen trees that block the trail are cut up with chainsaws.
Last GasThe Whipsaw can be run from either end, but most people start near the quaint town of Coalmont. We found it more challenging to run the trail the other direction, and started just a few miles outside of Princeton. Princeton has a few hotels, restaurants, a coffee shop, and a pub for late-night libations. It is extremely important to get fuel in town. No gas stations exist between the ends of the Whipsaw, and although it’s not a long trail, it’s 68 miles of hard work for a vehicle. While we carried extra fuel, our Jeep Rubicon only burned through a little over half a tank.
TrailheadOnce off the pavement, we made pretty good time traveling the 22 “klicks” of graded logging road leading to the actual trailhead. The end of the logging road is marked by an old prospector’s cabin that was used for boarding horses. This is where the fun really begins. The trail becomes narrower and begins to climb. Several ascents and descents finally bring you to its highest point at 6,200 feet.
Several sections challenged our Jeep with rocky hillclimbs. Many obstacles had bypass roads, but using them took away the fun of wheeling. There are creek crossings and mud holes to play in. We had to stop at several of the picturesque lakes to take in the amazing scenery Canada has to offer. If only we had brought our canoe.
As the trail wound deeper into Canada’s backcountry it became more technical, with bigger rock sections to flex and twist our Jeep on and tighter technical turns. After a good eight-hour-day drive, we reached the halfway point on the trail at Wells Lake. We spent the night there to rest up for the second day of adventure.
The following morning, the trail beckoned and became even more technical. There were a few spots where we had to fold our mirrors in to pass through the trees. Remnants of old wrecked vehicles were spotted all along the way. We encountered many steep hillclimbs that second day, but it was not a problem for our very capable JKU Rubicon, even if it was loaded down with everything—including the kitchen sink!
The KitchenOne of the advantages of traveling with a guy who builds custom kitchens for Jeeps: the simple, yet refreshing meals on the trail. Our first night camping by the lake, we grilled up steaks and veggies. While we didn’t encounter any bears, I am quite sure they smelled our delicious dinner. On day two we pulled just off the main trail, deployed the kitchen, and within a matter of minutes started grilling fresh salmon and bell peppers. It’s easy to get spoiled Jeepin’ like this. The next time my trail buddies open a box of plain, dry trail snacks I might look at them a little funny.
RecommendationsFour-wheel drive is obviously a must for the Whipsaw, but a near-stock Jeep with an experienced driver is more than capable of completing most of the obstacles. Just be sure you have some help from your friends if you get stuck. A winch is a must-have. We also recommended good off-road tires and a spare. There are plenty of spots where shop rocks can ruin your day.
The best time to run the Whipsaw is in mid-August (like we did) when most of the bugs are gone, but bring the repellent just in case—some were still lingering around. If you want the adventure of a lifetime, you can run the Whipsaw trail in the middle of winter when the place is covered in snow and the temperatures hover around freezing. You will have to bring your chainsaw to cut through fallen trees blocking your path. This trail offers some amazing views and challenging terrain, so prep that Jeep, charge up the camera batteries, and clear those media cards. You don’t want to miss any of the action.