Finding Hidden Gems (and how to keep them that way)

Everyone knows that wow factor feeling you get when you see a beautiful location for the first time. The pristineness and seclusion makes you feel like you might be the first person who has ever stood in that spot. It’s a feeling many of us chase with every adventure we take. With the blooming of social media and especially Instagrams’ surge in popularity its easier than ever to find motivation to go hunting these incredible views. A quick scroll of Instagram or searching a geo tagged location and you’ll find hundreds of photos with a variety of views. Click on the tagged location and you can have the directions on your phone in seconds. Now what about the lesser known spots? How do you find your way into those and how do you keep them that way?


Here in BC we are incredibly fortunate to have an abundance of public land with many road networks allowing access into the backcountry with ease. Spending a weekend cruising down forest service roads (FSR’s) can usually prove fruitful. Often finding these hidden gems or “locals spots” as the people who know their location call them. These are often further off the beaten track, meaning more effort is necessary to get to but the reward of not being around the big crowds is definitely worth it. Backroads mapbooks are a fantastic tool for planning routes through the backcountry of BC. Proving itself in being a vital tool, is also google earth. Using the satellite feature you can scope out areas with lakes or potential viewpoints. Once scoped out see if there is a road that leads close enough you could hike into it. A lot of these style hikes can potentially be a tough bushwhack. Basically blazing your own trail through the forest. This is also a great way to find new water for us that fish. Working that little bit harder than the average population will get you to spots that are rarely fished and the self-gratification in that is hard to describe.

Helicopters are becoming more popular yearly as they are a viable option for getting out to areas with virtually no foot traffic. Its hard to not get drawn in to this idea after trying to go check out one of the famous waterfalls/ hikes in BC and coming face to face with full parking lots and hundreds of people on the trail or blocking the view points. With the options for remote drop offs for camping, mountain biking, fishing, and rafting trips to name a few its hard to not want that feeling of being in pure wilderness. Obviously, a lot of these locations will stay this way as the only access is available via the air. This is great in the sense that as long as you respect the land and leave it as you found it realistically it should never change. Unfortunately, this can’t be said for a lot of the beautiful areas located in the more populated regions of BC.

With the high influx in people visiting these easily found spots the garbage comes in droves. A great example of this is the upper Squamish River valley. When I first began exploring this area in 2010 you could find a camping spot along the river every weekend even on the sunny long weekends it wasn’t a worry. Now a quick search online and you have every spot on the river at your fingertips. I was up there just this past August long weekend and there was not a single spot along the river available. Garbage was littered all along the sides of the 30km long FSR in bags left behind or loosely tossed off to the side. Somewhere that was once pristine has now been “discovered”. Now I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. Obviously the garbage situation sucks but this is now a place people from all over will come to visit and appreciate. These popular areas are vital to our tourism economy and to small business owners all over the province.

Now you’re probably saying with all these online resources available how is it possible to keep a hidden gem the way it is? I can promise, you weren’t the first to find it and you won’t be the last. These beautiful gems are kept this way by word of mouth to trusted friends and kept out of geo tagged posts. Packing out everything you pack in is an easy thing you can do to maintain a place’s beauty. Just like the old days you don’t need to brag to all the online presence about the amazing place you found. Enjoy it with loved ones and friends. Do your part and keep hidden gems hidden!

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