On a hot and sunny June weekend in 2015, we made our way north of Clinton BC to spend a couple of nights camping, canoeing, and fishing at Big Bar Lake Provincial Park. I had spent a night there on a previous trip while heading for Mount Kerr but that was a quick overnight stop with little time to actually enjoy the park. This time we had two nights planned to check out the park along with a day trip over to the southern part of the Marble Range for a hike up to Lime Ridge. The Marble Range and its associated areas are known for the unique karst limestone formations so we certainly wanted to check them out. We had decided that we would use the Porcupine Creek Canyon Trail to reach the upper areas.
It was about an hour drive from the campground to the trailhead. There is a trailhead marker just off of Jesmond Road but we were using the directions provided by a Gold Country Geocache to get right up to the trail rather than having to walk five kilometers up a road. The road to the trail was rough but easily passable for any high clearance vehicle this time of year. We figure a car could make it up there most of the time if a driver was careful.
We did feel sorry for the four people we passed along the road who elected to walk rather than drive to the trail, thus adding ten extra kilometers to their hike along a rather boring road. If you can make the drive, do it.
Once at the trailhead, we grabbed the geocache, laced up our boots, and headed on our way up the trail. It was a pretty warm day with high humidity so we soon found ourselves sweating quite a lot. That said, the first few kilometers are not very steep as we wound our way up the canyon. Generally there isn’t much to see at this point, although we could occasionally see the limestone formations high above through breaks in the trees.
After an hour or so of hiking, we reached an area that had been widely burned in a forest fire. This is also where the trail begins to switchback to the alpine and becomes quite a bit steeper. The first views of the surrounding peaks start at this point as we could see them through the barren forest on this part of the trail.
After another kilometer or so, we found ourselves approaching the top of the ridge with its sub-alpine forest and wide vistas. At this point, the trail became a bit harder to spot and we found ourselves on and off the trail for the next while as we headed north along Porcupine Ridge to Lime Ridge. But it wasn’t very hard going as long as we watched our footing on the uneven ground. We could see the many signs of the forest fires that burned through here in the previous years.
It was warm up here and extremely buggy, with legions of mosquitoes buzzing around us. On the east side of the ridge, there was no wind, so we were getting the full exposure of the sun as well. The many wonderful sights and limestone formations, though, made it all worthwhile.
It wasn’t long before we reached the alpine meadows of this part of the ridge where it was surprisingly flat. There were no flowers to be seen, only grass, moss, and lichen along its length. Perhaps flowers come later in the season being that June is still pretty early in the alpine. It was quite clear with only a little smoke in the air and we would see a long ways off to the various mountain ranges around us. We could make out the Dunn Range and the Trophies to the east, and the Lillooet and Coastal Ranges to the west. Nearer to us, Wild Horse Ridge and Mount Kerr were just to the north.
The meadows gently rolled here and we moved along at a fairly quick pace. It was remarkably barren here with only the occasional sinkhole along the way to avoid.
We came to a saddle in the ridge where we descended for a bit until the climb back up on the northern side. We would guess that this is where Porcupine Ridge ends and Lime Ridge starts as this section on maps is labelled Lime Ridge North.
Making our way up the north side of the saddle, we began to see more of the peaks on the northern end of the range. We could now make out the top of Mad Dog Peak as well as Mount Bowman to the north of the ridge. From here, we picked a high point ahead and made our way towards it.
It was a quick scramble to the highest point around and we found ourselves enjoying unrestricted views in all directions. After a quick look for a nearby geocache, we sat back to have some lunch on the top, basking in the late spring sunshine. It was a fine place for a break as even the bugs seemed to have gone away for the time being. From here, one could continue to the north and complete the entire ridge if desired, or do a through hike and drop down the Lime Ridge Trail into the valley if there is a vehicle waiting. Kamloops Trails has a description of the Lime Ridge West Trail with directions on reaching that trail.
We had brought along a geocache to hide while we were up here so after lunch, we proceeded over to another high point to the south of us to find a place to leave it. Once that was done, we began to make our way back. The heat and bugs continued to assault us for most of our way down.
As before, we were on and off the trail depending on how distinct it was. When we approached the area where we would begin to descend back to the valley below, we came across a plaque attached to a rock marking the life of someone whom we expect was a great supporter and user of this area. If anyone has information about the person, please feel free to comment or send a message to us.
Once back in the trees, it took us about an hour to make our way back to our vehicle. It was a warm hike being that it was late in the day but we still had water at this point. We had expected to need extra water and both of us had brought along an extra bottle in addition to our pack hydration. For anyone doing this hike in the warmer months, we would definitely recommend bringing along extra water as there is none to be found once you are up in the alpine. There was some remaining snow at this time of the year but later on, it would be a hot and dry hike, particularly if you run out of water.
All said, the total distance we hiked was about 16 kms with about 700 meters of elevation gain from the parking area to the highest point.
We really enjoyed this trail as we were rewarded with some fantastic views all around us throughout most of the hike, especially since we had such a clear day. This early in the season, though, did make for a lot of bugs, so we expect that this would be a great hike to do later in September or October when the bugs are gone. And as we have pointed out, bring lots of water along as well as good head protection. It’s a really dry and exposed area and sunburn and heat stroke are definitely a possibility.
This is certainly a hike that we would recommend for anyone looking for quick access to the alpine for a day of great hiking.
GPS track and map
Max elevation: 2212 m
Min elevation: 1497 m
I am one of the founders of campingcanucks.com. I was lucky enough to grow up in Golden, British Columbia and have been camping, backpacking, and skiing pretty well all my life. I started climbing a few years ago which has opened up even more backcountry and alpine opportunities.
These days, I’m a systems administrator by day and a SAR volunteer operating as a ground search team leader, rope rescue member, swiftwater rescue member, and avalanche response team leader with Kamloops Search and Rescue.