Colin Carson // Tourism Prince George
While you’re visiting the trails of Prince George, you can also support some local businesses! Here’s a quick guide on some of the most popular parks and trails in PG, with some businesses nearby that are worth a visit.
Cottonwood Island Nature Park
This park has 2.2 kilometers of relatively flat trails. A local favourite, visitors will enjoy the many winding trails along the river and close-up views of the historical CN Rail Bridge that was built in 1914. Keep your eyes peeled for the many unique carvings that are scattered across the cottonwood trees throughout the park. These carvings were done by local resident Elmer Gunderson, who’s work can also be purchased in the Prince George Visitor Centre.
Other amenities at the park include washrooms, a picnic shelters, benches and picnic tables, a canoe launch, and a paved boat launch. Due to the relatively flat trails, a good portion of this park is accessible with a wheelchair, scooter, or stroller. While you’re checking out the park, be sure to visit the Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum. The Museum is an interesting, educational, and fun industrial heritage attraction in a spacious park-like setting where Prince George’s captivating history is revived back to an era when the railway and forestry were the region’s lifeline.
McMillan Creek Regional Park
This park offers a scenic 2.5 kilometer trail system. The trail winds through several ecosystems allowing an opportunity to view various different plant species. A shorter, and much easier, 1 kilometer trail brings you directly to the lookout on the cutbanks.
Facilities include a picnic table, toilets, interpretative signs regarding the geographic history of Prince George and a safe and scenic view of the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk down the cutbanks and take the 700 meter trek on the road to visit the bistro or wine shop at Northern Lights Estate Winery and refuel for your hike back up!
Connaught Hill Park
Connaught Hill offers one of Prince George’s best views! The park is located on top of a hill in the centre of the community. The beautifully landscaped park provides 360 degree views of the community and of the Fraser River. The area is well-known for its groomed lawns and beautiful flower beds. There are lots of tables and benches scattered throughout, which makes it an excellent spot for picnics.
You can pick up all your items needed for your picnic in downtown Prince George. If you want some pre-made sandwiches or groceries, check out Birch and Boar, who specialize in cured meats, hot meal options, and local goods. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, grab a dozen Daydream Donuts to enjoy with a view. There are also plenty of restaurants that offer takeout that are less than a five-minute drive from Connaught Hill Park.
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
This park was renamed in 2015 to recognize the area had once been a Lheidli T’enneh village. The park is quite flat with paved paths therefore it is accommodating for wheelchairs, scooters, or strollers. There is also a spray water park open every day in the summer to help the kids stay cool.
Another great feature in the park is the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park Pavilion. It opened on National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2018. The Pavilion represents a partnership between the City of Prince George and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and features steel beams with ceilings made of Douglas-fir panels.
While you’re at the park, be sure to check out the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre The Exploration Place is a local favourite for children and adults alike. The museum is a place to have fun with science, learn about local history and explore new exhibits. They also offer program and camps for children, as well as a gift shop and venue rental for events. Please note that the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre is currently closed and is looking to re-open in the fall of 2021. Be sure to check out their social media, as they do host online events and one-off in person events.
Ferguson Lake Nature Reserve
Ferguson Lake Nature Reserve is a unique trail system featuring a public fishing dock, historic homesteader cabins and a biodiverse landscape of plants and wildlife. This is a family-friendly fishing lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout. The 2.4 kilometer trail is relatively flat and loops the entirety of the lake. Along the trail, visitors will enjoy the boardwalk suspended across the water, providing beautiful views of the lake.
If you’re heading to Ferguson Lake Nature Reserve from Prince George, you’ll head through The Hart neighborhood and right past the Hart Shopping Centre Mall. The Hart Shopping Centre offers a number of unique, local shops including, Hart Home Essentials, Simply Beautiful Jewelry Design & Clothing, Blissful Bubbles Boutique, and Rustic Rooster Home Décor.
Prince George offers many more trails and parks than what we’ve listed. Next time you head out on a trail, think about including a stop at a local business as part of your trip.
About the author: Colin grew up in Prince George and attended TRU to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration. After graduation, he spent a year in Denmark playing professional volleyball followed by a year working in China before returning to Prince George. He continues to be involved in the community where he grew up. Colin has recently moved into the role of Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Prince George. He ensures the strategic and business goals of the organization are achieved and oversees all staff.