Trip Report – Sledding in Bralorne, BC | Mountain Sledder
The town of Bralorne, BC exists because it sits on top of gold. Lots and lots of gold. A motherlode of gold has already been pulled out of the ground. And it’s thought that even more lies deep beneath the area’s forested slopes. But in the last twenty years another treasure has been bringing people to Bralorne. White gold. Snow. Powder. The sledding in Bralorne is a precious commodity.
by Jonathan Schramm
Trip Report – Sledding in Bralorne, BC
The town has gone through boom and bust following the natural cycles of gold based economies. Not too long ago Bralorne was a proverbial ghost town. When sledding out of town, the remains of once very meaningful structures can be seen here and there, listing at varied angles. They sit warped from decades of huge snow loads, some wearing the weathered skin of old peeling paint and others with deeply textured wood. What’s left of these structures is losing ground to the dense evergreen canopy that will eventually engulf them for good.
Bralorne is a classic B.C. mining town where one swears they can still hear the sounds of industry pounding away. Even though there is nothing more in front of you than a half fallen down building and a wind ruffling through the branches of the surrounding firs and spruces.
With a year-round population of 60 (and 29 dogs), Bralorne sits 3,350 feet above sea level. It is bordered by the Coast to the south, the Bendor Ranges to the east and the South Chilcotin Mountains to the north. All of nearby zones feature top-notch terrain and endlessly connecting gateways, mostly via mega ice caps to zone after zone, all in a big mountain setting. The tallest peaks in the area are just under 10,000 feet with the majority of the prime sledding and shredding terrain sitting between 6500-8500 feet.
By vehicle Bralorne is 112 kilometres west of Lillooet. The majority of the drive is on the always interesting Highway 40. Keep your wits about you on this road.
Two Ways to Get to Bralorne
In the summer it takes two hours to drive to Bralorne from Whistler on a route that takes you west up through the Pemberton Meadows and then north over 65km of gravel that is the Hurley River Forest Service Road. In the winter the ‘Hurley,’ as it’s most commonly referred to, is not cleared of snow and basically sees only snowmobile traffic until it’s ploughed through for vehicle traffic again, typically in late May. Sledding across the Hurley to get to Bralorne is a great option because the pass opens the doors to a multitude of good sledding drainages along the way. But most of all because Bralorne is a sled friendly town. Regardless of how you get to Bralorne, once there, you park your truck and use your sled exclusively for travel.
Sled from the Mines Motel to The MineShaft Pub for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is also the location of the only fuel pump in town, stocking only Premium Gas.
Sled right out of town to the north towards Kingdom Lake, to the east towards the Cadwallader drainage and south to the Hurley and its vast network of zones with Lone Goat being a must visit.
Trip to Bralorne via Highway 40
Our trip to Bralorne was amazing. We had a great drive over the Duffy Lake Road from Pemberton in our two pack of Toyota Tundras. Highway 40 was in fine form with only a few loose rocks to deal with. Once set up in Bralorne at the Mines Motel, it was sweet to just jump on your sleds in the parking lot and ride from there every day. We had fun pounding away on the forest service roads leading to the different zones we rode.
Sledding in Bralorne, BC
Dan’s knowledge of the area is second to none, he can peel apart a zone layer by layer the deeper you go, all with first hand experience. The first day saw us head up towards the Noel riding zone just out of Bralorne.
However, instead of going to Noel proper, we veered right and Dan broke trail leading us to a hidden gem called the ‘Playground’, much to the delight of a group of locals we hooked up with for the day. They had apparently spent much of the winter working on this goal without success. To be fair, this group of locals were relatively new to sledding and Bralorne, and the Playground is protected by a tight band of forest and a deep creek draw making an easy entrance to the alpine challenging. Even Dan admittedly said he didn’t think he could have followed his first route up to the alpine a second time if he had to.
The next day was ripping bluebird. We headed south down the East Hurley fork, crossed the main Hurley and then headed west towards Lone Goat. With great weather and good travel conditions, Dan lead us deep towards the west well past the Lone Goat cabin to a high ridge looking out on the Bridge Glacier. Truly big terrain.
Trip Report – Sledding in Bralorne, BC
I love Bralorne. It’s a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts to get away from it all for awhile. No cell service. Wifi here and there if you need it. Ride your sled everywhere. In a nutshell, it’s a barely populated sled hub situated at the terminus of Highway 40 and the winter snow route only Hurley River FSR. A gold mining town with close proximity to playgrounds. And a gateway to the big rides on the vast icecaps of the Southern Coast Mountains. Overall, most definitely, a rad zone!