With a rich Indigenous history, natural splendour, and an extensive network of ancient trails to explore, The Village of Hazelton is an excellent spot to add to your road trip map this season.
Divided into New and Old Hazelton, the area was named for the hazel trees that once sprinkled the flats of the ancient Gitksan village of Gitanmaax, which according to The Hazeltons Visitor Centre, was a prominent fishing and trading site at the base of the Rocher Déboulé Range for thousands of years.
Connected by ancient trails to the First Nations on the Skeena and Nass rivers and far inland on Wet’suwet’en territory, Gitanmaax once thrived as a hub as a trading centre, which only became more apparent with the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company and other European traders in the 19th century.
As such, Old Hazelton happens to be one of the oldest communities in northern British Columbia.
View this post on Instagram
One of the town’s enduring relics? The Hagwilget Canyon Bridge, which was originally constructed using wood and wire hundreds of years ago, according to the Visitor Centre. Today, it operates as a single-lane steel suspension bridge along Highway 62, connecting the Village of Hazelton to the District of New Hazelton.
Touring ‘Old Town’
A visit to Old Hazelton transports visitors back to the town’s frontier past, when the gold rush era transitioned to the age of riverboats. The Hazelton Pioneer Museum & Archives is a great place to start, as is the ‘Old Town’ Walking Guide, which details the area’s historic sites and buildings to check out.
Visitors of The Hazeltons can also tour over 50 standing totem poles in seven First Nations villages, including the restored ‘Ksan Historical Village, which also features modernized versions of traditional longhouses.
District of New Hazelton
As for New Hazelton, hikers can take advantage of the scenic New Hazelton Lookout and Waterfall Trail, enjoy towering mountainscapes, and visit a local Farmer’s Market (May to September).
So there you have it, BC! If you want to explore the “historic heartland of Northwestern BC,” you know where to look.
Where: Junction of Bulkley and Skeena Rivers, BC