Written by Michael Chang
The Othello Tunnels are a series of old train tunnels and bridges that cut through the solid granite walls and pass over the wild Coquihalla River. They are located just east of the town of Hope, BC, in the Coquihalla Provincial Park.
In the early 1900’s, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to connect the southern coast of British Columbia with the Kootenays and it was determined the best option was a route through the Coquihalla Gorge. Today, the route no longer has railway tracks and has been restored as part of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, a popular cycling route that follows the old train routes over trestles and through tunnels and is noted for it’s gradual change in elevation.
The Coast Mountain Range proved quite a challenge to build a railway through and walking over the bridges in the Othello Tunnels area, it becomes quite evident how difficult it must have been. The sheer rock cliffs, the violently rushing water below, and the remoteness makes it seem incredible that any infrastructure could be built in such an environment, let alone over 100-years ago with limited engineering equipment.
The Othello Tunnels trail is a short, easy 3.5km return trail that passes through several tunnels and over the rushing river below. It’s the perfect hike for a family and is a great place to make a stop driving from Vancouver to the interior as it’s about a 10 minute drive off of the Coquihalla Highway. Once you have walked through the final tunnel, the trail continues for quite a distance towards the town of Hope, however very few people continue along the trail as the point of interest is really the tunnels.
Due to it’s rugged look, the park has made several appearances in popular films over the years. The most notable was Rambo First Blood where the cliff above Tunnel #2 was used in the spectacular cliff jump scene. Other movies that filmed scenes around Othello Tunnels include Fire With Fire, The Adventures of Yellow Dog, and Shoot To Kill.
The easiest route to drive to the Othello Tunnels is to take Exit #183 Othello Road from the Coquihalla Highway. The turnoff is located about 6km east of the junction to the Crowsnest Highway (Highway #3) along Coquihalla Highway (Highway #5).
Once you have turned off the highway, the road follows underneath the highway and continues along Othello Road westbound, back towards Hope. Follow this road for about 3km and watch for signs to Coquihalla Provincial Park that point to the left onto Tunnel Road. Drive into the park and park in the designated parking lot.
View Othello Tunnels in a larger map
Maps and More Information
BC Parks maintains the area around Othello Tunnels and has lots of information on their website, including maps, restrictions, and details on park amenities. Here are some useful direct links:
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