- Difficulty Intermediate
- Time 3.5 hours
- Round-Trip 4.5km
- Elevation Gain 475 meters
- Season April - October
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Public Transit No
- Dog Friendly Yes
Located in the town of Yale, BC, the Spirit Caves Trail is a steep hike that leads to an incredible viewpoint looking down at the Fraser River. Beyond the viewpoint are some small caves amongst large rocks, however it's the main attraction for many on this trail.
The hike begins from the side of the Trans Canada Highway, by a wooden sign marking the trailhead. Follow the trail into the forest as it immediately climbs and then makes its way onto a wooden stairway. A short distance further and the trail crosses a creek before ascending steeply and rounding another section to a second creek crossing. A few minutes further and there is a viewpoint on the right but having only gained a bit of elevation so far, the better view will be further up the trail.
Continue hiking as the trail begins to ascend quickly through a series of switchbacks. During the summer months, be careful as the dry dirt can be quite slippery and cause you to slide on the loose dirt. Continue to hike uphill as the trail offers some glimpses to the right of the Fraser River.
The route eventually begins to flatten as you make your way alongside the mountain on a very narrow section of trail. It's not easy to pass other hikers along this section of trail, so you will have to stop and find a way to sidestep each other, being mindful of the steep slope downward to your right.
When the trail turns to the left, this is the first switchback in a series of them where the hike climbs steeply again. Continue making your way through the switchbacks as you quickly gain elevation.
Eventually, the trail reaches the viewpoint next to two wooden benches. The spectacular as view looks down towards the Fraser River as it moves through a bend downstream and away from the town of Yale.
For most hikers, the viewpoint is a good place to end their hike as the small caves are not too spectacular. For those wanting to see the caves, they are about another 10-minutes uphill, following the well worn path from the viewpoint. Watch for a large set of rocks on your left where the first cave can be seen from the distance. The second cave is close to the main trail but also is easy to miss if you are not looking for it by the rocks.
A small trail goes off to the left and it's worth following it up onto the rocks to look for other caves and to see a viewpoint of the nearby mountains.
After seeing the caves and the viewpoint, begin your trek back downhill as you quickly descend. Be careful of your steps and that you don't slide as you make your way through the steep switchbacks. The sound of the creek can be heard as you get closer to the bottom. After walking back down the wooden stairs and hiking a bit further, you arrive back at the trailhead next to the highway.