The Bridge River Valley
The Upper Bridge River Valley communities include Gold Bridge, Bralorne, Gun Lake, Tyaughton Lake, Gun Creek Road and Marshall Lake. Gold Bridge is the central location with a small Post Office, Library, General Store, Hotel and the Gold Bridge Community School. Population is approx 250 year-round residents.
Nestled between the rugged Coast Mountains and the Fraser River to the east, the valley sits in a rain shadow area that is typically drier than the coast. The rocky western section spills out of ancient glaciers from the Lillooet Icefield and gradually transforms into the grassland meadows and plateau zones the Chilcotin region is famous for. It’s a geologically unique area with many different types of rock in all shapes and sizes in a rainbow of different colours.
In the late 1800’s prospector’s discovered the Bridge River Valley and all it’s geological wonder and a gold rush soon started. During the years of 1933-1941 population was in the thousands and the area was booming. The last big mine in Bralorne closed it’s doors in 1971 and settlements like Bradian became ghost towns. Over 4 million ounces of gold was produced from the valley. Bralorne Mine is operational once again and the mine is milling gold and employs 50 people. Ranchers and outfitters soon followed the gold rush. Cattle and horses were in high demand. The infamous Gang Ranch, at one time the biggest ranch in North America, is located to the NE and has grazed cattle in the South Chilcotin for over a century. There are cabins and cow camps located in lush meadows all throughout the many valleys.
The area is home to an abundance of wild life including big horn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly & black bears, cougar, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, wolf, coyote, deer, moose, beaver, loons, eagles, owls, herons, hummingbirds & 100’s of other species. First Nations’s people were the first to discover this paradise and have used it for generations. Historical Graveyard Valley was the site of tribal wars between Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin) and St’at’imc (Lillooet) people over 200 years ago.
Today the region is famous for this amazing network of trails the first settlers left behind. Hikers, Mountain Bikers, Horseback Riders & Motor Bikes share the singletrack trails. Through spectacular wild-flower filled meadows, along pristine alpine lakes and over high rocky mountain passes, some of the best trails in the world were left for us to enjoy by the early settlers. Conservationists have worked hard to protect this unique wilderness since the 1930’s and two protected area’s have been designated –South Chilcotin Provincial Park and Big Creek Provincial Park to the north. Local residents and commercial operators help keep the trails open and many hours of hard volunteer work go into maintaining them for everyone to enjoy. Endless trails for you to enjoy in this wonderland!