Into the darkness we go!!!
The Othello Tunnels consist of five old train tunnels and a series of bridges that cut through solid granite walls and pass over the wild Coquihalla River. There are spectacular viewing opportunities available on the trail, as you meander in and out of the darkened tunnels.
In the early 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided a route was necessary to link the Kootenay Region with the BC coast by rail. The railway was built over three mountain ranges. In the Coquihalla Gorge, a straight line of tunnels were built through it, which are known now as the Othello Tunnels.
While walking along the trail, it becomes quite evident how much of a challenge it must have been to build a railway through this area. The sheer magnificent granite cliffs that tower 3000 feet, the violent rushing turquoise waters below, and the utter remoteness make it seem incredible that any infrastructure could be built in such an environment. Especially, when construction of this project was over 100-years ago with limited engineering equipment.
Even though the tunnels are an engineering marvel, they do have quite a dark history behind them. The most difficult and dangerous construction jobs were usually given to Chinese labourers to do. Many were unfortunately killed using explosives to blast through sections of the mountains.
The engineer of this railroad, Andrew McCullough was an avid reader of Shakespearean literature. He used character names such as Lear, Jessica, Portia, Iago, Romeo & Juliet to name the stations of the Coquihalla subdivision. The tunnels in the Coquihalla Canyon were near the Othello station, hence the name Othello Tunnels.
The Othello Tunnels are located just outside Hope, BC, in the Coquihalla Provincial Park. Definitely a very interesting photographic find, on our way from the interior of British Columbia back to Vancouver.
Quick Trail Information:
- Closed during the winter months due to unstable conditions, falling rocks and ice.
- Longer loop trail through a forest if you continue on path after the 5th tunnel. Many people just turn around and go back through the tunnels.
Driving Directions: Follow Highway #5 (Coquihalla) north from Hope. Take the Othello Road Exit (#183), crossing underneath the highway and reaching a three-way stop sign. Turn left at the stop sign and follow Othello Road for approximately three kilometers. Immediately before the road starts climbing uphill, turn left on to Tunnels Road and follow it to the entrance of Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.
Trail Length: 2.5km (to the end of the 5th tunnel & return)
Time: Approximately 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy - Family Friendly & Dog Friendly (On Leash)
Caution: Some of the tunnel can be quite dark, with uneven footing at times. A headlamp is a great idea for those hesitant of walking in the dark.
DON'T FORGET TO PIN THIS FOR INSPIRATION LATER!