Topley is located 30 km (19 miles) east of Houston
and 51 km (32 miles) west of Burns Lake
on Yellowhead Hwy 16.
A businessman named W.C. Lett founded the small settlement just
after the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway completed the route through
Topley on the way to the Pacific Ocean at Prince
Rupert in 1914. W.C. Lett named the community after his father-in-law,
W.F. Topley, a famous Canadian photographer from Ottawa, Ontario.
Unfortunately, W.F. Topley passed away in 1930 and was unable to
photograph and visit the settlement.
Most of the businesses and local activity found in Topley is located
on Hwy 16 going through town. Here you can find a popular place
to eat at the Country Grill. There is also a small store on Hwy
16 called Grizzly Jim's General Store which also serves pizza, soft
ice-cream cones, subs, free coffee, fishing tackle and bait. There
is also an elementary school in Topley with the surrounding area
having a population of around five hundred people.
The area is well-known for fantastic outdoor recreational activities
focussed on fishing, hunting and enjoying the wilderness which surrounds
the community. The region is full of wildlife with vast tracks of
land situated in forested valleys.
Located just north of Topley on Hwy 118 (Topley Landing Road) is
Babine Lake, the longest natural lake in British Columbia. Babine
Lake is very remote, clean and offers endless angling opportunities
throughout the entire length of about 117 km (110 miles) for Sockeye
salmon, Kokanee, Char and Rainbow trout. Places to visit include
Topley Landing Provincial Park where you can find a nice sandy beach
along the water's edge.
Also located on the shores of Babine Lake is the small retirement
community of Granisle, only 49 km (31
miles) from Topley. Granisle offers some services including accommodation
at the Granisle Resort, some lodges, a small museum at the Tourist
Info Centre and where you can find local information especially
regarding fishing hot spots on Babine Lake.
Bluff Provincial Park
Just east of Granisle, about 44 km (27.5 miles) from Topley is Red
Bluff Provincial Park where there is a boat launch for entering
Babine Lake. Red Bluff Provincial Park offers 27 vehicle-accessible
campsites in a very private setting on a first-come, first-served
basis. The park also features beautiful picnic sites next to Babine
Lake plus the 5 km (3 miles) loop circuit called the Red Bluff Trail
that features some wildlife viewing opportunities especially along
the marshes next to the lake.
Another local favourite recreation area close to Topley is popular
Sunset Lake located just to the south-west with easy access from
Hwy 16. Here you can find a rustic campground that features 10 campsites.
Sunset Lake also has swimming, beach area, boat launch, dock, wheelchair-accessible
toilets plus some wildlife viewing opportunities.
Elwin and Day Lakes
Three other lakes Swans, Elwin and Day are situated just south of
Sunset Lake on the forest service road. All three can offer you
more fishing opportunities for Char, Cutthroat and small- to medium-sized
Rainbow trout with fewer crowds going after the fish. Only car-top
style boats can be used as there are no boat launches available.
China Nose Mountain, elevation 1,439 metres (4,721 feet) visually
stands out travelling along Hwy 16 and is located directly south
of Topley. There is a rough forestry road up China Nose that travels
past Day Lake to the Maxan Creek Road. You then take the Maxan Creek
Road to near Crow Creek where there is a rough switchback road.
There is also a steep hiking trail that follows the ridge along
China Nose Mountain with an incredible panoramic vista overlooking
Old Man Lake to the west. The trail will take about two hours or
more depending on each individual's fitness level and hiking ability.
The trail is very remote so let someone know where you are and watch
out for bears.
Creek Forest Service Road
To get to another trailhead for going up China Nose Mountain, take
Mckilligan Road off Hwy 16 just 10 km (6 miles) east of Houston;
you then travel past the landfill site on the Heading Creek FSR
to the 12 km (7.5 miles) yellow marker. From here take the immediate
left down a hill, over a wooden bridge, up a hill and look for a
blue trailhead marker on a post past an old clear-cut that is now
For people who love wildlife viewing, the Topley area offers great
potential especially for bald eagles, black bears and mountain goats.
Please remember though to practice safely when experiencing bear
and other wildlife encounters in the outdoors around Topley and
the rest of British Columbia.