Craft breweries across Northern British Columbia are being welcomed by thirsty locals and travellers alike.
British Columbia is bigger than many countries, extending more than 2,000 km north of the United States border. Most of BC’s residents live “down south” within a few hours of the border, yet the vast interior of the province is dotted with smaller communities that are connected by a well maintained highway system. With majestic scenery and abundant natural beauty, exploring this beautiful region is perfectly suited for those who enjoy epic road trips—especially when the reward at the end of a long day of driving is a craft brewery serving up delicious beer.
From Prince Rupert on the west coast, which is connected to Vancouver Island by the BC Ferries Inside Passage route, across to Valemount in the East near Jasper on the Alberta border, and northeast up to Fort St. John in the Peace Country, there are 12 craft breweries to visit on the Northern BC Ale Trail, each one celebrating local history, geography and culture in its own unique way.
The western leg of the Northern BC Ale Trail begins in Prince Rupert where the nautically themed Wheelhouse Brewing embraces that community’s connection to the ocean. In nearby Terrace, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse’s patio is always packed with folks enjoying that inland community’s abundance of sunshine. Smithers, a few hours east, has two craft breweries, Bulkley Valley Brewery and Smithers Brewing, both of which embrace the region’s many outdoor activities: skiing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing.
Take a side trip south to visit Ursa Minor Brewing, which is based on Little Bear Ranch, a 540-acre cattle farm about 100km south of Burns Lake.
The eastern leg starts in Fort St. John where you can taste the range of beers available at Beard’s Brewing and Mighty Peace Brewing. Then return south to visit Barkerville Brewing on the Gold Rush Trail in Quesnel — the brewery is named for the historic town nearby where you can see what life was like during the Gold Rush. All we can say is it’s definitely better with craft beer!
Next is Fox Mountain Brewing in Williams Lake, a great spot for both food and beer. Finally, head east to Valemount, home of Three Ranges Brewing, a pioneer that helped bring awareness of craft beer to the North and has been slaking the thirst of local residents for several years already.
Northern BC is vast and full of amazing communities to explore. We have split this itinerary into 2 legs, West and East.
Start your adventure on the Western leg in Prince Rupert.
Ferry – from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island (full day ferry through the inside passage, departs on odd days, reservations recommended)
Air – Air Canada flies from Vancouver to Prince Rupert
Home of the ‘Yawn Begone’! A unique coffee shop in the heart of Prince Rupert with great coffee, world famous muffins and delicious lunch.
Whale watching trips and grizzly bear viewing June-October in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, the largest grizzly sanctuary in North America.
Explore historic boardwalks, industrial buildings, residences and wilderness surroundings. Join a tour or explore on your own—experience 125 years of history. Open May to September.
The first 100% ‘Ocean Wise’ sushi restaurant in BC, all local seafood, locally made furniture, locally served craft beer, wine and sake.
At the edge of the world, this craft beer outpost has earned a devoted following thanks to its inventive brews, often made with local ingredients.
Drive to Terrace (1.5 hours)
A fantastic little cafe just south of the city centre with a sunny patio to enjoy. Coffee, tea and a variety of baked goods for morning fare—and tasty bistro style offerings for lunch.
Book at tee time to play at the foot of the majestic Thornhill Mountain just outside of Terrace.
A cozy neighbourhood pub with friendly service, great food, and of course, local pints on tap.
Nestled among snow-capped peaks and raging rivers, Sherwood Mountain is bringing German-style lagers to Northern B.C.
Terrace is home to a vibrant art and music community. Regular exhibitions by talented local artists can be viewed and purchased at the Terrace Art Gallery, the Red Raven Gallery, and local coffee shops and bistros.
Take a tour of the stunning salmon murals that grace the building walls in downtown Terrace, and check out the Freda Diesling School of Indigenous Art at Coast Mountain College and be inspired by the next generation of indigenous artists. Find out more at visitterrace.com.
Drive to Hazelton (1.5 hours)
A boutique off-grid hop farm specializing in fresh aroma hops (and sheep and llamas). Call ahead to arrange a tour to touch, smell and taste a variety of hops while they're on the vine.
Drive to Smithers (45 mins)
When you pull into Smithers head to Two Sisters to fuel up for a big day of big experiences. It's a sustainability-minded cafe that supports local farmers, growers, artisan bakers and more with it's diverse and fresh daily menu.
Home to spring salmon, coho, sockeye, pink salmon, and steelhead, the Bulkley River offers great fishing. Stop by a tackle shop or grab a guide from Frontier Farwest Lodge and cast away an afternoon.
Smithers’ favourite après destination is the perfect place to park it after a long day on the slopes.
Internationally inspired comfort food, local craft beers and more—the Roadhouse is for relaxing, socializing, and celebrating.
Smithers’ newest brewery offers creative beers in a stunning setting.
As you travel from Terrace through Hazelton, drive across the Hagwilget Canyon Bridge—and if you’re not scared of heights, pull over safely and take in the astonishing view. When you’re on route to Smithers, be sure to stop and take in the energy of the Bulkley River being squeezed through the Moricetown Canyon.
Smither’s Hudson Bay Mountain offers four trails for different activity levels and destinations. Wildflowers, waterfalls, or a glacier view—take your pick! Check the Tourism Smithers website for trail maps and wildlife preparedness.
Looking for a local rental shop in Smithers with expertise in fishing, biking and more? McBike and Sport will make sure you’re set up for success.
For more Smithers hotel inspiration visit Tourism Smithers.
Drive to Burns Lake (1.5 hours)
Take the ferry across Francois Lake and explore the wilderness on this 97km drive, winding through small communities of the Burns Lake area. Be prepared for some dirt roads.
This farmland brewery is based on Little Bear Ranch, a 540-acre cattle farm in the Lakes District of Northern BC.
Burns Lake offers ample opportunities for fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. Learn about the rich history of the area at the Lakes District Museum.
Discover the adventure of BC’s Lakes District and travel to the Southside, which involves a free public ferry that crosses François Lake and some dirt roads, so be sure to plan ahead.
Drive to Prince George (3.5 hours) – this route includes a ferry
A fairly extensive trail network, Pidherny offers a range of trail options. Many of these mountain biking trails have structures and jumps to try out.
Founded by friends with a shared love for craft beer, Trench is a community gathering place.
Explore the winding trails along the Nechako River—keep your eyes peeled for the unique carved faces in the Cottonwood trees.
Enjoy a hand-made meal sourced fresh from the Northern Lights' garden and beyond. Their brunch menu is paired with a view of the Nechako River—a treat for all the senses.
CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery is revitalizing Prince George’s downtown with its hip patio, wood-fired pizzas and stellar beer lineup.
Prince George is the last stop on the Western leg of the Northern BC Trail.
Be sure to browse Prince George’s event calendar when you’re in town for live music, markets, walking tours, group hikes and more!
Begin the Eastern leg of the Northern BC Trail.
Travel next to Fort St. John but be sure to fuel up before you go – it’s a 5-hour drive.
Founded by a full-time firefighter, Beard’s Brewing Co. has a prime location right on the historic Alaska Highway.
Start off across from the beautiful formal gardens beside Centennial Park and wind through the downtown core. Learn about the history that shaped the town through historic panels along the walk.
Mighty Peace Brewing was founded by four local friends who were inspired by the array of craft breweries opening across British Columbia and wanted to share their love of beer with the local community.
Drive to Dawson Creek (1 hour)
Dawson Creek is the gateway to the legendary Alaska Highway. Snap a photo with the historic Mile 0 post, visit the Northern Alberta Railway Museum and check out the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, located in a re-purposed grain elevator.
Dawson Creek's local spot for good food, craft beer, and conversation -- now working on adding its own brewery!
Want to discover Dawson Creek’s wild side? From golfing to skiing to birding among the Boreal Forests, whatever the season, Dawson Creek has an outdoors waiting to be explored. Learn more.
Start your Quesnel adventure off with a delicious meal at this family owned and operated restaurant in the heart of downtown.
Head up to Wonderland for a ride on their mountain biking trails. There’s a gorgeous view of Dragon Lake waiting for you on Angry Beaver.
Stop at the Quesnel & District Museum and Archives for a little history or pick up a gold pan and map next door at the Quesnel Visitor Centre and pan for gold on the Quesnel or Fraser rivers to experience it firsthand.
If you didn’t strike it rich on the river, you can get your fill of liquid gold from this award-winning gold rush-themed brewery. They serve pizza from a local pizzeria, Red Tomato Pies, to satisfy your taste buds and fill your hunger after a busy morning.
Test your trivia and problem solving skills and try to escape one of the themed game rooms at Cariboo Escape. This is a group activity and advanced booking is required.
If there’s still enough daylight, a pleasant 1 km hike along a well-maintained trail to the viewpoint of the 12 million year old Hoodoos and other rock formations.
Enjoy the character and charm of this unique hotel, decorated in a historic style with friendly staff to boot.
Stay another day and visit Barkerville Historic Town & Park
If you have another day (and you’ll want a whole day), take the scenic 1-hour drive to Barkerville. With over 100 preserved historic buildings, this village is a representative of the Victorian gold rush era. Actors in period costumes bring the memory of the town to life. Be sure to check in before arriving as their programming is seasonal and changes throughout the year.
Visiting Quesnel in winter? Here you’ll find a variety of activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and more! With endless parks and trails throughout the city and surrounding area and four lakes within 20kms, you won’t have to go far from town for a daily dose of sunshine and exercise. Full details here.
Drop in for a beer and a bite and stay for the sunset and friendly people. The patio offers beautiful views of Williams Lake.
Drive to Valemount (1 hour 40min)
Open 9 months of the year, the iconic Valemount Swiss Bakery offers 60+ artisan bread varieties. Try their Stollen, made with original spices and ingredients from Europe.
A guest ranch in the Canadian Rockies offering horse holidays, trail rides, cabins, lessons and more.
Despite only having a population of 1,000, Valemount has embraced Three Ranges in a big way. The cosy tasting room and sunny patio have become a gathering place for the entire community.
The Caribou Grill is an authentic log building with western decor which serves Canadian Cuisine including steak, prime rib, game, wild salmon, pasta and seafood.
Stop by the Valemount Visitor Center/Municipal Office at 785 Cranberry Lake Road, we are open year-round for you to stop by and get help finding accommodation. Open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm (closed for lunch 12:30 pm–1:30 pm). Closed weekends and statutory holidays.
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Urban sophistication and spectacular wilderness live distinctively side by side in Prince George. We are the only community in northern BC that offers the amenities and benefits of a thriving city within mere minutes of beautiful, pristine forests. This land is the traditional home of the Lheidli T’enneh and Carrier Sekani First Nations people, Prince George is widely known as the capital of northern British Columbia.
A surprisingly cosmopolitan hub on British Columbia’s wild and beautiful Northwest Coast, Prince Rupert is a vibrant port town where nature, history, and personalities are larger than life.
Located in the central interior of B.C., Quesnel is where nature isn’t just a part of life, it’s our way of life. With tall trees, expansive landscapes, and all-season adventure, Quesnel is a place where you can stretch your legs and your lungs and one that welcomes you with open arms.
The Bulkley River borders Smithers and lends its name to the valley. Smithers is a mountain town, set against the backdrop of the Hudson Bay Mountain and with vistas of the Babine and Telkwa Mountain Ranges. Smithers offers outstanding outdoor recreational pursuits during all phases of the year. This includes fishing and hunting, downhill and cross-country skiing, golfing, snowmobiling, canoeing and kayaking and many more.
A vibrant and growing city, Terrace boasts year-round recreational opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. The choices are endless: world-class fishing on the Skeena River, hiking trips through the backcountry, cycling along city paths or mountain biking down steep terrain. Go golfing at the base of a majestic mountain, raft down a raging river, or ski exhilarating slopes or along peaceful Nordic trails. Enjoy the largest northern music festival in spring or 10 days of Riverboat festivities in August. Stop by Heritage Park Museum to partake in a local event or to better understand our history.
Crystal clear blue skies and our gorgeous snow-capped peaks form the backdrop for your epic and unforgettable vacation. In summer, reel in a rainbow trout, wind through our trails from the saddle of your ATV, or let a horse show you the way — however you decide to travel through our valley, you’re certain to create a memory around every turn.
Whether your ideal winter vacation involves launching yourself down a mountain in search of the freshest, deepest powder, or cutting figure eights into a frozen pond, we have it all right here in Valemount. So get out, let the mountains move you.