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Return to Misty Moorings - Trip Tic V-2

Destination: Chilcotin Plateau Airfield

Route Briefing

  • This Scenery is for "Return to Misty Moorings" only.
  • Suggested Altitude: Varies by leg, 1200 to 3500
  • Landing zone is: Dirt Runway
  • GPS for destination: N51 53 00 - W124 36.00
  • Distance approximately: 118 Miles
  • Download PRINT-ABLE copy HERE
  • Flight-Seeing Flight Plan & Map HERE
  • Scenery Needed: Chilcotin


Chilcotin Plateau Airfield

1938 – A rich canadian farmer living near the Tatla lake, BC, decides to build an airfield with all commodities. 2011 – There are only rests of this airfield, but still in activity, used by a flying school.

This is a charming area, a plateau , a few people and many cows live here. The only point of interest is the Tatla lake, and quiet calm and beauty.

The flight is 118 miles long, starting at Bella Coola and following a low level route through the mountains to the Chilcotin Plateau, a high plateau that is relatively flat. You will be following river valleys and roads along this scenic route.

The Flight-Seeing Plan is "autopilot friendly". You must alter the altitude on the different legs. This is an exciting autopilot flight in bad weather, the plane is continually twisting and turning through the maze of river valleys. This trip will give you an excellent view and understanding of the Bella Coola River Basin, one of the premier sports fishing areas in the world.

WaveTop VFR Plan

FROM : Bella Coola, BC (CYBD)
TO: Chilcotin Plateau Airfield

Leg: Bella Coola to Atnarko River
Initial Course: 051 (Approximate, follow curve of valley)
Leg Distance: 20 Miles
Leg Altitude: 1200

Start off on Runway 07 at Bella Coola (CYBD). If you must fly from Runway 28, then make a "U" turn after takeoff to intercept the flight plan on a 051 heading. Fly an altitude of 1200 feet for this leg. Follow the valley for 20 miles until you see the Atnarko River veering off to port. Over this leg, the river basin curves from 051 to 117 as you approach the Atnarko River.

  • We are flying up the Bella Coola River basin that you see stretched before us today. Canada Highway 20, called the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway. It follows the river and we will be initially following the river and the highway as we begin our journey.
  • The Bella Coola Valley, a gem of natural beauty within the Central Coast of British Columbia. Wilderness abounds and beckons nature lovers and soft adventurers who wish to get off the well-trod tourist path. It also has an alluring history: the First Nations Nuxalk people (pronounced Nu-hawk) date back 10,000 years. The Valley boasts a temperate climate that encompasses the Coast Mountains, crystalline rivers and inland regions. The Bella Coola Valley lies at the head of a 100 km (60mi) inlet from the outer Pacific Ocean and therefore has much less rainfall than the outer coast region.
  • Journeying to the Bella Coola Valley is an adventure. The Valley stretches 80 km (50 mi) from North Bentinck Arm, to the base of "The Hill" on Highway 20 and can be reached by road from Williams Lake, by scheduled and chartered air service, by private boat and BC Ferries seasonal service. At the eastern end of the Valley is Tweedsmuir Provincial Park a haven for outdoor recreation. Relax with a fishing line in hand, explore a hiking trail, drift a river, hire a guide to watch wildlife, tour the petroglyphs, go horseback riding, mountain biking, air-touring, heli-hiking, swim among salmon. In winter, the mountains guarantee deep powder for heli-skiing, heli-boarding and snowmobiling as well as ample snow for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Leg: Atnarko River to Highway Leaves
Initial Course: 020 (follow the River)
Leg Distance: 3 Miles
Leg Altitude:
1500 feet

About 3 miles after your turn, the "real' highway, (20) leaves the river at this point, you will see a cut in the mountains to starboard and the Chilcotin-Bella Coola highway goes up that cut with some severe switchbacks to make the altitude, it rejoins the river nearer the Plateau. You will see a small dirt road along the river, continue to follow the road and the river as it gently curves to starboard. The highway will return to the river when you near your destination.

  • From its origin in Charlotte Lake to its junction with the Telchako River where the Bella Coola River begins, the Atnarko is approximately 100 kilometres long. For much of its length, the Atnarko River flows through the southern end of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. The river has cut a fairly steep-sided valley through a landscape characterized by a complex geology of volcanic activity, sedimentary folding and granite intrusions. Tributaries tend to be in hanging valleys.
  • Wildlife populations thrive in this environment. Native species found in the area include grizzly and black bear, moose, mule deer, mountain goat, cougar, wolf, coyote, red fox, and river otter.
  • In addition to its wildlife habitats, the Atnarko River supports many human activities. The river's fish stocks are among the most important of its economic qualities, as they support a Native food fishery, and a large sport fishery. The Atnarko River also supports recreational uses, such as camping, canoeing, wildlife viewing, hunting, and mountain biking. The wide variety of recreational interests supported by the Atnarko system make it a popular area for tourists and recreationists of all types. In the river's upper reaches beyond Tweedsmuir Park, logging is the dominant industrial interest although little activity has taken place to date.
  • A wide variety of interest groups are active on behalf of the Atnarko River including conservationists, commercial guides, anglers, and boaters. The local First Nations, the Nuxalk and Ulkatcho Bands, also have a continuing interest in the Atnarko. These groups have focused their attention on initiatives such as salmon enhancement programs, protection of grizzly bear habitat, and maintenance of the river as a high-quality recreational and tourism corridor. The Atnarko River is within a provincial land use planning area referred to as the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan.

Leg: Highway Leaves to Lonesome Lake
Initial Course: 099 (follow the river)
Leg Distance: 5 Miles
Leg Altitude: 2000 feet

On this leg you continue to follow the river valley. Increase your altitude to 2000 feet as we continue to climb toward the plateau. You will cross the center of Stillwater Lake, a part of this river system. You will eventually find another "widening" of the river system and this is Lonesome Lake.

  • Highway 20, that we have been following is also known as the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway, and officially dubbed the Alexander MacKenzie Highway, is one of the two main East-West routes in the Central Interior of British Columbia (the other being Highway 16 (the Yellowhead Highway)). The Chilcotin Highway runs 457 km (284 mi) from Williams Lake westward through the Chilcotin region to North Bentinck Arm, an inlet from the Pacific Ocean where the town of Bella Coola is located. As of 2006, all but 57 km (35 mi) has been paved, mostly for expediting the removal of timber from the region, which, like most of British Columbia, is afflicted with pine beetle infestations. Logging traffic and ranch-related traffic on the route can be expected.
  • Highway 20 is famous for the portion of the westernmost stretch, between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola, known as the Hill or The Precipice. From the point where the road crosses the Coast Range via Heckman Pass in Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park at an elevation of 1487 m (4879 ft) the road descends 43 km (27 mi) of steep, narrow road with sharp hairpin turns and two major switchbacks to the Bella Coola Valley. The descent includes a 9 km (5.6 mi) section with grades of up to 18% (about 1 in 6). The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered on one side by cliffs and on the other side by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. Tourists who have driven to Bella Coola from Williams Lake have been known to refuse to drive back and have had to be taken out by boat or float plane.

Leg: Lonesome Lake to Tensa Lake
Initial Course: 156 (follow the river)
Leg Distance: 5.1 Miles
Leg Altitude: 2500

Continue increasing altitude, not to 2500 feet. Our next waypoint is another widening of the river called Tensa lake.

  • Lonesome Lake is a lake located just 10.7 miles from Telegraph Creek, in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and bull trout here. Whether you’re fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to Lonesome Lake. If all goes well, the rainbow will be hooked by your grasshoppers, the bull will be biting your crustaceans and the apache trout will be grabbing your worms.

Leg: Tensa Lake to Elbow Lake
Initial Course: 155 (follow the river)
Leg Distance: 6.5 miles
Leg Altitude: 2500

You will fly over the 3 mile long Rainbow Lake. Toward the end of Rainbow Lake, there is a tricky "zig zag". The river turns sharply to port then back to starboard over the curve of Elbow Lake. Be careful in this area.

Leg: Elbow Lake to Knot Lake
Initial Course: 170
Leg Distance: 7.5 Miles
Leg Altitude: 2700

Increase your altitude to 2700 feet as you fly to Knot Lake.

  • The Bella Coola River system is one of the finest places to cast a line in British Columbia. Along with the Atnarko River (both are easily accessed from Highway 20) and dozens of streams, anglers can try for Cutthroat and Rainbow trout, Rocky Mountain whitefish and Dolly Varden. It is easy wading into Thorsen Creek, scenically splendid as it meanders through a mossy forest, to fly fish for Cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden.

    As well, Chinook salmon run mid-May to mid-July, Coho salmon in September and October, Chum salmon in late July and Pink salmon in late July and August. A guided river trip is a must for avid anglers - see Tours on this website

Leg: Knot Lake to Knot Creek
Initial Course: 161
Leg Distance: 2 Miles
Leg Altitude: 2700

As you leave Knot Lake, you are coming to a critical turn that is easy to miss. You are flying over Knot Creek as you leave the lake. Ahead you will see a river coming in from Starboard. You will be turning to port at this junction following the river there.

  • We had a float plane wreck in this area once. A pilot departed Nimpo Lake, British Columbia, in the float-equipped Cessna 180J aircraft at about 1020 Pacific daylight saving time (PDT) for a 25-minute visual flight to Knot Lake, 35 nautical miles southwest. This was the pilot's second flight of the day, the first being to another lake located in the vicinity of Knot Lake. When the aircraft had not returned to Nimpo Lake by 1330 PDT, the company owner took off from Nimpo Lake in a Beaver aircraft to conduct an aerial search. He heard the signal from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) near Knot Lake; however, he could not locate the source. He then returned to Nimpo Lake and notified the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC). The missing aircraft was found later that day on Knot Lake, partially afloat and sinking. The pilot had been fatally injured, and his body was recovered from the submerged aircraft the next day by RCMP divers.

Leg: Knot Creek to River Turn
Initial Course: 110 (follow the basin)
Leg Distance: 4.6 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3000

Increase your altitude to 3000 feet. As you follow the river, watch for a sharp cliff to starboard, be sure to avoid it, you may be below it's altitude as you pass it.

Ahead is River Turn. the Klinaklini River you are following turns to port in a wide, triangular basin. Follow the river to port. This turn area will look similar to the last turn area.

Leg: River Turn to Klinaklini River Turn
Initial Course: 110
Leg Distance: 5.6 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3000

Follow the river basin. You will find it is wide at this point.

  • The Klinaklini River is one of the major rivers of the Pacific Ranges section of the Coast Mountains in British Columbia. It begins in the northern basins of the Pantheon Range to the north of Mount Waddington and briefly heads northeast onto the Chilcotin Plateau before bending around northwestwards to turn around south, reaching its mouth at the head of Knight Inlet after c.200 km. The brief but voluminous West Klinaklini River (7 km only) joins the Klinaklini in its lower reaches, and is the meltwater from the Klinaklini Glacier, the main tongue of the vast Ha-Iltzuk Icefield (Silverthrone Glacier), which lies west of the Klinaklini. To the east of the Klinaklini in the same area is the Waddington Range.
  • A different spelling of Klinaklini is Kleena Kleene, which is the name of a recreational community on the river just below its exit from the Pantheon Range onto the Chilcotin Plateau. The area of Kleena Kleene is one where the Klinaklini, Homathko and Chilanko River basins share the same stretch of plateau.

Leg: Klinaklini River Turn to Basin Turn
Initial Course: 043
Leg Distance: 7.5 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3000

Yet another set of "familiar looking" features. Watch for the well-defined Klinaklini river to turn to port in another triangular basin. Follow the branch of the river to port on a heading of 043.

NOTAM: there is a wide river basin going off to starboard and you will be tempted to go in that direction. Starve the temptation and go to port or you might wind up in New Jersey!

This is a beautiful winding, valley leg. Watch the walls of rock to port and starboard staying in the valley and following this for about 4 miles to the Klinaklini Lake area.

Leg: Basin Turn to Klinaklini Lake
Initial Course: 010
Leg Distance: 1.5 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3400

At Basin Turn, turn to approximately 010 degrees following the river basin to Klinaklini Lake, 2 miles ahead. Increase your altitude to 3400 feet.

Leg: Klinaklini Lake to Sharp Peak
Initial Course: 014
Leg Distance: 10.4 Miles
Leg Altitude:3700 Feet

Increase your altitude to 3700 feet. you will be following a wide river basin to "Sharp Peak" a sharp-peaked mountain ahead to starboard.

  • Rafting the Klinaklini River offers the adventurous traveler a bounty of images and experiences. No previous experience is required, yet there are exciting stretches of whitewater ranging from class III – V rapids. Both of the class V drops are optional as portage routes are available. The Klinaklini Canyon is impassible and heli-portage is mandatory.
  • Provincial wildlife officials estimate that there are hundreds of resident grizzly bears living in the Klinaklini Valley and sightings are virtually guaranteed. Other mammals often seen include wolf, wolverine, lynx, marten, mink and moose. In the latter parts of the season, hundreds of bald eagles congregate on the river to feast on the spawning salmon and steelhead. Other birds of prey include the golden eagle, rough legged hawk, red tailed hawk and peregrine falcon.
  • Mergansers are found throughout the river system and we may see flocks of Canada geese on their migration southward. A variety of songbirds also call the Klinaklini home. All five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead spawn in the Klinaklini during the months of August and September; rainbow trout mingle in their midst. The main insect season is over by the middle of summer and the few remaining mosquitoes will be of little concern.
  • The forests in the Klinaklini are in their natural state. The upper Klinaklini is forested with pine, spruce and fir. The lower river valleys are forested with stands of giant cedar and hemlock and carpeted by verdant, rich layers of thick mosses and ferns

Leg: Sharp Peak to One Eye Lake
Initial Course: 038 (Follow the river)
Leg Distance: 8.6 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3700

You have reached the edge of the Chilcotin Plateau. The river basins flattens out, watch the river carefully, it can be difficult to see here. It gently curves toward starboard approaching One Eye Lake.

After a jog in the river, you will see the Chilcotin-Bella Coola highway coming back near the river from port.

  • The Chilcotin Plateau is part of the Fraser Plateau, a major subdivision of the Interior Plateau of British Columbia. The Chilcotin Plateau is physically near-identical with the region of the same name, i.e. "the Chilcotin", which lies between the Fraser River and the southern Coast Mountains and is defined by the basin of the Chilcotin River and so includes montane areas beyond the plateau. East of the Chilcotin Plateau, across the Fraser River, is the Cariboo Plateau, while to the north beyond the West Road (Blackwater) River is the Nechako Plateau. West and south of the Chilcotin Plateau are various subdivisions of the Coast Mountains, including the Chilcotin Ranges which lie along the plateau's southwest.
  • Included within the definition of the Chilcotin Plateau are the Rainbow Range, near Bella Coola and the similarly-volcanic Ilgachuz Range and Itcha Range both of which are major shield volcanoes. The Camelsfoot Range, north of Lillooet, is included in the Chilcotin Plateau by some systems of classification.
  • The plateau is nearly entirely drained by the Chilcotin River and its tributaries, the largest of which are the Chilanko and Chilko Rivers. Also draining the plateau on its eastern edge is Churn Creek, which forms the east flank of the Camelsfoot Range and enters the Fraser directly. On the west side of the plateau, the basins of the Dean, Homathko and Atnarko Rivers penetrate the massifs of the Coast Mountains and have their beginnings, or the early part of their courses, on the Chilcotin Plateau.The Chilcotin Plateau consists of basaltic lava of the Chilcotin Group, a group of related volcanic rocks that is nearly parallel with the Fraser Plateau. It extends along the adjacent Garibaldi Volcanic Belt in the Coast Mountains. Volcanism of the Chilcotin Plateau is considered to be a result of extension of the crust behind the coastal Cascadia subduction zone.

Leg: One Eye Lake to Chilanko Airport (CBX3)
Initial Course: 103
Leg Distance: 2 Miles
Leg Altitude: 3700

Over the leading shore of One Eye Lake, turn to a heading of 103 and 2 miles later you will fly over Chilanko airport.

  • One Eye Lake is a lake located just 2.9 miles from Kleena Kleene, in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and bull trout here. Whether you’re fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to One Eye Lake. If all goes well, the rainbow will be hooked by your worms, the bullie will be biting your grasshoppers and the cuttthroat will be grabbing your salmon eggs.

Leg: Chilanko Airport to Chilcotin Lodge Approach
Initial Course: 094 (follow flat basin area)
Leg Distance: 10 miles
Leg Altitude: 3700 (but only over flat area!) to 3400 Feet


As we turn to 094 at the Chilanko airport, we will be following a flat grassy area for about 10 miles to the the approach for the Chilcotin Lodge. Your altitude should be 3700 feet ... but you must stay over the flat area as there are surrounding hills at 3800 feet.

Where the grassy area ends and the highway turns to port, go into landing configuration. On this heading, the highway will cross under you to starboard, then again to port. As it crosses under you again and turns to port, be ready to turn to port and land at the airstrip. You should be at about 3400 feet in this area and in landing configuration.

The approach can be difficult to see, so study the picture below before the landing, it will help you orient yourself on the approach.

Leg:Chilcotin Lodge Approach and Landing
Initial Course: 049
Leg Distance: 1.5
Leg Altitude: 3400 feet to land at
3035 Feet

Turning to 049 when the highway turns will line you up on this difficult-to find airfield. Go slow and be careful and you will find it. the airfield is just beyond the lodge.

Position yourself to fly between the barn and the lodge. There are three tall trees there, fly over those trees, the grass and weed-lined airstrip is just beyond.

NOTAM: This is a very well-done scenery package by Xavier Carre' and you should look around here, there is a great deal to see!


Doug Linn
Charter Manager
Misty Moorings, Inc

(Revised 07.08.2012)
Copyright Return to Misty Moorings 2012