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Exploring Othello Tunnels Hiking Trail-Coquihalla Canyon Park

The Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park in the British Columbia region of Canada houses an engineering marvel, the Othello Tunnels. This series of train tunnels and bridges slice the solid granite cliffs of the Coquihalla George River. The Othello tunnel trail is the best way to experience the incredible engineering feat of all times that had to be unfortunately shut down as Mother nature took charge with frequent washouts and rockslides.

Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park

Image Credit: https://www.alltrails.com/

Opening hours

You can look to explore the beautiful Othello Tunnels trail anytime between dawn to dusk during the summer season from May to October. However, they are closed during the winter season as nature’s extreme elements come to the forefront, with land sliding and rock falling being the most prominent ones. If the engineers can’t get the falling rocks under control, they generally close down the route to avoid injuries.

How to reach here?

Driving from Vancouver, you will approximately reach Othello Tunnels in 2.5 hours. For the shortest path, take Exit # 183 Othello Road from the Coquihalla Highway, which is placed 6km east of the Crowsnest Highway junction. The road will take you below the highway and move towards the Othello Road westbound. Continue your route on the same road till 3km and checkout for the signs to the Coquihalla Provincial Park towards the left onto Tunnel Road.

For all the tourists and visitors who have at least three days in Vancouver, a drive east towards the historic Othello Tunnels will give you some awesome vistas of the Fraser Valley along your journey.

Fifty vehicles can be accommodated in the Othello Tunnels parking area, with many spots reserved for the tourist buses. If you want to catch hold of the parking spot, try to arrive as early as possible. It is on a first-come, first-serve basis.


The Canadian Pacific Railway connected the British Columbia coast by rail to link the Kootenay region. The boring of tunnels and grinding of rocks to form the building blocks of the railway line was a very expensive affair, roughly a budget of $300,000 way back in 1914. Nevertheless, plenty of engineering minds came together to build one of the world’s expensive railway tracks, an engineering feat even today. The tunnels were named the Othello Tunnels as Andrew McCulloch, the Chief Engineer for this project, was an avid Shakespeare literature fan and named the tunnel after a Shakespeare character, Othello. The Kettle Valley Railway debuted on July 31st, 1916, connecting Vancouver and Nelson through freight and passenger services. However, snow and rockslides played spoilsport, which led to the stalled railway operations.

Essentials before starting your trip

  • These abandoned tunnels and bridges create a pitch-dark environment, so flashlights are an absolute must. In addition, the rain creates water puddles along your journey, so a flashlight helps avoid them as much as possible. You can even use your mobile flashlight to navigate through if you have forgotten to carry one. 
  • As the area is abandoned, there are no breakout areas, so either has your lunch before or after the exploration journey ends. If you need to break in between, use the rock walls to rest and regain your energy levels before embarking on the trails. 
  • If you intend to cross the tunnel with your best friend (dogs), ensure they are leashed all through. 

Kickstart your Othello Tunnels Trail journey

Othello Tunnels Trail journey

Image Credit: https://www.alltrails.com/

Look for directions to the start of the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park trails. There are two routes you can choose from, one that will directly take you to the four tunnels, and the other one is a long one for 3.4 miles one way, 2.5 miles more than the direct one, and finds its way through the dense woods, and loops back through the four tunnels. Take the route that best suits your style. You can easily cross the longer trail in over three hours. Many people choose the direct route as it gives you better exploration elements through the tunnels than the longer one. Even if you stop over for some awesome click moments and amazing natural vistas in between, you can easily complete the trail and return in under two hours.

The tunnel milestones

Othello Tunnels Hiking Trail

Image Credit: https://www.alltrails.com/

The impressive solid rock and granite structures in each tunnel are bound to get your attention. Be cautious when you are with pets and little ones, as you can encounter cyclists as they zip through the dark sections. Although, they have clear instructions to slow down inside the tunnel.

The first tunnel is the longest, standing tall at 556 feet, and is the darkest among the quintet of tunnels. The second tunnel is short from the first tunnel and is probably the shortest among the lot. You will be awestruck at this remarkable feat achieved by humanity. It is beyond imagination how the people managed to break through with bare hands a century back.

The third and fourth tunnels are unified decorated with arches and windows on their right to sneak through the dense neighboring rainforest. A concrete pillar stated the time and year when the section was updated.

The last tunnel is the shortest at 276 feet tall and is curved to prevent visibility of the other side at the entrance. However, as you move along the tunnel, you will get to see the other side more prominently. Be careful with pets or kids as there are no barriers or fencing at the edge.

Post the quintet of tunnels, the trail continues into the forest and turns to the right, looping you back straight to the parking at an elevation of around 200 meters.

Love Locks

Young couples often flaunt their booming passion with these symbolic locks tied to the fences near the bridges. These are fondly referred to as love locks. Not exactly a milestone, but not worth missing out on.

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