- In the backcountry, minimal trail maintenance occurs. In many backcountry areas, there are no developed campsites. Random backcountry camping is permitted in wildland provincial parks and Willmore Wilderness Park.
- Research the route you plan to take.
- Good maps, a GPS and survival gear are necessary.
- In many backcountry areas, cell service is not available.
- Inform family or friends of your planned route, camping spots and estimated return time.
- Check local weather forecasts before you go. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather. Wet, cold conditions and hypothermia can turn a fun adventure into a life threatening emergency.
- Grizzly bears, black bears, and cougars live in backcountry areas.
- To report an emergency once back in an area with cell service, call 9-1-1. Some parks have a conservation officer phone number available.
- Backcountry Etiquette Guide
Safety around Wildlife
Cougars live in many backcountry areas. These large and powerful cats generally avoid encounters with humans. Refer to Preventing Conflict with Cougars for tips on staying safe.
Many backcountry areas are home to grizzly and black bears. To minimize the risk of a dangerous bear encounter
- Do not travel alone in the backcountry, if possible. A larger group is always safer than a single hiker.
- Carry bear spray on a belt holster for quick access. Know how to use it.
- Make plenty of noise when approaching blind corners, dense shrubs and streams, and when walking into the wind. A loud shout every few minutes is more effective than bear bells.
- Remain alert. Keep your ears open. Do not wear earphones while on the trails.
- Leave your pet at home. If you do travel with a pet, keep it on a leash. Loose dogs can attract and irritate bears.
- Always keep your group together. Be especially diligent at keeping children with you at all times.
- Avoid areas if you see signs of recent bear activities: fresh digging on trails, bear scat and claw marks on bear trees. A dead or scavenged animal site is especially dangerous.
- Hang all food, garbage and scented items high in a tree at least 100 m from your sleeping area to discourage bears from investigating. Never store food or scented items in a tent.
- Make sure that your cooking area is 100 m from your sleeping area to prevent food-odour contamination. Never sleep in clothes worn while cooking.
- Pack out all garbage in sealed bags. Never bury food scraps.
- At night, use a flashlight and move cautiously around your campsite.
- Read more safety tips for bear encounters on the Bear and Outdoor Recreation page.
Hunting in Bear Country
- Make every effort to remove a harvested animal in one trip or, failing that, in one day.
- If you must leave a carcass at a remote field camp or other location, hang it at least 100 m from camp.
- Use extreme caution when approaching the carcass. Make lots of noise in case your kill has attracted a bear.
- If there is a bear at your kill site, don’t attempt to chase it away. Leave the site and the carcass to the bear. Report the incident to a Conservation Officer as soon as possible.
Hiking in the Backcountry
- Use well-defined trails and avoid short-cuts across switchbacks. Short-cuts result in erosion and create unwanted parallel trails.
- Never drop litter along trails. Keep a plastic bag handy and pick up any litter you find.
- Do not pick wildflowers. Collecting rocks, fossils and artifacts is not permitted. Take a photograph instead.
- Your dog must be kept on a leash at all times. Remember, wildlife regard your dog as either prey or predator.
Waterways can be very cold, even in mid-summer. Crossing streams and rivers can be the most dangerous challenge that hikers confront. Please read our safety info on
Backcountry Info Links