Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Bella Coola Hill aka "The Hill"

I've had comments about "The Hill" into Bella Coola.  I've been meaning to write a post about it, but just haven't gotten to it.   Since it's tourist season and there are people interested I'll write a short version.  The simple thing to say about the hill is, don't worry about it.  Yes it's a long steady grade up or down, it's gravel and it has some narrow spots.  There are no guard rails and it's a long way down on some of the slopes.

The key to driving the hill whether up or down is quite simple -- go slow.  If you are coming down and you have a standard transmission then keep it in a low gear, if you have an automatic, put in 1st gear as well and just go slow.  If the engines RPM's get up too high then a little bit of short braking will bring you back down and you'll hit a lower gradient.   It doesn't take very much steady braking on even the smallest vehicle and you will start to smell the tell tale burning brake smell if you only rely on your brakes.  If you're towing, then go even slower, just let everyone pass you who wants to go by.

This photo from the air shows some of the main switch backs - but they are not nearly as scary as they look in the photo.  The actual road surface is usually hard - sometimes a bit muddy in the fall and early spring.   Here is a good youtube video taken in the winter which gives you an overview of the complete hill, bottom to top, all 21 kms.  The Bella Coola Museum has published an excellent little pamphlet on the hill and a version of it is available at their website.

If you haven't driven to Bella Coola you really should, the trip across the Chilcotin is always beautiful and something different to see, the hill is quite interesting and spectacular and will give you something to talk about for years.  Don't be scared away by it, residents drive it every day of the year and there are very very few serious accidents.  Grizzly


  1. Thanks for that post, I'm the one who was interested. I'm actually leaving today from Colorado for your part of the country, so your timing was perfect! Can't wait to see Bella Coola after reading your blog! Thanks again.

  2. I will drive the Hill again in September. Cant wait! Is it worth a stay over in Williams Lake?

  3. G:
    You didn't mention the 'Red Hill' fake out ?


  4. I just found the site this morning, and I love it. I am from Bella Coola but moved away 30 years ago. This gives me a little piece of home. Thank you
    Carla S