Scenic Stop: The Othello Tunnels

Hope, British Columbia

Othello Tunnels - Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park

The Othello Tunnels, also known as the Othello Quintette Tunnels, are located in the scenic mountains outside of the town of Hope, BC, Canada. They were blasted through solid granite mountains to form a series of 5 straight tunnels connected together by trestle bridges. These former railway tunnels are located in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, and were part of the Kettle Valley Railway. This section of the rail-line was decommissioned in 1959.

The rail tracks have since been removed and the trestle bridges have been converted into pedestrian walkways. Excellent views of the Coquihalla Canyon can be seen as the river rages below. Kids and adults alike will love walking through the tunnels, emerging on the other side to spectacular Canadian scenery. Being former railway lines, the Othello Tunnels are tall and wide - and also very dark!

This is a spectacular place to visit for scenic canyon views and viewing this engineering marvel. This section, along the rugged and picturesque Coquilhalla Canyon, is said to one of the most expensive railways ever built in the world!

It is an easy 2 km long walk (one way) from the parking lot to the end of the last tunnel. The trail continues south to the town of Hope, BC. Walking through the tunnels feels like you're discovering a secret portal for the first time. Try not to think about all the horror movies that you've seen ... otherwise the dark tunnels may spook you!

The tunnels are about a 10 - 15 minute walk from the parking lot along the heavily treed banks of the Coquihalla River. There are spectacular viewing points both before and after the tunnels but the most stunning view points of the canyons from the connecting bridges.

The park is 159 hectares and offers hiking, walking, viewing and picnic areas. There's a small parking fee. Cyclists must dismount when passing through the dark passageways for safety reasons. A flashlight is recommended but not necessary. The Othello Tunnels are located in a straight line, so just keep walking towards the light.

History of the Othello Tunnels

The Kettle Valley Railway was built along the remote and rugged terrain of southern British Columbia to connect the Kootenay Valley to the BC coast. Instead of the going around the Coquihalla Canyon, which is up to 300 feet deep, the principal designer chose to blast these tunnels along the steep granite walls beside the Coquihalla River.

Andrew McCulloch's design was an engineering marvel at the time and this section of track was the most expensive section of rail ever built in the world. Many immigrant workers died during its construction.

How to Get to the Othello Tunnels


View Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park in a larger map

 


Source: Drive BC - Current Driving Conditions, Hope, BC.

 

Note: The walking trail is closed during the winter due to slippery conditions and the risk of rock slides. Access is closed to the tunnels as a precaution. Frequent rock slides were one of the reasons for the demise of the Kettle Valley Railway.

The Othello Tunnels near Hope, BC are located 154 kilometers (1.5 hours) from Vancouver, BC and 239 kilometers (2.5 hours) from Kelowna, BC.

Check out other outdoor adventures and hikes in BC, or visit scenic stops and viewpoints, or roadside attractions in beautiful British Columbia!