Outdoor lovers head here for camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking and backcountry skiing. Horsefly, the gateway to Quesnel Lake, Horsefly Lake, Crooked Lake and the Cariboo Mountains, hosts entertaining events, including July’s Arts on the Fly Music Festival, the September Salmon Festival, Fall Fair and Horsefly Follies Theatrical Review. Visit the Pioneer Museum, which also serves as the area’s Visitor Info Booth. The first gold discovery of the Cariboo Gold Rush was in the Horsefly River in 1859, three years before Billy Barker made his big strike on Williams Creek. The prospectors, led by American Peter Dunlevy, were guided by native Long Baptiste and the gold was easily visible, having been exposed by sockeye salmon during gravel churning spawning. The party picked up 2,835g/100oz of nuggets in a week – and so began the great gold rush of 1859 into B.C.’s Interior. Those easy-to-find gold nuggets are long gone, leaving the area’s approximately 1,000 residents to work in forestry, ranching, mining and tourism.
Likely, originally known as Quesnelle (kwe-nel) Dam in 1898 when a dam was built to mine the Quesnel River, changed its name in 1923 to commemorate popular prospector, John ‘Plato’ Likely. Located about 86km/54mi northeast of 150 Mile House at the west end of Quesnel Lake, the deepest fjord lake in North America, Likely’s economy is driven by mining and forestry. Intriguing evidence of past mining ventures exist at Cedar Point Provincial Park, home to the Cedar City Mining Museum. Once a rendezvous point for the Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade, the park campground accesses a network of old mining trails. Likely provides one of the park’s main access points, with tourist information, a public boat launch to Quesnel Lake, and driving access to Quesnelle Forks.
Quesnelle Forks is a hauntingly striking ghost town accessible to the public by a dirt road from Likely, just 9km/5.5mi away. Visitors can wander through original log cabins and a heritage graveyard, the only evidence of the past residents who lived here in the late 1800s. There are no entrance fees or employees, no souvenir shops or caf’s, just compelling glimpses and fragments of the past.
In the early 1860s, gold fever was rampant at the confluence of the Quesnel and Cariboo Rivers. ‘The Forks’ quickly became a rowdy camp with 5,000-plus residents. After the gold seekers moved farther north, the community’s key location made it a major entryway to the goldfields and it remained a busy hub. When the Cariboo Wagon Road was completed in 1865 the community was bypassed, and fell into decline. By the mid-1870s, most of the residents had left, though a thriving community of Chinese prospectors and merchants temporarily remained to support a widely dispersed mining community.