We all know the movie. If you don't, or just haven't seen it, watch it... then go on the First Blood outdoor movie set hiking tour! Over 30 years ago, Sylvester Stallone came to BC and starred as Rambo in the iconic movie, First Blood. Much of this movie was shot outdoors in BC's beautiful landscapes as Rambo ran from the law, after being mistreated and wrongfully persecuted, mentally re-living the horrors he experienced as a special forces Vietnam war veteran. Check out the trailer:
With my husband and I both being stunt performers and fans of the action genre, these hikes had both been on our list for some time. This tour comprises of two hikes in two different locations, the Othello Tunnels hike in Hope and what has been lovingly dubbed by locals as the "First Blood" trail on the southeast slopes of Burke Mountain in Coquitlam. Both hikes are easy and can be hiked in 1-2 hours.
Othello Tunnels Hike (Featured in Canyon/Helicopter Scenes)
Distance: 3.5km, round trip
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: minimal
This hike at the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park offers a look into our past for both film buffs and train engineering lovers.
The famous canyon scenes in First Blood were shot here, the ones in which Rambo demonstrates his special forces skills while being pursued by malicious, hillbilly cops. He scales a cliff face, is chased by a helicopter, and even jumps down the mountainside into a tree, which cushions his fall. It’s hard not to appreciate what must have gone into shooting in this fantastic outdoor location. Check out the scene below:
For those interested in railway history, the Coquihalla Gorge was the place where the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to connect the southern coast of British Columbia with the Kootenays in the early 1900s. The route no longer has railway tracks now, and has been incorporated into Kettle Valley Railway Trail, a popular cycling route that follows the old train routes over trestles and through tunnels.
This hike is less about getting in a big workout and more about appreciating the impressive tunnels and how challenging it must have been to build them and the railway back when they were built. With its remote location, sheer rock cliffs, rushing waterways, and the limited technology available at the time, it’s hard not to wonder how they managed do what they did to make this marvel. Plus, it’s quite the sensory experience to walk through the tunnels without a light, with the oppressive darkness closing in around you, and all you can see is the light at the end of the passage. On top of that, looking down from the bridges and seeing the long drop is enough to give most people a sense of vertigo while they appreciate the aqua blue waters of the river flowing beneath them.
So even though it’s not a challenging trail for hikers, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’ve never been to the Othello Tunnels Trail.
The "First Blood" Hike (Featured in First Blood's Junkyard Scene)
Difficulty: mostly easy with a couple of tougher patches. Distance: 2.5km, round trip Time: 1-1.5 hours Elevation Gain: 150m Season: year round (though during high water the creek
This short hike brings you to the site of an old gravel mine on the southeastern side of Burke Mountain. It features many relics from our recent local industrial heritage, which are now slowly being reclaimed by nature. It was also the filming location for the junkyard scene in First Blood. You can see the remnants from its use in Rambo, bullet holes in the junkyard vehicles, etc, as well as the familiar view looking out over the landscape.
The hike starts at at the trailhead for Munro Lake Trail (or Goat Trail), located on Quarry Road, 3km past the parking lot for Minnekhada Regional Park. There are a couple of pull-outs on the gravel road and a rubble-strewn trail heading up into the woods. It’s not super obvious so be on the lookout as you drive. And apparently the area is known for break-ins so don’t leave any valuables in your car!
Take the rocky path up for about 200m, at which point you see the turn-off for the Munro Lake Trail. Continue on the main trail until reaching Deiner Creek. Scramble up the rocky terrain next to the creek to reach the small bridge above the main trail. It has been suggested that it may be dangerous or impossible to cross during high water even with the bridge. Note: you do have to go back down the creek again to get back to the trail on the other side. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re meant to go up the steep hill from there like me and my husband did. It was pretty sketchy going up then back down again when we figured out our error.
The trail isn’t really marked and is overgrown in places. If it has rained a lot recently, you might find yourself trekking through streams of water or re-routing off-trail to get around them. If you keep at it, you’ll eventually get to clearing with a makeshift shelter and a bunch of old vehicles. If you go up the hill just past the main clearing you’ll get a bit of a view looking down from the hillside. If you keep going around that area you’ll see pieces of old mining machinery from the old gravel mine.
Let me know in the comments if you end up checking out either of these hikes. They're both good fun if you're looking for short jaunts in either area. Happy hiking! :)