Seton Creek Spawning Channels are a great place to see the pink and coho salmon run in Canada (if you are lucky enough to get your timing right!) We visited in mid-October, but it was just a little bit too late to see the salmon jumping around in the river. However we saw hundreds of salmon carcasses, and the views were beeeeautiful so it was still a fun place to visit.
There are two trails around the channels, the cottonwood trail (1km), or the bunchgrass trail (1.8km). Both options are great for seeing the wildlife. Or, if you’d like to learn more about the local area and culture, you can join one of the Sek’wel’was experience tours.
Seton Creek Spawning Channels – the basics
Distance: 1km (for the cottonwood trail)
Elevation gain: minimal
Time: 20-30 mins
What to bring: Bring your camera in case there is wildlife!
Facilities: Sek’wel’was experience tours run from the nursery
How hard is it? Easy. It’s a quick walk with great views.
Extra notes: Best time to see the pink salmon is the first 3 weeks of October in odd years.
Sek’wel’was – Cayoose Creek
These salmon spawning channels are located in the territory of the St’át’imc people. The St’át’imc Nation is made up of 11 self-governing communities, including Sek’wel’was (Cayoose Creek). Sek’wel’was is located here in Lillooet at the heart of their nation, so it is often a meeting place for neighboring nations.
There is a nursery for native plants at the end of the spawning channels. When we visited, a group of children was there learning about the area. We didn’t want to disturb them all, so we just walked along the channels. However the signs said there are Sek’wel’was experience tours if you contact them in advance.
There were several beautiful benches if you bring a picnic when you visit.
Breakfast in Lillooet
Wait, why was it stinky?
We visited in October, after the main salmon run had finished. It looked like we were a few weeks late as there were loooads of dead salmon decomposing in the channels. Salmon return to the place they were spawned. That is why so many come back here. The bears and birds had already eaten their fill so we saw fish skeletons dotted around as well as fishes at various stages of decomposition.
Seton Creek Spawning Channel views
The channels are arranged in curvy lines, so as you walk around them, you’ll be turned around to see the mountains in all directions. We may have missed the salmon run, but the autumnal colours were gorgeous in mid-October.
Why build Spawning Channels?
The far side of the trail looks down on the channels, so you can see how they are arranged in lines. These channels were constructed in 1967 to allow the Pink and Coho salmon to spawn in the Seton River, after a new dam was constructed in Seton Lake. These calm channels have space for approximately 46,000 salmon to spawn(!)
This is the view looking southwest to the cliffs at the edge of Lillooet (the path goes the whole way around the spawning channels in that direction.)
We explored the short Cottonwood trail which loops back around to along a pretty boardwalk. This area is heaven for wildlife sightings! We saw an osprey and there were cool bat-houses along the trail. It must be even better if you arrive at the same time as the salmon.
At the far end of the trail you will be able to see the Seton River. The mountain views are fabulous from here.
If you are visiting Lillooet, it is definitely worth stopping to take a peek at the beautiful Seton Creek Spawning Channels. The trails are short, easy and lovely (even if they are a bit stinky due to dead salmon.)