Mineral Titles: Recreational hand panning

Last updated on March 1, 2024

We acknowledge the territories of First Nations around B.C. that share their traditional and unceded territories with us. We acknowledge the rights, interests, priorities and concerns of all Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit), respecting and acknowledging their distinct cultures, histories, rights, laws and governments.

What you need to know:    

  • Free Miner Certificate not required 
  • Only a hand pan and shovel allowed (no metal detectors, sluice boxes, suction dredges or other devices) 

On this page

What is hand panning?

Hand panning is defined as:

Washing earth, sand and gravel in a hand pan to separate loose minerals. Also known as panning or gold panning.

Where not to hand pan

Hand panning is prohibited on a Provincial heritage site

A person has no right to explore for minerals or placer minerals on federal land, treaty settlement lands, Indian reservations, parks, conservancies, ecological reserves or protected areas.

Where can a person hand pan

Recreational panning reserves

Hand panning is allowed in a recreational panning reserve. 


Individual Panning Reserve Information

Site Name

Site Number

(MTO Site Details)

Mapsheet Number

(PDF Location Map)

GPX Files

(To be used with a GPS)*

Barnes Creek


 082E (PDF, 712KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Cayoosh Creek


 092I (PDF, 916KB)

Waypoints and Tracks



 082F (PDF, 765KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Goldstream River


 082M (PDF, 689KB)

Waypoints and Tracks



 092H (PDF, 752KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Kennedy River


 092F (PDF, 739KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Kettle River


 082L (PDF, 756KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Lytton (Site 1)


 092I (PDF, 918KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Lytton (Site 2)


 092I (PDF, 871KB)

Waypoints and Tracks



 092H (PDF, 1209KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Quesnel-Fraser River Junction


 093B (PDF, 824KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Spruce Creek


 104N (PDF, 666KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Wild Horse River


 082G (PDF, 960KB)

Waypoints and Tracks

Yale Town


 092H (PDF, 557KB)

Waypoints and Tracks


*GPX (the GPS exchange format) is a light-weight xml data format for the interchange of GPS data (waypoints, routes, and tracks) between applications and web services on the internet. Source

Downloading the GPX Waypoints and Tracks based on browser:

  • Edge:  right-click on the Waypoints and Tracks link and select Save Target As
  • Chrome: click on the Waypoints and Tracks link and a pop-up offering to Open or Save the GPX file will appear.
  • Firefox: - click on the Waypoints and Tracks link and a pop-up offering to Open or Save the GPX file will appear.
  • Mac/Safari: - Simply click on the Waypoints and Tracks link and the file will automatically download to your computer.


KML File - Google Earth

Using Google Earth this KML file will automatically open and zoom to British Columbia adding the BC Recreational Panning Reserves to your Temporary Places folder.


Panning with permission

Hand panning requires permission on the following areas:

Areas in the province that require permission for hand panning
Area of interest Who to contact for permission
claim or lease, mineral or placer recorded holder of the mineral title
private property property owner

Equipment you can use

Limited to the following tools:

  • hand pan
  • hand shovel

Does not include the use of:

  • a metal detector - using a metal detector is a prospecting activity*
  • sluice or shaker boxes, suction dredges, and other mechanical devices 

*Section 11(1) of the Mineral Tenure Act requires that only a free miner or an agent of a free miner may enter mineral lands to explore for minerals or placer minerals, which includes prospecting for minerals or placer minerals with a metal detector. 

Best practices when hand panning

We all have a role to play in protecting the environment. Please see below for best practices to follow when hand panning. Print a two-page summary (PDF, 579KB) of best practices to take out to the field.   



Fish and Wildlife

All human activity has the potential to impact fish and wildlife and their habitats. Riparian areas (stream sides and shorelines) provide critical habitat for fish, wildlife, amphibians and birds. Plants growing along streams provide food, shelter and nesting sites and protect stream environments for fish. 


  • Observe wildlife from a distance  

  • Leave dead woody logs and material in place

  • Use existing trails or paths  

  • Pack out your garbage – follow Leave No Trace practices 

  • Report any concerns about suspected violations of fisheries, wildlife, or environmental protection laws anonymously – RAPP 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or online 

Do Not:

  • Disturb or remove vegetation

  • Dig into stream banks slopes  

  • Feed wildlife  

  • Disturb beaver dams, nests or wildlife dens 


Water | Fish Habitat 

All British Columbians have a role to play in protecting water resources and fish habitat.  


  • Prevent the release of fine sediment or other substances into streams. (Studies have shown that the introduction of fine sediments directly from digging activity in the stream and indirectly from run-off from exposed soils has severe negative impacts on all life stages of fish and other aquatic life and their habitat. ) 
  • When digging for material to pan, store the material and use the same material to fill in the hole before the end of day. ALWAYS fill in your holes after panning. Leaving holes can trap fish as water levels rise and fall and can create safety hazards for other users. 

Do Not: 

  • Remove gravels from streambeds – spawning salmon scoop out a hollow, called a redd, in the gravel of a streambed to deposit their eggs. 
  • Introduce other material into streams such as human waste, garbage, wood/burned debris or any manmade substances.  

  • Divert water by making channels 


Invasive Plants 

Invasive species threaten many of our social, cultural, environmental, and economic values. Invasive species cost the global economy billions of dollars every year. They are a top threat to biodiversity, impact culturally and socially important areas, and can threaten human health in various ways, including through stings, burns, or poisonings. 


  • Clean, drain, and dry all equipment after use when working or recreating around freshwater lakes, streams, and wetlands to prevent transport of invasive species. For more information see PlayCleanGo  

Do Not: 

  • Remove gravels for processing at another location. Do not take gravel or other materials from one site to another.  


Although many gold panning reserves are located near communities, there are safety hazards that you may encounter when enjoying the outdoors in BC. Below are a few to consider: 

  • Avoid panning near streams and rivers during times of high-water flow (typically during spring freshet and early summer or when there is significant rainfall).   


Recreational hand panning reserves web app

The recreational hand panning reserve web app displays the general locations of recreational panning reserves. It does not provide accurate locations for parking or specific panning spots. This tool is intended for recreational purposes and is not suitable for operational level planning.

Recreational Hand Panning Reserve Web App

Overview: Recreational Panning Reserves
Overview Map of the BC Recreational Panning Reserves

Open the overview map of BC (PDF, 574KB). Click on an icon at each reserve site to open up an individual location map (PDF) of a site.